SUCCESS STORY: 4 Fierce Lessons That Led To The Nasty Gal Phenomenon

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Hey guys,

Last week we published an article with the lessons emerging designers could learn out of Nasty gal’s bankruptcy.  After having briefly analyzed what lead the fashion wunderkind to bankruptcy, I wanted to remember the effervescence of the beginning.

From a simple eBay account to nearly 100 million dollars in sales in six years: in spite of the tragic turn of events, Sophia Amoruso certainly did a few things right.
So what could emerging brands learn out of that?

#1 – Rather than selling what works, sell what you are excellent at

Sophia Amoruso is excellent at one thing: bargain buying hand picked vintage garment. She has a real skill in seeing an old garment’s potential, how it can be revamped and where to get it for an interesting price.

It’s a combination of very specific skills actually.   
By following that formula she did not try to copy other existing fashion stores, she built something out of something she was excellent at.

Think about which fashion skill you are really good at. Maybe it is the way you work on leather, jeans, the way you drape a garment. Or the way you hand paint on fabric or leather?
Really think of what you’re excellent at and think how you can apply it on your own fashion business.

#2 – Three words: Branding, branding. And branding

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When Sophia Amoruso started  Nasty gal, she built a proper fashion branding right from the start. 

She immediately gave a certain vibe to the store. The name she chose to begin with, was inspired by soul singer Betty Davis’s song. The photos all had this vintage rock feeling. It was well thought and cohesive from the beginning.
Some beginner brands I have worked with either are not aware how branding vital is to a fashion line or they struggle a bit to achieve a cohesive image. For example, they want their brand to be about glamour and luxury but in reality when you watch the collection or the visuals, it fails to give the sophisticated look it aims for. 


This free resource explains what you should work on to start a clothing line. The branding concept is the first thing you should start with. Explore the first chapter of our free ebook to shape a proper branding for your own fashion business. 

#3 – Have the humility to learn what is key for the fashion industry

Let’s take an example from another industry. When you buy a smartphone, companies compete by promoting the quality of the photos/videos it takes, the size of the screen, the possibility to unlock it using your fingerprint etc. However none of the phone company has ever promoted the ability for a smartphone to make proper calls. It is a given! when you buy a smartphone, the phone function is expected to be excellent.
In the fashion industry, it is the same. There are a few basics that are expected from the start:

  • a good fit
  • proper finishing
  • professional photos
  • a good looking website

Fashion IS about image. You cannot skip that one. Your visuals have to look no less than STUNNING.
Sophia Amoruso did not have any fashion designer education. However she made Nasty Gal a success and she was willing to learn what it would take to thrive.
She was humble enough to acknowledge she did not know and learn about it. She read books to learn how to run an eBay store. She also learned how to take photos.

Ask yourself what is important in this industry. Figure out what you still need to learn.
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If you take care of your own website and photos, do they reach the expectations of the industry? Or maybe you need to learn basic SEO techniques or how to run a business?
Find out in which key area you need to improve and either hire someone to take care of it or learn about it.

#4 – The power of tribe

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Sophia Amoruso grew her tribe using My Space. She first identified Nylon magazine gave a similar feeling to Nasty Gal. She thought their followers would most relate to her auctions. So she engaged with them. She meticulously answered all their comments.
Which already existing community would be interested in relating with your brand? Go on social media (especially Instagram, Twitter, Facebook). Check the communities and where you feel you find a similar vibe as yours, engage with people.


Did you find this article interesting?

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It’s About Feelings

Hi Guys,
Last week the fashion business club I run organized an event. The theme of the event was how to operate a career change by creating a fashion brand. We invited four great fashion entrepreneurs from Paris who succeeded and shared their success formulas. It was very interesting. Above all, the four of them used different techniques to reach their success. And at some point of the event, it became very technical.

A variety of techniques but what does really matter to make sales?  

You can interview hundreds of potential customers on the street, make a crowdfunding campaign, use a fashion blog specialized in your niche with a high number of viewers or apply growth hacking techniques… There are numerous ways today to validate the adequacy of your product with your target customer. There may be some solutions that would fit better with your personality but it doesn’t really matter which one you pick.
So what does really matter?

Have a strong vision, make people experience and feel your fashion brand

What matters first is your vision and what you have done so far to share your vision with your customers.
You have a dream. But what is it? Channel the Martin Luther King in you and answer this question: what is your dream?
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What is the concept of your fashion brand?
How should your customer feel when seeing and wearing your pieces?
Have a look at your collection. Do the pieces you designed really express your fashion DNA?
Have a look at the photos you put on your website. Do they reflect your vision?

And what about your website? Does it convey the image you had in mind?
Or maybe worse…you don’t even know exactly what the concept of your fashion brand is. And you probably think it’s good to target everybody on this planet. Wrong!!!!!

Here is your exercise for today

Grab a pen and a piece of paper and write down what your vision is about. What symbolizes your brand? Which words would you like your fashion brand to be associated with? How can you translate your dream into a concept your customers would also feel and understand? How can you make your customers experience your brand through your website?


Wondering how to help your customers experience your brand?

Find more tools to help you through your fashion business, with the number one FXF guide. “The Fashion Business Plan” by Bako Rambini is available on Amazon.


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SALES: The 6 Key Success Factors To Sell Fashion Online


Hi Guys,
Trends are unanimous: online shopping registers a massive growth (+22% as of February 2016) and outscores brick-and-mortar fashion businesses with a shift from 49% to 51% of total purchases in 2016. Launching an online fashion business is not only less costly but also more likely to grow. That is provided that you do it properly. Here are some advice that we summarized after meeting a few successful online fashion businesses.
Have a clear concept, be consistent
As explained in The Fashion Business Plan and in most of our articles, a clear brand concept and coherence is rule number one to build a successful fashion business.
Why? Firstly because all the fashion professionals (fashion journalists, buyers, PR, photographers, movie producers, investors,…) will ask you the same question: “What is your concept?”. And secondly if your vision is unclear, you will not be able to translate it in a sufficiently striking image and a proper existing lifestyle, meaning you will not be able to reach an adequate target customer. Hence you won’t be able to optimize your sales.

Maybe you’ll sell randomly, but not as much as you could if you had a clear concept. The lack of a clear vision made the best of Michael Kors’s mean quotes on Project Runway:
You don’t want to be the next Teletubby party dresser so take a pen and a piece of paper and write down what your brand DNA is about.
Have a good website that mirrors your fashion concept
All the successful online fashion brands told us the same: a beautiful website that speaks for your brand DNA is a must have. It’s always baffling when fashion brand wannabes arrive on this already overcrowded industry with cheap-looking websites they just quickly made by themselves, on the ground that their products are good enough. However good your pieces are, trying to sell them through an odd-looking website is a loss of time these days.

Furthermore, to maximize your impact, ensure that it reflects the DNA of your fashion brand.
Invest in good pictures
Again all the online fashion brand owners we spoke to agreed that good pictures are a compulsory investment. You need to have neat HD photos of your prototypes, worn by a model who incarnates your brand DNA. Unless you sell your clothes just to earn a few bucks to make both ends meet, if you want to go big with your fashion business, you need to invest in high quality photos. Some fashion designers we know use the strength of their concept to negotiate the prices and collaborate with professional photographers.
You will need to have at least a photograph of each piece with a plain (mostly white) background. If you can, also have lookbook pictures made, showcasing your design in the lifestyle and the spirit of your brand DNA.
Test and validate your concept

You will firstly need to identify what makes your fashion unique, which brings us back to the fashion brand DNA. On the basis of your written notes, tell a compelling story that embodies your concept.
A good method we heard of to test and validate your fashion concept is to think of three different stories that best represent your brand unique value proposition and put them on three different landing pages.
Validate the concept according to which landing page better worked in terms of number of subscriptions.
Build a community

Each landing page and your website should be able to capture e-mail contacts to send further newsletters.
Use social media to convey your fashion brand DNA

Whether with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or Snapchat, you can use social media to promote your fashion business. The pictures you post should reflect your target customer’s lifestyle. Also use a tone that is coherent with your brand DNA and speaks to your client.


Build your fashion brand DNA

Find more tools to help you in the number one FXF guide. “The Fashion Business Plan” by Bako Rambini is available on Amazon.


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DESIGNER TOOLBOX: How To Use Networking For Your Fashion Brand

Hi Guys, 
I read this amazing article by Startupfashion to help fashion designers boost their fashion brand through networking. 

The article covers pretty much everything from the where, the how to the way to approach people and what to do afterwards. 
As a plus here are other online networks that enabled me to find interesting networking opportunities :
– fashion school events. If you register on their Facebook profile/page, you can be informed of their news. Also regularly the event section on their website. 
– fashion council events. Connect to their social media account and register to their newsletters.
– (look for fashion related groups)

– research “fashion” in Eventbrite 
Photo credit: Gettyimages – DigitalVision –
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