Managing the Risk of Fashion
Office is a strategic global partner to the world’s major footwear brands. From its heritage in the fashion capital of London to its expanding presence and customer demographic, Office is ideally placed to collaborate with the leading international footwear brands to deliver the most relevant and fashionable product into the marketplace.
YOUTHFUL FASHIONABLE CUSTOMER
Office is the footwear brand for the youthful UK and European shopper. Customers can find a broad curated range of the latest trend and ‘in-demand’ footwear, whether they are shopping for branded footwear or Office’s own-label product.
PROVEN FASHION FORMULA
Office has specialist teams across a mix of product from ‘heels through to sneakers’ that ensure the brand is relevant. This fashion philosophy is driven by a consistent buying and merchandising process developed over many years that allows the teams to continually develop their knowledge of the brands, product and markets, and this has been enhanced with Truworths’ buying, planning and sourcing knowledge over the past year.
A sophisticated new merchandise planning system was implemented during the second half of the year.
Office is able to offer a range of the best global brands and, in addition, exclusive access to limited edition product through strong brand relationships. These relationships have been developed over many years and Office works closely with its partners to develop branded exclusives.
Office is recognised as an important, strategic account with its branded product partners who value the team’s understanding of the market. Office enjoys product priority on best sellers as well as being able to apply a shared risk approach that gives the business the ability to return and cancel product should the need arise.
Office’s own-brand product is sourced mainly from Europe, Brazil, India and China. Specialist suppliers are identified based on their ability to deliver the most exclusive desirable product at the best quality. The buyers and the design team select the supplier best suited to achieve the desired look and quality, while also meeting the required pricing, order flexibility and supply reliability. This approach is supported by frequent factory visits by buying and design teams to ensure that supplier relationships are optimised while understanding factory capabilities and honing the overall design process.
FORECASTING FASHION TRENDS
Designers and buyers work closely with key suppliers to track trends and ensure the products reflect the latest looks.
Trend information is sourced through international trade fairs, online subscriptions, social media, international and local retail inspiration as well as global and local street trends. Celebrity styling and events are also monitored to ensure the ‘must have’ items are available.
Initial information used to formulate seasonal trends is expanded throughout the season as further trends become evident, with the buying teams being constantly updated on fast react items and trends.
Office aims to balance short lead time product sourced from European suppliers against longer lead sources that allow for fashion product to be tested in the market with limited risk before maximising sales once the product’s potential is understood.
The buying and design process is constantly evolving to ensure Office is the first to react to trends. While design and buying continue to work seasonally, the teams have adapted to customers’ desire to ‘buy now, wear now’ and also recognise the need to provide relevant fast product to respond to the many new ‘micro, flash trends’ that emerge in the fast-paced fashion footwear market.
SUPERIOR QUALITY FASHION
Customers expect quality footwear and the buying and technical teams work with suppliers to ensure that the product meets or even exceeds all European Union testing standards as well as Office’s own quality control process.
The buying and technical teams consider both aesthetics and fit in developing products and ensure that the best of both is achieved.
Regular visits are undertaken to suppliers’ factories to review manufacturing, ethical and quality standards.
Office is committed to providing customers with product manufactured under ethical working conditions. This means footwear should be produced lawfully, through fair and honest dealing, in decent conditions and without exploiting people or damaging the environment. Specifically with regards to the prevention of modern slavery and human trafficking, Office applies a code of conduct across its own-label supply chain that is based on the International Labour Organisation conventions and recommendations. A formal statement by the board supporting Office’s commitment to prevent modern slavery and human trafficking is published annually on its website.
All own-brand suppliers and manufacturers are required to adhere to the Office code of conduct. The code is designed to be fair and achievable, and to promote the ongoing development of suppliers.