Fast fashion is the new trend that saw new brands like Fashion Nova outrank household names like Chanel and Dior in just a few years. Buying trendy and affordable high-end clothes and accessories has become a lifestyle for many. And for CEO Richard Saghian, a successful entrepreneurial endeavor yielded results beyond his wildest dreams.
Different than thrift stores or websites like Gilt designed to sell new luxury goods at a discount, Fashion Nova’s model of fast fashion retail relies on fresh collections, affordable outfits, and a variety of styles and fits that cater to clients from all walks of life.
As with many small businesses, the first year of Fashion Nova was a slow one. The store remained “asleep” for months as products – but not customers – steadily poured in. With an overflow of product and no buyers, Fashion Nova’s storage space and profit margin were quickly dwindling. But with the website launch in 2013, things took a different turn for the novel brand.
“At the time, I knew the importance of putting the brand online and understood it was a good opportunity. So I took the gamble, and it paid off,” Saghian says.
Shoppers in Los Angeles soon began to realize that Fashion Nova was a treasure trove of excellent-quality clothing and accessories, and the business took off. Next, Saghian followed with a strategically-crafted marketing campaign that capitalized on the growing usage of social media. It catapulted Fashon Nova’s Instagram following to a whopping 17 million.
Fashion Nova has become so highly acclaimed that it often draws in famous faces as customers and collaborators. To have celebrities like Cardi B work with the brand on a new collection is certainly exciting, but Fashion Nova has carved a niche for itself in a market that many thought was impossible to break into.
Increased consumer recognition of fast fashion, along with technological advances, has made running Fashion Nova easier than ever. And with Richard’s prior experience in the fashion industry, he seems to have a good grasp of what sells. His approach to making social media part of the brand’s marketing strategy has made it really easy for search engines to find Fashion Nova on the Web because the fairly common store name is a popular search term. However, it’s not just new customers who frequent Fashion Nova; Richard Saghian attributes the success of his business to the trust he has established and maintained with longtime, loyal clients.
Fashion Nova may not have started with the goal to become a full-service, omnichannel fast fashion business, but as the market evolved – the brand grew to a constantly rotating inventory of desirable goods with knowledgeable sales staff, one website and five brick-and-mortar locations.
Online, Fashion Nova focuses predominantly on its Instagram campaigns, making it easy for customers to share their outfits and style with millions of other users via the brand’s #FashionNova #FashionNovaCurve #FashionNovaMEN tags. The overarching challenge is to blend those very comprehensive experiences into a single customer journey, easily started and stopped across channels.
Putting a lot of focus on online growth and social media presence paid off for Fashion Nova. Saghian says that their sales have grown “exponentially” every year since it launched online in 2013, while high-street brands like Chanel and Dior are reporting declines year after year. Part of Fashion Nova’s success comes from the brand targeting social media users and working with a network of about 3,000 influencers who update their Instagram feeds every day. New collections and new designs are two other weapons in Fashion Nova’s arsenal, helping them achieve fame in an ever-crowded landscape.
Fashion Nova is targeting customers looking for a luxury product and a quality shopping experience. There is no shortage of fast fashion websites, but Fashion Nova introduces an element of personalization by monitoring what’s being worn online and sending trending styles to a design team that can produce sample products in less than 24 hours.
The company currently works with about 500 sewing factories across Los Angeles. About 80% of its products are made in LA, and the local factories are part of the reason the company can maintain a warp speed pace of new releases. Even by the standards of the fast fashion industry, where giants like H&M now move styles from catwalks to store shelves in a matter of weeks, Fashion Nova is setting a higher standard.
It is difficult to deny that the affordability of the clothes played a big role in Fashion Nova’s rise to fame. Shoes are priced anywhere between $30 for a pair of ankle boots or heels to $55 for a pair of thigh-high boots. Dresses are as low as $28, and no more than $40. “We’re trying to make the fashion industry play by the rules,” said Saghian. “I don’t think it’s fair for a brand to sell an item for $100 that they made for $20.”
For people who love to shop online and draw inspiration from celebrities on Instagram, Fashion Nova touches on all the bases. Approximately 90% of Fashion Nova’s Instagram content is user-generated. This tactic allows the brand to not only highlight the experiences of their fans but also shows how it plays a role in their lives. It also drives engagement, as posts with UGC have a 4.5% higher conversion rate than non-UGC posts.
As department stores experience a drop in sales and stores like Sears, Gap, Macy’s and Kate Spade have all announced that they are shuttering shops across the country, Fashion Nova is enjoying an increase in sales since 2017.
Fast fashion brands like Fashion Nova are winning because they have a smart business model. Fashion should not only be popular with consumers, it should be affordable if you want people to buy your merchandise. As many Americans found themselves without a raise for years or taking lower-paid jobs to make ends meet, getting good value for their money while also shopping for quality clothes has become more and more appealing.
As brands like Chanel and Dior continue to fall victim to their own ‘bigger-than-life’ status, fast fashion retailers like Fashion Nova are winning with a niche marketing strategy and a business model that works.