U.K. fast-fashion scion Umar Kamani has tapped rising model and celebrity sibling Sofia Richie as their first PrettyLittleThing campaign face.
The e-tailer, which launched in May 2012 with accessories, expanded into apparel the following year and this year entered the Australia and U.S. markets. PrettyLittleThing’s Los Angeles launch party in July was hosted by Kylie Jenner, whose orange dress became an instant bestseller.
Now Jenner’s BFF, 18-year-old Richie, is fronting the brand’s first ad campaign, shot in Hollywood last week and debuting this week to showcase the holiday 2016 collection.
Richie met Kamani, chief executive and founder of PrettyLittleThing, at a Fourth of July party at Nobu Malibu. “I had ended up hanging out with them one night and they were like, ‘We want to work with you’ and I was like, ‘I want to work with you because you guys are so much fun,’” said Richie as she sat in the glam chair at the Hollywood Downtowner Inn, “base camp” for the shoot, part of which took place at legendary bar The Frolic Room on Hollywood Boulevard.
While he may have spotted Richie while on holiday, Kamani is always focused on growing his brand. “We are not a brand that just wants to sign anyone up. If they’ve got a following, we want to carefully select the right people who completely embrace what we are as a brand and I think in Kylie, that was what we got. In Sofia Richie, that’s exactly what we get and we are making sure we stay true to what we are,” he said.
Kamani describes PrettyLittleThing, which sells dresses and party clothes ranging from $8 to $50, as “very much celebrity- and catwalk-inspired. These girls reflect our brand perfectly. Girls aspire to be like them, dress like them, live the life they live, and that’s why these girls are so influential, especially to our market as we are trying to be inspirations and aspirations to our customer too.”
Although he declined to release sales, Kamani said after PrettyLittleThing’s U.S. launch “our sales literally shot up overnight. The growth in the first three or four months tells me that this could quite easily become our biggest market. There’s obviously a bigger pool here of people and that’s superexciting.”
He knows a thing or two about fashion; his father Mahmud is a seasoned entrepreneur whose 10-year-old online apparel brand Boohoo experienced year-over-year profit increases of 130 percent, with annual revenues of nearly $200 million. The company was valued at 600 million pounds when it debuted on the stock market two years ago.
While the fast-fashion market may be experiencing fatigue, the younger Kamani aims to stay a step forward by aligning with up-and-coming celebrities and being ahead of market trends.
“We pride ourselves on being superfast fashion. Everyone claims to be fast fashion but we try and be ahead of everyone and that’s why we can be so quick on the trends. Keeping the price point affordable to everyone means that we are accessible to everyone. A girl with very little money in her pocket on the weekend can buy from us and a girl with lots of money on the weekend can buy from us, so we don’t narrow it down and cut off anyone,” he said.
PrettyLittleThing is also launching a premium range later this month. “It will push our bracket up a little bit. We want to cater and scale to both ends of the market and cover everyone,” he said.
For her part, Richie is all-inclusive as well. She’s modeled for both Madonna’s Material Girl line and Dolce & Gabbana, and has famously appeared in a Justin Bieber video.
“I’m a very casual person and I think the [PLT] clothes are very cool and casual so I can relate. It’s not really me to do a ballgown. I’m kind of a tomboy. But I have my girly moments and I love to put on a dress for a night event,” she said.
Richie also has dreams of being a designer like her mother Diana Alexander and older half-sister Nicole.
“I was always around fashion and I have a different style sense from my mom and my sister, so I was kind of always brainstorming on what I want to see and I watched how they did it, so it’s always been an interest of mine,” she said.
As for modeling, she says, “I kind of fell into it. But I love it because I get to be with so many designers and see how they think, so it’s kind of like a perfect world for me at this age because I am not going to be a designer right now — it’s definitely something in process for the rest of the years. It’s just interesting to sit in the corner and take notes and stuff.”
Like Kamani, Richie is also taking a page from her enterprising elders. “As a designer, my mom did everything down to the sleeves, the collars, the material, the buttons. She made sure everything was what she wanted and she was like, ‘If you are going to design something, it should be your design,’ so I’m sticking to that. Nicole is really hands-on so I’ve taken that, to be very involved in my own business. My family is giving me great direction so I’m lucky to have them and their experience,” she said. Her dad Lionel Richie even has his own tabletop line, which he will fete next week at Geary’s in Beverly Hills.
While Kamani said he was “purely a spectator” at the Hollywood shoot, he allowed, “I don’t get to go on all the shoots so it’s nice to be here for this one because it’s quite a big one. Hopefully it’s a turning point in the U.S.”
As for what his next move will be, he demurred, “On a Monday we can being doing something and on a Wednesday it can change. We move with what’s going on without five-year plans. We are living in the moment, we are living in the fast lane.”