Naked Wardrobe is helping shake up the definition of what defines fast fashion today.
While retailers such as Zara, H&M and Forever 21 have long-held court as leaders of the segment, digital brand Naked Wardrobe has been quietly operating under the radar since its 2012 start, closing on $1 million in revenue in its first year of business while averaging nearly 40 percent year-over-year growth since then. The company is debt free, has no outside investors and is run by three sisters: president Shideh Kaviani, vice president Shida Kaviani and chief executive officer Shirin Kaviani.
Now the company is looking to make a go at wholesale with retail partnerships in the works for the fourth quarter and plans to expand its facilities in Northridge, Calif., from 25,000 square feet to just under 100,000 square feet.
Like the leaders of other digital brands, the sisters quickly saw the potential in the online world and what scale could mean using e-commerce and social media.
“When we started our company back in 2012, out of our parents’ house, it was before there were many online stores,” said Shideh Kaviani. “Very few people trusted online shopping at that time. They just were skeptical. There were so many what-ifs. We had always, always, always been involved in the Internet. Our dad was an avid believer in the power of the Internet and we were all into fashion.”
So they melded the two with a focus on affordable, quality pieces sold in their online shop. Think, for example, $32 spandex bodysuits and bike shorts, $40 form-fitting maxiskirts and $52 jumpsuits in a range of solid colorways and prints. Within the company’s first month, it sold about $35,000 in merchandise. Since then, the Kardashian and Jenner sisters, Jennifer Lopez, Beyoncé and Lady Gaga have been photographed wearing Naked Wardrobe.
“I did have goals and envisioned celebrities that would eventually one day be wearing our brand,” Shida Kaviani said.
About 90 percent of Naked Wardrobe is made domestically. It used to be 100 percent, but that changed as the company introduced more intricate pieces, such as outerwear, suiting and beaded garments. They recently introduced maternity and in September are set to launch a statement collection that includes suiting, dresses, streetwear, outerwear and mix-and-match pieces. Plans call for men’s about a year from now.
Earlier this month the sisters opened Naked Wardrobe’s first pop-up store on Melrose Avenue. The six-week operating time frame was later extended, with the store set to be open until Aug. 20. The demand and interest generated gave the Kavianis confidence that retail would be their next play, with New York set to get the next pop-up as early as November.
If the New York store does well, it could convert to a permanent spot given the market is Naked Wardrobe’s largest.
A few years ago, the company tested wholesale with the Kardashian sisters’ Dash stores.
“They were great, loyal clients of ours and we decided to do that with them,” Shideh Kaviani said, adding the line was one of Dash’s top sellers. “Since then we haven’t done any other wholesale; we’ve just been building our online business.”
That focus began to shift more recently as the sisters began entertaining the idea of retail and are now set to launch Naked Wardrobe at multiple retailers in the fourth quarter, with a few doors containing concessions.
They declined to say which retailers, but described them as some of the major names in the U.S.
Shideh Kaviani recalled always wanting to be in higher end retailers, such as a Saks Fifth Avenue or Barneys New York, for the juxtaposition Naked Wardrobe’s affordable price points could be to higher end, pricier items in those types of stores. She said she always hesitated at the idea of any retailer being interested in putting a value-priced offering on their floors.
“These major retailers are trying to pull in a younger demographic and the Gen Z and Gen Y demographic,” Shideh Kaviani said. “We’ll drive a younger demographic or a more social media audience.”
The company currently boasts an Instagram following of 1.3 million.
Naked Wardrobe, while still touting affordability, has begun dabbling in slightly higher price points for its customer base and the results have been enough to suggest its followers will tolerate the increases. The company launched denim in April, which retailed from $80 to $102 — higher prices in comparison to other pieces they carry. However, the most expensive pair was what ended up selling out first.
The ultimate goal, the three say, is to catapult Naked Wardrobe into a full-on lifestyle brand. To do that, they recognize they’ll need to keep up in this hyper-charged world where consumers are fickle with their trends and relevance is as fleeting as a Snap.
“Everything is so fast. I always joke fast fashion is not fast fashion. It’s fast, fast, fast fashion with social media,” Shideh Kaviani said. “I think the biggest challenge for us is constantly keeping up. The great thing is we like to think of ourselves as trendsetters and industry leaders. We strive to continue to really set the tone, set the trends and move on just as quickly as possible to the next thing.”