Promoting the wares of others might have helped Arielle Charnas of Something Navy become one of the most sought-after bloggers in the space but now she’s ready to unveil apparel and accessories of her own.
Well, not totally on her own. She had assistance from Nordstrom, which enabled Charnas to parlay her social media influence into a capsule collection with the retailer’s private-label brand, Treasure & Bond. The launch is an ambitious one: The Something Navy X Treasure & Bond line will roll out to 52 Nordstrom doors across the U.S. and Canada, as well as Nordstrom.com on Sept. 25. Comprising 30 ready-to-wear styles, including shoes and accessories codesigned by Charnas, prices start at $49 for a T-shirt and go up to $169 for slouchy, knee-high boots and $199 for a faux shearling jacket.
A landing page teasing the partnership went live today on nordstrom.com, and the 30-year-old influencer, who has hinted at a design collaboration for months without disclosing the retailer she was teaming with, will officially unveil the partnership to her one million Instagram followers.
Like Chiara Ferragni’s Chiara Ferragni Collection footwear, Emily Weiss’ Glossier, Leandra Medine’s MR by Man Repeller shoes, Danielle Bernstein’s Second Skin Overalls and Archive Shoes, Nicolette Mason and Gabi Gregg’s plus-size line Premme and Hello Fashion’s Christine Andrew’s accessory and apparel brand ILY Couture, Charnas wants to build a sustainable business where a healthy portion of revenue is driven by product.
She called the design collaboration with Nordstrom a natural next step for her eight-year-old Something Navy blog, but was forthcoming about her concerns. Charnas never wants to alienate — or push product on — the loyal fan base that catapulted her to super-influencer status.
“It’s tough. I see a lot of people that I admire who started their own lines and it becomes their entire page — and I never want to be that,” Charnas said, declining to name any of her influencer peers. “I don’t blame them, I understand, it makes sense. [But] I don’t ever want my Instagram account to make it seem like I’m forcing people to buy my products. I’m going to keep it as organic as I can.
“Everything I made is a mix of basic and statement pieces. All the Ts I can style with blazers from other designers and shoes of my own, and also style my shoes I designed with Nordstrom with a cool blouse from any contemporary brand. I want to style it like it was anything else,” Charnas continued.
She’s not shy about drawing inspiration from designer pieces in her own wardrobe, including a shearling Chloe jacket she bought last season. In fact, the “whole point” of the project, Charnas pointed out, was to re-create some of her favorite fashion splurges over the years — but with affordable price tags and tweaks that might suit her fan base.
An example: Charnas’ followers “freaked out” over that Chloe jacket, so she designed her own version that was less bulky and with a bell sleeve. The mixed-medium jacket, which has faux white shearling, faux beige leather and gray quilting on the back, retails for $199, less than one-tenth of the original.
A poplin button-up that bells out at the cuffs (a theme throughout the collection), is a riff on a crop top Charnas saw a woman wearing in a street-style photograph on Pinterest taken during fashion week. She has no idea who designed the shirt, but Charnas said her interpretation needed to have a more toned-down cuff with bow details one can tie however they want, and most importantly, be full length. She’s aware of the fashion set’s affinity for crop tops, but knows society at large isn’t comfortable parading around with bare midriffs.
“By making it have a classic silhouette it would be more relatable,” she said of the $79 top that comes in white or blue pinstripes.
In addition to styling Something Navy X Treasure & Bond with her existing wardrobe, Charnas will continue to partner with other brands, including Amazon and First Aid Beauty, where she was reportedly paid a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar fee for a year-long brand ambassadorship.
The Nordstrom partnership is said to be even more lucrative for the blogger. Charnas and Nordstrom declined to comment on figures, but a source close to the retailer said the influencer was paid close to $300,000 up front and will get a percentage of sales, which are projected to hit between $3 million and $5 million for the season. If Charnas gets a 5 percent cut, that could bring her earnings from the single capsule collection to about half a million dollars.
“I wanted to give myself time to see who the girl is that’s following me. We as bloggers get the best data just by seeing what they’re buying from us. I was able to see what they’re all gravitating towards, what they freak out about, what they don’t like. I took that into consideration when creating this line,” Charnas said, adding that sizes in the collection range from XXS to XXL.
“When they asked me if I wanted to do XS to XL, or should we really expand it out to more sizes, I said let’s expand it as much as we possibly can,” she continued, adding that “messages flooded her inbox” when she told her followers this in a post on her Instagram stories last month. She was shocked at how many grateful fans reached out to thank her for offering a wide range of sizes.
Not all of the feedback Charnas gets is of the positive variety, though.
“The negativity is always about my body and my parenting. It’s ridiculous,” she stated. “For a while I was fine with it because I was getting criticized about things I was super secure about. Now I’m breaking into new areas and I’m not 100 percent secure in what I’m doing — it’s my first time being a parent, it’s my first time doing a line. When someone criticizes me about those things it really hurts.”
While this might be a downside of sharing so much of her life with followers — including frequent guest stars on her Instagram stories and posts, 18-month-old daughter Ruby and husband Brandon Charnas — it’s also why she’s built such a loyal fan base.
High levels of engagement, and by extension conversion, are likely a result of the real and conversational approach Charnas takes. For instance, she started to address the “reality,” or lack thereof, on Instagram with a photo series, “Instagram vs. Reality,” where she posts two photos: one that is a perfectly posed social media moment of her and Ruby and the other depicting what “really happened” (chasing Ruby down the street). Other times, she talks candidly about Ruby having tantrums or refusing to nap. She also routinely answers direct message inquiries from followers by copying and pasting the messages to her stories with her response typed above, which can range from questions about Ruby’s pajamas to how she styles her hair.
This is exactly why Charnas was identified as a good fit for Nordstrom, which had its eye on a partnership with her for a “long time,” according to Jennifer Jackson Brown, Nordstrom Product Group president.
Brown called the influencer’s style, personality and engaged followers a “great match” for the give-back Treasure & Bond brand, which donates 2.5 percent of net sales to nonprofit organizations.
“We partner with bloggers and social influencers to reach curated audiences but also to create unique content that lives on both their channels and ours to engage customers. It’s exclusive partnerships like this that allow us to continually bring newness to our customers and give them a sense of discovery in our stores and online,” Brown explained.
She said that Charnas will make two personal appearances to promote the collection this fall at the Michigan Avenue and Roosevelt Field stores in Chicago and New York, respectively. In tandem, Nordstrom will support the collection on its social channels, with site placements and digital advertising.
The partnership has the potential to benefit both parties. Nordstrom can attract new customers from Charnas’ Instagram fan base, a lot of whom are Millennials who might not have otherwise had reason to enter a physical store. The same goes for Charnas, who now has visibility that extends beyond the blogosphere. Nordstrom shoppers who might not know of her can discover the collection in-store, where each item contains a hang tag with information about the influencer, the products and where to find her online.
For now the contract is only for a single season, but Charnas said she would like to continue working with the retailer — as well as eventually branch out and produce a line solo.
“It’s really important to test out the waters with a great retailer like Nordstrom. I’m learning how to do this; they’re teaching me so much. It’s great for me to be behind the scenes,” Charnas said of the process, which entailed two design meetings in Seattle, where Nordstrom is based. “I want to build a brand where I’m not just making clothing, and because I made my Instagram more about my lifestyle and not just fashion, there’s so much I can do with that.”
Her ultimate goal: to create a Something Navy product brand with multiple categories that could span apparel, baby clothing or baby products, shoes, beauty or hair products.