Fforme has struck a chord with its sleek and sculptural approach to womenswear, offering mobility and comfort to high achievers.
The brand, which aims to empower its customers with unrestrictive and chic clothes, was among the best-received new brands at New York Fashion Week. Now, its three founders are looking to continue that momentum with an event at the tail end of Paris Fashion Week, planned for Tuesday evening.
“We are creating a luxury brand, not a fashion brand,” said Nina Khosla, Fforme’s cofounder and principal investor. The company’s slow approach to fashion and clienteling — all with a tech-y spin — has won praise as a new business model of note.
Fforme is a direct-to-consumer brand that will primarily live online. While its designs do speak to the kind of new luxe minimalism that has been circulating for a while, its business model sets it apart. The brand offers what is among the most cutting-edge e-commerce luxury sites — displaying clothing in 3D for an immersive, informed experience.
Prices sit on the higher end of luxury — starting at $500 for a T-shirt and maxing out at around $8,000 for outerwear. There is a concerted focus on quality materials, like the supple double-faced cashmere chosen for a coat priced at $7,500.
The company’s trio of founders are now hoping to pick up select wholesale accounts during Paris market week, but see wholesale as more of a tool to grow brand awareness than drive sales. They have made a principal rule, for now, not to accept department store accounts. “It’s really important that we maintain the ticketed value of the merchandise and not become part of the system of markdowns,” said cofounder Laura Vazquez.
Instead, they are busy hiring a customer service specialist to help facilitate d-to-c orders and plan sales events in high-earning vacation hubs like Aspen. They will also hold multiple in-person selling events over the next few months in cities including San Francisco and Los Angeles.
Fforme’s clothes — conceived as architectural shapes for intellectual working women — are designed by creative director Paul Helbers, who previously devised menswear for Louis Vuitton and The Row.
Continuing with Fforme’s d-to-c strategy, Helbers has designed the clothes in a way that requires little tailoring. “We built them in a way that people have ease and comfort without needing major alterations. The clothes were made in an alpha size range and they are relaxed silhouettes that anchor somewhere on the body — not just oversize clothes. It would be just a minor alteration of a sleeve length or the hem of a trouser,” said Vazquez.
So far, it’s translating into sales. In Fforme’s first 12 days of business alone, it saw a $25,000 sales day. Vazquez says sales have been evenly spread across the collection’s varied price points.
Despite the heavy cash flow needed to jumpstart a luxury brand, Khosla says she is in it for the long haul. “It’s a big investment and I think that’s what makes it an interesting opportunity. There is so little that’s new and I think so far we have accomplished what we have set out to do and we are on track,” she said.
“We are committed to growing slowly and that is what makes it really challenging as an investment. It’s a slow growth industry that’s about longevity and having customers that are with you. At this luxury price point it’s all about that slow growth. It’s the only way to make it sustainable,” she added.
Of all the opportunities she could have sprung for, Khosla said she chose fashion because: “When I think about fashion and luxury, what I think is so powerful about them is that they create culture. I am not someone who was going to invent the next AI that will change the world — that’s my brothers. I realized that if I really wanted to have an impact, one of the ways to do that was to work with culture and the question of aspiration.”
With Vazquez’s experience in fashion business management, and Khosla’s provenance in tech to build Fforme’s online experience, Helbers was the missing secret weapon the two women needed.
“At first we were really only talking to female designers and upon meeting with Paul, the rigor and discipline of menswear made sense. Womenswear is faster and more frenetic in a way,” Vazquez said.
Helbers said he thinks Fforme’s early success lies in the fact that, “We are whispering and not shouting. We are not trying to dictate one look, which is more of a fashion approach, and that sets us apart.”
He added: “In America in the past there has been Geoffrey Beene and Halston and not that much is going on. The fact that Americans are embracing this level of luxury shows that. To be heard is a good surprise and also a confirmation in the market that there is an appetite. When there is an enthusiasm it’s a sign of the times moving where things are going.”