Meghan Markle and Prince HarryInvictus Games, Toronto, Canada - 25 Sep 2017


BEING MORE DIRECT: Having relaunched the business as direct-to-consumer more than a year ago, Nonoo started to think about on-demand manufacturing four or five months in. Seasonality was an initial motivator to sell straight to shoppers, but sustainability made her seek a manufacturing partner that would spare any fabric liability, take care of marking and grading and ensure cutting and sewing with a two-day turnaround time.

After six factories bid for the direct-to-consumer business, the designer decided on her existing partner — a “very entrepreneurial” Chinese factory owner, who was born and raised in New York City. Once an order is placed on her site, the item is cut and sewn in two days and then shipped directly to customers with U.S. ones receiving their merchandise in three days. “In a way, it’s this idea of going back to old school luxury but almost on a fast fashion calendar. In doing that, I realized that not only would I cut out more inventory, I would also cut out contributing to more waste. I would also be able to offer more sizes,” she said.

Earlier this month she started offering her Easy Eight in sizes from extra small to extra large, and from size 0 to 14. Previously, her sizing was from extra small to large, and from size 0 to 8. “I’m able to be more inclusive from when I had to take a stock position from before,” she said.

(The interchangeable approach is not a new one though. Bonnie Cashin introduced Seven Easy Pieces in 1975 and 10 years later Donna Karan did the same with the same name.)

With most retail prices ranging from $145 to $450, the eight black-and-white pieces can be used to create 22 different looks. A $750 jumpsuit is the highest priced item. The collection includes the “Husband” shirt, which “Suits” actress Meghan Markle helped publicize by wearing it to last month’s Invictus Games with her boyfriend Prince Harry. Markle and Nonoo are friends, but the designer declined to comment about her or her influence on Misha Nonoo’s sales. To step away from the idea of seasonality, Nonoo launched her Easy 8 collection as her reductionist approach. Items are introduced in step with the respective time of year, such as the aforementioned jumpsuit that is designed for summer weddings or other events. “The ethos of my collection is taking this woman from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.,” Nonoo said.

With her new business model in place, Nonoo expects to at least double sales compared to last year. The designer also said she is working on a new pop-up strategy. “A lot of people have done pop-ups and some of them have been successful but it’s been kind of random and haphazard. This will be how pop-ups can be reimagined in a cohesive and consistent way,” Nonoo said. “The beauty of being online is that I can see where my main cities are. It’s the two coasts, of course — Boston, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco — and then D.C., Chicago, Houston, Dallas, Austin wherever there [is] a consistent base of professional women,” she added.

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