The original leisurewear brand – adapted, reimagined and redefined for today’s fast-changing market – Front Row & Co. celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. Here, brand manager, Elaine Fyfe, looks back at what made Front Row the iconic brand it is today and the secret to standing the test of time.
Soon after the first Rugby World Cup was held, a gap in the market was identified for plain rugby shirts for players and supporters alike. This prompted the launch of the Front Row leisurewear brand in 1991; the same year the countries of the then Five Nations Championship (England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland and France) jointly hosted the second world cup.
There from the very beginning, the original FR001 Rugby Shirt is the product that launched Front Row 30 years ago, marking the brand as the pioneer of rugby styles in the world of the garment decoration and resale. Still in the range today, this classic later inspired the lighter-weight FR100, securing the brand’s legacy as the market-leader.
We came into the picture in 2009 when Henbury adopted Front Row & Co. into its portfolio of brands. As is the aim for all Henbury Brands, we looked to see how the brand could evolve with the market while keeping true to the original brand identity.
With heritage-led fashion having an impact on the high street, we found that the Front Row brand became increasingly popular among colleges, universities, clubs and societies. The decision was taken to rebrand with a new signature logo; its serif font signifying a crest, in-keeping with the style of the newer market base. We fondly refer to this time as the brand’s college years!
In 2014, we spotted that the demand for easily rebrandable garments was emerging which led to the introduction of the House Colours range, a collection of tag-free colour co-ordinated leisure clothing. Through this opportunity, we expanded Front Row & Co. further into the equestrian and varsity market while still nodding to the heritage club and society elements of the brand. This tag-free range proved to be a massive hit for those who wanted to create their own identity with ease.
Keeping up with the times, we recognised that our crested logo started to lose impact on digital outputs as technology advanced. It graduated into something cleaner and more modern in 2016, the logo which you might be more familiar with today.
Change in direction
This change in direction also helped to open up the brand to a wider market because in the end, our core strength lies in producing leisurewear to the highest of standard for the purpose of garment decoration and resale, no matter the sector. We always encourage customers to take a fresh look at the brand as our styles are so versatile and adaptable to many different industries.
By adopting a cleaner look to our photography and continuing to develop premium retail-ready products, we have been successful in showcasing the styles themselves and engaging with a more universal audience in recent times. We’ve seen new business with progressive independent fashion brands, while retaining our loyal base amongst traditional sectors such as tourism, hospitality, military clubs and of course our heritage rugby, nautical and equestrian markets.
Knowing that rebranding is often a primary requirement for both our heritage and fashion customers, Front Row & Co. now proudly offers Tag Free products across almost 80% of the range; while the remaining long-standing favourites are in the process of making the change, for easier rebranding.
From the FR134/ FR135 Breton Striped T-Shirts giving a nod to the brand’s nautical heritage, to the more recent FR006 Panelled Quarter Zip combining our rugby legacy with the oversized fashion trend, and the FR640/ FR840/ FR841 Striped Cuffed sweats combinations offering trendy varsity vibes – there’s a wide offer of ready-to-wear and ready-to-decorate styles.
Designed for teams, clubs, and workplaces; for the carefree and those with a youthful spirit; for brands looking to put their name to quality garments.
Three decades in the making
Front Row is three decades in the making and the range is now a blend of retro favourites and fashion-forward pieces. In the coming year you will see the terms Front Row Heritage and Front Row Fashion more often to help our customers differentiate within the product offer, depending on the style they are looking for and who they are offering it to.
Clothes are made to be worn. ours are made to last. From the very start in 1991, we have prided ourselves in the consistency of the quality of our garments with no compromise. We have strong partnerships with the highest standard of manufacturers around the world so you can trust us to deliver every single time. We continue to stay ahead of the curve and continue to evolve with the direction of the market while staying true to ourselves and our origins – that’s what makes the brand iconic, unique and original, and what helped Front Row & Co. to stand the test of time.
Watch this space, it’s 2021 and this is Front Row & Co.