RHS licensing manager, Cathy Snow discusses the successful collaboration with Oasis and how it has opened up the brand to new audiences.
Firstly, can you explain how the partnership came about?
Cathy Snow, licensing manager, RHS: Oasis got in touch with us in late 2020 to ask if we would consider working with the brand on a spring collection for 2021. We already knew a few things about Oasis – it was a renowned British fashion brand, it was online-only and it had enjoyed successful collaborations with other heritage brands. It certainly seemed an appropriate partner.
We therefore shared our artwork with Oasis to offer inspiration for its design team – we have access to the RHS Lindley Collections, the world’s finest collection of botanical art.
When did the first collection launch and how successful was it?
The first collection launched in spring/summer 2021 just after the RHS Chelsea Flower Show. It took the inspiration for its floral designs both from original images held in the RHS Lindley Collections and from those available in the RHS Licensing Style Guides. Influencers spent the day being filmed wearing the pieces in the beautiful – and highly appropriate – setting of RHS Garden Wisley to create social media content.
Oasis was very happy with how this was received by its customers – and of course, so were we. In fact we were able to secure some associated promotions to RHS members. While the core target market for Oasis is women in their early-to-mid 30s and our demographic covers a much wider range, the secondary market for Oasis apparel is a significant one, and this collection in particular appealed to a broad range of ages.
In fact the Oasis design team were so pleased with the response to this collection that they started creating an autumn collection straight away – again using floral images because the team had chosen many more than they were able to use in one collection.
We looked for something a bit different for the third collection. We again turned to the archives but this time the focus was on fruit and vegetable images. As before the Oasis team then chose, adapted and redrew a selection of these images for the latest collection (dresses, t-shirts and tops).
Why are collaborations such as the one with Oasis so important for the RHS brand?
These sort of direct-to-retail collaborations are valuable ways to help spread the word about the joys of gardens and gardening – and our own role in supporting both – to a wider audience. For retailers too it’s a good way to attract new customers from the large RHS supporter base. These collaborations also generate a financial return for the RHS, and this helps support our charitable work promoting the art and science of horticulture and encouraging everyone to grow.
In fact as well as Oasis we have enjoyed a great response to partnerships with Coast, George at Asda and Hotter – both from consumers and the licensing industry, which has highlighted these collaborations in awards and nominations.
Absolutely. We already see an extremely broad range of visitors to our five gardens and through our membership (it ranges from young families to adults aged 55+), but we want to attract even more people. Our aim is to encourage everyone to grow no matter their age, ability or the size of space they have available to grow plants.
Our licensing campaign is a marvellous way to extend awareness. For example partnerships like this make us relevant to the fashion-conscious as well as those who enjoy nature and the outdoors, though of course there’s a growing number of people with both interests.
Are further collections with Oasis on the cards? Are there plans to continue to build the RHS brand in the fashion space? If so, any hints as to what we could expect?
The success of the Oasis collaboration was very encouraging, but it was also well-timed. The recent squeeze on disposable income has meant the fashion world is facing significant challenges at the moment, so major promotions on this scale could be difficult for a while.
That said, special edition collaboration pieces may be a focus for the foreseeable future and that is something that we would be happy to work on with the right brands; we still get regular approaches from the fashion industry. And, of course, we have also enjoyed enormous success in affordable kids’ fashion with George at Asda.