The San Francisco-based company, founded in January 2015 by Nasty Gal alum Lisa Bühler, now looks to combat the fast-fashion environment with sustainable designs priced with direct-to-consumer margins.
Pieces riff on minimalistic, louche trends. The cotton-linen blend Capri ensemble features a loose top with delicate ties down its front ($70), intended to be paired with a matching, ankle-length wrap skirt ($80) — both in light Limoncello. A rose-colored, ribbed jersey camisole ($72), is dressed up with asymmetric bows and Lurex threads.
Bühler says the Capri ensemble experienced nearly 50 percent sell-through in its first week and is now mostly sold out. Dresses and wrap tops are due out soon, with shoes slated to launch for fall. Handbags are being mulled for the spring season.
Bühler looks to keep the entire line priced at less than $250 — “we are trying to price it as close to fast fashion as possible, but offering something sustainable that has a vintage feel to it,” she said. “Doing product development in-house allows us to have that local, small-brand feel, but offer the best possible price for the consumer and I think the more options like this popping up outside fast-fashion, the better.”
All of the designs are conceptualized in-house, using dead stock fabric. “We will find a roll of fabric and say, ‘OK, we can get 80 units out of this or 30 or 50.’ We work with a local factory that is really flexible with minimums. So we start with fabric and develop around that.”
The Lisa Says Gah in-house label is to be released with a slow-drip methodology, trickling a few styles onto the site at a time. “We are doing it piece-by-piece, working with a local factory instead of launching a full collection. People in general are moving away from that. It makes sense for us to focus on a couple of pieces at a time, that people are excited about right now for the true season. We are making limited runs developed to sell out within a few weeks,” said Bühler.
Production has been assigned to a Soma-neighborhood factory owned and operated by women. Lisa Says Gah has also retained a female patternmaker in nearby Oakland. Shoes are being developed for fall with a factory located in Los Angeles.
Bühler admitted that she could see the Lisa Says Gah label become, “the bigger part of the business,” but has no plans to stop stocking third-party merchandise and vintage goods on the site.
The Lisa Says Gah web site has cultivated a loyal following of its defined aesthetic, roster of independent labels and independent voices. In addition to selling cult items like LOQ shoes, NU Swim bikinis and Trademark bucket bags, the web site has promoted its vision through a curated Instagram presence and a creative, career-woman-focused blog. It uses a small, rotating group of friends and employees as models — creating a community-type feel.
This voice has helped the company experience exponential growth over the last year. Its Instagram following has grown from 39,000 last June to a community of 104,000. May sales were up 105 percent over last year, with the number of units sold increasing 198 percent, orders rising 160 percent and total gross sales rising 97 percent.
Lisa Says Gah has two full-time employees in addition to Bühler. The firm is looking to move its warehouse and office facilities this fall, and plans to expand its team once settled.
Bühler has been on the lookout for a female venture capitalist to aide and advise with future growth.