Nigel Greene On His Success Story With FILA UK

The 645: Where did you grow up?

Nigel: Dublin in a place called Finglas, born and raised. Very tough little town, rough around the edges but we were raised in a certain way so we were always going to do certain things.

My brother David and I are exactly the same, we were all raised to work hard for what we had. What can I say, one of seven kids, so mum and dad had to work very hard to look after us. Fun times.

The 645: What was your first job?

Nigel: (Laugh) I was 11, I think, and I had a paper round, I was a paperboy.

I delivered newspapers after school Monday to Friday, and then I delivered every Sunday morning. Just to a local estate round.

The job was passed down to me from my sisters Linda and Mandy when they were of similar age, then they passed it on to the younger brothers and sisters. It was fun.

The 645: What job are you doing today?

Nigel: Oh, how long have you got. (Laughs)

I’m the Head of Group Marketing Creative Social and PR for the Batcha group or subsidiary group BBGroup. The group has numerous fashion labels including Fila, Sergio Tacchini, Russell Athletic, Hi-Tec, Urban Stone, Stirling Cooper, and now Juicy Couture, which has been in the press to name a few. There are a few more brands in there it’s a lot of work, and late nights but worth it.

The 645: How did you get into that role?

Nigel: So I have been in fashion for almost 18 years. I started as an administrator, then moved my way up to being a buying director for a group of 32 stores in Ireland. 

I came to London with 10 years of experience and every door I knocked on answered, “Umm no, you’re not relevant for the market you have to make yourself more current in the UK”. That’s ridiculous I said, I had 237 international brands on my account, but they were like it’s irrelevant, it’s a different aesthetic, let’s say. 

 

So at 30 years of age, I had to become a fashion intern in London. Not good when you have to pay the bills. So yeah I did an internship with Dazed and Confused, AnOther, AnOther Man all under the same roof at Dazed.

I worked with Karen Langley for two and a half years, across Beyonce, Vogue Italia, Vogue China, Vogue Russia and cover shoots with Miles Aldridge. Then two years on Beyonce’s Team with videos, performances, The Grammys, red carpet and performance, you name it we did it.

I also worked with my brother David on a couple of fashion projects for Rihanna’s River Island collection. Got to meet Rihanna, that was very cool, she was very hands-on, it was nice to work with her.

Then I knew the owner of the Batra Group company, Rajiv Batra and his wife as personal friends. I often went to dinner with them.

Fila at the time was having a big resurgence I had sent my CVs and updates, but nothing came of it.

He would always keep in touch with me, and then one night I went for dinner and he said I think it’s time you came for a chat now.

So I went for a chat with Fila’s brand director Paul Siviter. After the meeting, I wasn’t very sure that I wanted to work in Watford as there’s a lot of travelling included and after putting in so much graft for so long working 16 hour days, I didn’t feel it was feasible.

Then they mentioned they had this building in Shoreditch and asked if I could go meet the realtor.

Two weeks later Bob’s your uncle and Fanny’s your aunt and I’m given a building in Shoreditch on my own.

I was on a consultancy for six months and told to see what happens.

Two years later I’m here with 24 people including freelancers and we are about to invest in another building across the road. If all goes through we should have about 45 people on this base, if not more. Exciting but a lot of work.

The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK
The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK
The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK

The 645: 5 years ago Fila went through a reinvention, what changed for the brand?

Nigel: I would say it was a period of nostalgia, I suppose resurgence. The brand has always been around, it’s always had that heritage and that history.

It was a good time for heritage brands, 90s brands, terrace culture brands, because that’s what was coming through on the catwalks, sportswear, and we capitalised off it.

Rajiv, our president originally was involved in many different areas of Fila and has had many different licences and regions over the years. Now he currently holds Fila UK, Ireland, Middle East, Africa, and India.

He worked closely with many retailers doing a lot of SMU Special Makeup Products for retailers that are exclusive to them. Always knocking on doors until he eventually got Urban Outfitters involved, then we’d start sourcing, designing, and producing products for Urban Outfitters.

After a while we got more stores and the States took notice, and now we produce, design, resource, and manufacture all the products for Fila US, all done by Batra group in the UK (Batra Brothers Group).

The 645: What are your favourite items this season?

Nigel: Umm, I love the Fila and Liam Hodges Mindblower trainer, I have it in all three styles.

I’m a big trainers man, I dress with a smart casual trouser with maybe a T or Hawaiian Shirt on top and a casual trainer.  I don’t like to really do fancy.

From Hi-tec, I love the Badwater 146 trainer. I’m wearing it today.

It is also having quite a big resurgence as we have done a lot of work with Matches and Net a Porter on that brand. Also the key pieces from SS20 which I can’t talk about right now but some of my favourite pieces from that are a silk shirt believe it or not.

The 645: What can we see from the brand in the next year?

Nigel: We have a few exciting collaborations coming up, we are continuing our relationship with Fendi. We have two seasons with Fendi so more exciting times to come with the brand let’s say.

Just keeping the momentum of a growing brand and making sure we engage the customers. We have an archive project coming up with footwear to showcase all of our histories on footwear, just like we did in July 2017, when we showcased 100 years of Fila history and apparel.

The brand has been around since 1911, but apparel and sportswear started for the brand in the 70s.

The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK
The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK

The 645: What is Fila doing for its younger audience?

Nigel: We are always making sure that we are engaging with our younger audience and all cultures and subcultures. We throw parties with free drinks as a way to keep people engaged.

I was at an event a couple of months ago in Glasgow, there as a range review and Fila set up a party in association with SCHUE footwear. So I partnered with Alexa from Wave magazine and we had music acts like Kate Stuart, Cass Jones, DJ Jamma. It was absolutely cool.

I’m aware I’m getting older and I don’t know everything about youth engagement and what the people want. But we are trying to cover all ends of the spectrum with top tier collaborations with fashion houses, and lower-tier collaborations with skateboard companies, we are doing everything to tap into all different genres. We are a brand with a style for everyone, so we are doing a million things all at the same time to engage with our younger audience by keeping the focus on events parties, telling stories, archival events, history, education, Instagram, engaging with our Instagrammers and influencers, the list is endless.

The 645: Fila footwear is one of the hottest trends on the market at the moment, any big collaborations in the pipeline?

Nigel: Fila footwear for us here in Europe hasn’t really been much of a thing, to be honest. It wasn’t doing so well maybe three years ago. Our footwear resurgence has really just happened in the last two years and a really big style for that is the Disruptor trainer.

To put it into context Virgil Ablo, the creative Director of Loui Vuitton Men and owner of Offwhite won with Nike collaboration the year before, and the year before 2017 was Rihanna’s Fenty Puma trainer collaboration.

So we are in good company here. I think we just got so many features and it grew in popularity. It’s not falling off the map and now we have launched kids wear with Schuh footwear exclusively.

Obviously, we are very famous for footwear as the Disruptor was an original model from the 90’s that we reinvented today.

We have just done MSGM for Fashion week as well as a Disruptor trainer made in Italy full glitter Disruptor launched at Milan Fashion Week earlier this year. Then we did a partnership with Vogue US for the Met Gala red carpet.

Then we have a new big trend coming up this year called the Provenance, this is a big focus for us this year.

In total, we did 52 collaborations with one style but 52 variations.

The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK
The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK

The 645: So what is your idea of the perfect style?

Nigel: I think style is completely individual and each person dresses how they feel each day. Your body is an art platform to express how you feel through fashion.

For me, it’s more about feeling good. I don’t think you could say to anybody that you should dress a certain way, or have a certain style. Obviously, I have to have an idea of what works commercially and what works for brands, but personally, I think it’s about individualism and expression.

The 645: Aside from Fila who’s your favourite designer?

Nigel: Hmm, I would say Miuccia Prada. I think she can do no wrong, menswear, womenswear across the board she’s absolutely amazing.

I do also love Dries Van Noten, and I think Ricardo Ticci is doing a great job at Burberry now. Obviously, Christopher was amazing before and he’s made a lot of money for the brand but I think what Ricardo Ticci will do now for Burberry, it will be off the chain.

The 645: Who do you aspire to?

Nigel: I don’t really you know. I don’t really ever look up to anybody. I mean I have always loved Anna Wintour and I’ve met her once. (Laughs)

Just because I was intrigued by the whole hype surrounding the movie The Devil Wears Prada. But I don’t love the idea of b*tches in fashion. I hate that.

But I do love the idea of the not giving a fuck attitude, you know because I wish I was more like that. I’m a little bit softer in person.

I suppose our company president is someone to look up to. I really admire him. He’s full of great advice and always on hand and very helpful, I’ve learned so much from him. Just with how to deal with people and how to present myself, and present in general.

Business ethics, he’s very humble, successful, and family orientated.

I’m always going to be family orientated and not shy away from that.

I love what I do, I love the job and putting the work into it but at the end of the day family comes first. So I just aspire to do well for my family and not really up to anyone else.

The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK
The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK

The 645: What was the first album you ever purchased?

Nigel: Kylie. (Laughs)It was definitely Kylie, and then the Lighthouse family came a close second and then maybe the Corrs.

The 645: What are you listening to on repeat at the moment?

Nigel: Billie Eilish, all the way she’s f*cking amazing. She’s such a young girl but she’s so talented, I haven’t stopped listening to her. I’ve listened to her about 9,000 times and it never gets old for me.

The 645: What are you currently reading?

Nigel: Just started Homosapiens, I hear good things. I literally just started this week, Glasgowwhile I was travelling for work.

I also bought The 4 Agreements,which was highly recommended by my friend Dean. Oh and The Japanese Art Of Not Giving A Fuck.I’m excited to read that.

The 645: If you could live anywhere in the world where and why?

Nigel: Los Angeles, I have fallen in love with it. My Brother David is there and I just love the idea of being able to make a plan for the weekend and being able to stick to it not based on the weather. (Laughs) I just love the outdoors life of it, the hiking, beaches, running, and the healthy lifestyle. I just love everything about it.

It’s the dream.

I also love South Africa Cape Town, the food was the best I’ve ever had.

The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK
The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK
The details, the resurgence and the success of Nigel Greene at FILA UK

The 645: There is a fire in your house what do you take?

Nigel: Ooh, I mean I’d like to say family pictures but there are too many, I’d be there all day and I’d be dead by then. I don’t really want to say this but probably my laptop and my jewellery. (Laughs)

The 645: Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?

Nigel: I don’t like to plan that, but I’ve just progressed from where I am now.

Not necessarily in a different company but maybe running a bigger empire, which would include progressing here having more people and a tighter unit.

At the moment, although at the company we have had rapid growth and rapid resurgence, I just need more and more to be able to manage it properly and grow the business team and structure.

Ideally, David and I have discussed this, but we would like to have our own creative company. We both want to do really well at the top of our game because there is only a certain amount of time you can make money for other people.

I’d love to be happy in my working life, to be settled in a nice house in Highbury. Maybe to set up a creative business with my brother David and work together on it. I think we’d both work hard in our chosen fields, and I think if we get together and merge those fields we could be very successful.

@nigelgreene
www.fila.co.uk

Words: Tatyana Chmaissani
Photo: Ioannis Koussertari