We met Richard Marsh, the Managing Director at Rainbow Club, to ﬁnd out the secrets behind the company’s success, their recent collaboration with Ivory and Co., and more...
Words by Sophie Vening
In 1986 Rainbow Club launched its very ﬁrst footwear collection with the inaugural styles Cindy, Connie and Crystal. The three ivory satin court shoes were designed for the UK market and could be dyed to one of 50 diﬀerent colour choices – an industry ﬁrst.
Find out more about Rainbow Club here.
More than three decades later and, selling nearly 100,000 pairs of Rainbow Club shoes annually, brides still remain the brand’s focus and its bespoke colour expertise is unrivalled in the footwear industry. The brand even designed, manufactured and hand coloured the little bridesmaids’ shoes for the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge in 2011.
So, what’s the secret to the brand’s success? “Our design handwriting is a crucial part of our company, and we’ve worked with a number of leading industry names to maintain this,” said Richard Marsh. “Joanne Stoker, who designed our 2019 collections, is an award-winning MA graduate in footwear from London College of Fashion’s Cordwainers and was mentored at Jimmy Choo."
Rainbow Club’s timeless elegance mixed with on trend detailing is what sets it apart from its competitors and its latest collection, oﬀering customers a collection of stories rather than just one themed range, delivers just this. “There are more than 20 new styles this season with key designs featuring PVC cut outs, curved silhouettes, ﬂoral inspired embellishment and new block heels,” said Richard.
“Dulcie, with its embellished buckle is our new ﬂat for 2019. For a classic court with a diﬀerence, the Soﬁ a shoe takes inspiration from Dior with PVC cut-out detailing perfect for the fashion-forward bride. We’ve also introduced two heeled sandals, too. Harley is plain ﬁnished with a delicate ankle strap, whereas, to add a touch of glitz, the Dakota shoe is ﬁnished with silver ﬁ ne shimmer detailing on the toe.”
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When asked what his favourite shoes are from the brand’s 2019 collection, Richard responded: “It has to be the Farrah, Margot and Kennedy II, which actually happen to be our most popular styles at the moment.”
“Farrah and its curved silhouette with modern translucent detailing takes inspiration from high-end catwalks. A ﬁrst for us, Margot, from our Limited Edition collection, provides brides with an elegant style ﬁnished with intricate ﬂ oral inspired embellishment on the toe. Whereas, for a more simplistic style, our new Kennedy II is a classic and sophisticated court with a twist on the heel.”
In such a competitive industry, Richard suggests listening and responding to customer’s requests and suggestions is crucial for a ﬂourishing brand. “Embellishment and colour are becoming more important to brides, with ready-to-wear catwalk trends playing a growing inﬂuence,” Richard said.
“We’ve increased our range of embellished footwear and shoe clips, introducing 10 new styles to give retailers plenty of dazzling choices. The two-dress trend has morphed to include double the accessories, and we’re ﬁnding more and more brides want a second pair of colourful shoes to party the night away in” – which is where the company’s library of over 280 shades comes in handy!
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Richard has also found customers becoming more environmentally friendly and cost-savvy. “The internet and social media has opened the bride’s eyes to being more experimental and, in some instances, wanting to wear her wedding shoes again,” he said. In order to meet this new trend, Rainbow club has introduced more ‘sparkly’ shoes as well as its Complimentary Colour Customisation – where hand colouring is included in the price.
“Whether the bride is wanting their shoes dyed for an event now, or 12 months after her wedding, she just has to return them to us and we’ll dye them free of charge,” explained Richard. “It breaks our heart that our shoes are only worn once; we want them to be enjoyed again and again.”
Being stocked in over 600 retailers across the UK and Ireland and over 2,500 in Europe, Rainbow Club sees the beneﬁts of building good working relationships and understands having a good rapport with stockists will ultimately result in high sales and brand success.
“The perfect retailer is the one who appreciates that, with the right focus and energy, they can sell almost as much in accessories as the sale of a dress. It’s about being creative, nimble and also using social media to engage with your customers and drive sales,” said Richard.
“However, we also understand that the retail climate is more diﬃcult for our stockists and we try to ensure that we play our part in helping and supporting all of our retailers wherever possible,” which is why attending The Harrogate Bridal Show is a top priority for the company.
“It’s a great way to showcase the brand’s new collections to our top stockists and buyers. We always identify new retailers prior to the show and – alongside our existing clients – invite them to the stand to preview the collection, see our new marketing and to share in champagne and homemade doughnuts!”
Rainbow Club has long been admirers of Sarah and the Ivory & Co business: “Our brands co-exist very harmoniously, are similarly positioned and we also share the same values in relation to putting emphasis on unique design, high quality, personal service and the importance of creating a brand, so it was only natural that we took the next step of working with likeminded experts,” said Richard.
The concept was to create a footwear design that focused on shoe clips that were quintessentially bridal. “We wanted to give our customers something even more special and unique – and most importantly – give each bride a complementary look with her ensemble, without looking quaint,” said Richard.
The Limited Edition Collection features embroidery, rose gold accents and ingredients that are the exact complement to Ivory & Co’s new collection. “With embellished heels set to be a major trend for 2019, we think Willow and its beautiful embellished heel will be a best seller,” predicted Richard.
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When asked if there are any other plans on the horizon, Richard responded: “There are a number of exciting projects that we’re working on that will launch over the next 18 months. An established design talent is joining us imminently, helping evolve Rainbow Club’s style DNA,” revealed Richard.
“Alongside our mainline collection, we’ll also be introducing more limited edition drops and collaborations, allowing retailers to buy-in to exclusive collections throughout the year and market accessories as a key focus, too. Similarly, our marketing model has evolved and we’re now producing smaller more frequent photo shoots, so that we have fresh content to keep brides engaged with our designs and brand.”
Lastly, Richard advised we watch this space…. “We’re having a makeover – the refreshed identity will balance our heritage and bridal expertise with a new modernity that’s both reﬁ ned and stylish.”
If you loved this interview with Rainbow Club, read our catch up with Emmy Scarterfield from Emmy London here.