High Design

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-By Jen Hocken

Forcast is an Australian label which designs for fashion-forward customers ranging from their teens into their 30s. The company has enjoyed continuous growth, largely due to its winning formula of creating quality clothing at a competitively affordable price. The name “Forcast” was created by Managing Director, Paul Chea, to describe the company’s forward-thinking approach to the future of fashion; it has also proven to be a good fit as, much like the weather, fashion is always changing and evolving.

Forcast specialises in classically cut individual pieces that can be mixed and matched for different occasions, and also remain stylish for many years to come. This is perfect for Australia’s multicultural and cosmopolitan society because these individual pieces can be glammed up or dressed down for all aspects of Australian life, including the city, the beach and the bush.

2012 marks the 20th anniversary of Forcast. Launched in 1992 as a wholesaler, as the business grew it opened an outlet store to clear the end of season stock. The company quickly saw the potential opportunities for growth and expansion. By 2003 it was decided to open the first retail store at Westfield Parramatta. The team at Forcast enjoyed the direct control a bricks-and-mortar store offered, and since then has continued to expand into an additional 25 stores, as well as an online store that delivers to customers within Australia. There are plans to expand its customer base internationally, and shoppers in New Zealand already have access to the online store.

Suburban markets are a key target for Forcast, as their dense populations generate greater exposure. Targeting the suburban market is also a good strategy due to lower rental rates – particularly important in light of the economy’s impacts on the retail sector. General Manager Tina Dao says that each store must be able to afford the rent on its own in order to be profitable and viable; it is careful and calculated decisions like these that have helped Forcast see success for twenty years straight.

Every day, online shopping is becoming more popular all over the world. From clothing to groceries to alcohol, it is a growing market – there are some people who exclusively do their shopping online. Forcast understands that it is important to access as much of its target market as possible, and so the company has created an innovative, eye catching online store with easy navigation and checkout as well as exclusive online offers. There is a lot of competition in the online world of shopping, but one advantage Forcast has is that customers in Australia can go into a physical store to try the clothes on before buying them online. This helps them get to know the exact sizes and reassures the customer of the quality of Forcast’s clothing.

According to General Manager Tina Dao, Forcast’s online store has been very successful, having grown in popularity and sales just as strongly as in-store shopping, only with a fraction of the setup and overhead cost. The Forcast website is definitely something worth checking out. Visually stunning and easy to use, it offers a tantalizing glimpse into Forcast’s pieces, from tops to dresses, to skirts, to suits, to accessories, and much more – as well as some extraordinary sales.

In the editorial section of the Forcast website, there are many examples of the brand’s clothing in the press. The company has been featured in the magazine ‘SHOP til’ you drop’, and is a favourite of Australian X-Factor finalist Ria Pirrelli from Audio Vixen. “Whether I’m up on stage with the band, heading out to an event or going social,” Ria says, “Forcast clothing is really comfortable to wear. A great brand offering style, quality all at the right price”.

Social networking site Facebook has also proven to be a boon for Forcast. The majority of people in Forcast’s target market have a Facebook account, and the company makes good use of the site to send fashion updates, sales information, promotions, and events to thousands of its fans instantaneously. Social media networks will continue to play a large role in getting messages to the customers, winning new customers and increasing brand awareness and exposure.

Forcast does not offer traditional catalogue shopping. Tina explains that as the company’s clothing lines move and evolve quickly and are limited in stock, sticking to a catalogue would make it difficult to ensure satisfaction to all customers. Forcast instead takes a more high-fashion approach with its lookbooks, published every season to let customers know what to expect from the company in the coming season, but Tina says, “at this present time we will leave catalogue shopping for Target and Myer.”

With the company’s rise to success has come increased recognition within Australia. In 2011, Forcast was chosen as the winner of the Australian Business Award for Service Excellence for its outstanding service and professionalism. Tina Dao attributes this award to the faces of Forcast, the employees on the front line. These employees are hired because they want to be a part of the Forcast family, and this forms a close knit team that is exceptional at working together toward the company’s goal.

There are 120 people employed in the retail operations within Forcast’s 26 Australian stores. The team of employees is friendly, and their knowledge of fashion makes for a fun and easy shopping experience. As any shopper knows, the quality of in-store service can make or break any shopping trip, and Forcast deserves credit for putting the work into selecting the right people for the job. The calibre of Forcast’s retail team enables the company to offer a “boutique” atmosphere at an accessible price point, a unique and winning combination to be sure.

Fashion in Australia is becoming more recognised worldwide, a point driven home by the international labels setting up stores in the high fashion areas of Sydney and Melbourne. The country also boasts a number of talented designers who have already received international recognition. Forcast plans to be a part of the growth of Australian fashion worldwide. Tina Dao says fashion in Australia is a multi-billion dollar business and that Forcast “hope[s] to get a slice of it.” Many companies import their fashions, but Forcast works with local designers, and has approximately 10 per cent of its products manufactured locally.

There are many reasons behind Forcast’s success, including its exceptional customer service, the convenience of its online store, and the smart decisions that have guided the company’s growth; ultimately, however, the firm owes much of its success to the high fashion and style available in its stores. The quality of the clothes, and the well designed individual pieces that can be mixed and matched as well as used for any occasion, are the reasons Forcast stands out above other clothing labels.

The future of Forcast will be exciting and inspiring; the company aims to venture into new, unexplored areas, with the intention of increasing brand awareness and continuing to spread its distribution across Australia. Remarkably, Forcast also has plans to go back to its roots; the company is launching a new clothing label that is only for wholesale. The name of the label is Corrupt, and, as Tina Dao says, it is “for the fashionista and is all about youth, zest, glam and confidence. It is highly inspired by high street fashion trends and most importantly, pleasing to the purse!”

Making Sense of Management

Management is the art, or science, of getting things done through people. Sounds fairly straightforward – except for the fact that people are not robots waiting to do our bidding. People have their own minds, motivations, and goals. So how do managers keep operations – and the people behind them – running as planned?

December 16, 2018, 6:40 AM AEDT