The space, with big windows that look out onto a walkway lined with plants at the hip Platform L.A. shopping location, is also filled with six-foot-tall plants that blend in with the outdoors.
In some ways, this is a déjà vu moment. Three years ago, the British label Never Fully Dressed had a pop-up shop in Los Angeles with the idea of later establishing a permanent boutique in the city. But the COVID-19 pandemic put that on hold.
Now Aylen is again opening a pop-up store in Los Angeles and visiting with real estate brokers who are pointing out some of the city’s better shopping streets.
“We are just picking up where we left off,” said Aylen, who, with a small team, was getting the pop-up ready for a 12-day run.
Never Fully Dressed, or NFD, was founded in 2009 when Aylen took over her parents’ attic in East London and launched a clothing company whose creations are heavy on colorful prints designed by Aylen and her team. In the beginning, she was selling her clothes in in the markets of Portobello and Spitalfields, known for their artistic and creative merchandise. Five years later, she opened a store in Essex.
“We were working in my mom’s attic, and she was like, you’re devaluing my house. I mean, we were taking stock up and down the stairs, and the carpets were becoming threadbare,” Aylen recalled, noting her parents were also market traders.
So, she opened a little store that doubled as an office. That store was closed off and on for several months during the COVID-19 pandemic, but Aylen and her staff pivoted by selling more merchandise online and setting up a table in front of the store where people could pick up orders.
Now that the business world is returning to normal, Never Fully Dressed is in expansion mode. It recently hired a new head of e-commerce who is analyzing sales trends and helping to hone the company’s direction.
The analysis shows that dresses, which retail for around $90 to $130 on average, make up 70 percent of purchases.
Most of the company’s sales come from the United Kingdom, followed by the United States, which makes up 20 percent of revenue. That is one of the reasons for the Los Angeles pop-up — another pop-up is slated to open in New York City’s SoHo from Oct. 13 to Oct. 22.
Australia is the third most popular country for sales, followed by Ireland and Dubai.
Never Fully Dressed is well known for its wrap dresses and versatile clothing that can be worn different ways. “We show customers how to layer our dresses with jeans or how to wear them with a duster jacket,” Aylen said. There are mini-, midi- and maxi-dresses for more coverage, which have been popular in the Middle East. Wraparound skirts are also very popular.
Until recently, the Never Fully Dressed collection consisted mostly of spring/summer looks that were changed once a month. “We tend to have a theme of the month, whether it’s Western wear, ’60s Miami, or whatever,” Aylen said. “And we are heavy on prints that we design.”
Lately, the company has branched out to knitwear for sweaters and is introducing children’s wear, footwear, swimwear, underwear and reversible outerwear.
The label promotes sustainability in many ways. It makes sure its factories in the United Kingdom, China, Romania, Turkey and India are sustainable. And many of its products are made of recycled polyester or eco viscose.
A few years ago, the company launched its pre-loved initiative to buy back some of its previously sold merchandise and resell it. The concept began when Aylen was seen wearing an old NFD banana-wrap dress on Instagram. People were asking about it, but it was no longer in stock. She realized there was a market for pre-owned NFD merchandise.
Now sustainability is part of the message the company is taking around the world, with more pop-ups planned. In October, there is a pop-up set for Singapore followed by another in Sydney, Australia, in November. Down the road, there might be one in Texas. “It’s just fun to be out on the road,” Aylen said. “The most valuable thing you can do is just speak to your customer.”