In 2005, when e-commerce and upcycling were still in its infancy in the mainstream fashion industry, entrepreneur Sophia Amoruso shook up the landscape when she launched her cult brand Nasty Gal on eBay from her apartment in San Francisco. Back then, the brand was a pioneer in combining online retail with vintage fashion. Fast forward to more than 15 years and Nasty Gal is now owned by the Boohoo Group and the brand is continuing to make steps towards reducing their impact on the planet. W
. We chat with Nasty Gal’s commercial director, Kelly Byrne, about the brand’s first capsule collection under its sustainability initiative, All Things Considered, which was created with renowned stylist and model Jen Ceballos of Endlessly Love Club. Inside Retail: Nasty Gal was all about vintage way before ‘resale’ was a big trend. How have its customers evolved in recent years, given the recent interest in pre-loved and resale? Kelly Byrne: Vintage has always been at our core, and we feel our customers have evolved with us over the years. They want on-trend pieces with character, which is where vintage comes in, but they also love that they can come to us for great brand collaborations and on trend pieces. IR: Can you tell me about the background behind Nasty Gal’s vintage clothing range? Where does it come from and how does it get re-worked? KB: Our vintage pieces are sourced across the globe, our design team will add a Nasty Gal touch to each style and then they’re placed online in our vintage category. This section of the business is a consumer favourite with most pieces selling out within days of being online. IR: Tell me about Nasty Gal’s new sustainability range, All Things Considered, and the thinking behind it. KB: Our customers are at the heart of everything that we do. We are fortunate to have ongoing conversations with millions of them and they are always happy to share their thoughts with us. They tell us that they want us to make it easier for them to make more sustainable choices. They want to be able to buy the fashion that they love, at prices that they can afford, confident in the knowledge that they are making an informed choice. So our work in this area is driven by their expectations and our own ambition to sell exceptional clothes that have less of an impact on the environment. We are also committed to being honest and frank about our progress, so that we can be held accountable and to provide clear and evidence based information to our customers. IR: There has been a lot of criticism of fast fashion brands lately in terms of their lack of sustainability credentials. What are your thoughts on the evolution of the fast fashion industry? KB: We understand that action needs to be taken here which is why we have taken a stance and made a commitment to do better. In our latest customer research, where we received over 14,000 responses, our customers tell us that environmental claims can be confusing and so we’re committed to giving clear and honest information to help them make informed choices that are right for them – from how our clothes are made to what they are made from and how to take care of them so that they can be cherished longer. IR: Nasty Gal has collaborated with some great influencers in the past, from Tayce to Flex Mami and Jen Caballos. How involved do influencers get with the development of ranges and what is that process like with them? KB: We are so proud to have collaborated with so many inspiring influencers in Australia and internationally. We work really closely with each talent, our design and buying teams will have an in-depth chat to understand their style and from that will suggest pieces for the collection. The talent will edit these suggestions down to their top pieces and that is how the collaborative ‘edits’ are formed. IR: Nasty Gal launched 14 years ago and e-commerce has changed a lot since then. How has the business kept its values close to its heart while continuing to evolve? KB: For Nasty Gal we began our journey in a tiny San Francisco apartment selling vintage on eBay, back in 2006. Fifteen years later, our vintage collection is still at the heart of what we do. Longevity and upcycling have always been a part of our conversation and we’ll continue with these aims and we want to use our size and scale to accelerate and broaden our work. IR: What are some of Nasty Gal’s other plans for the coming 12-18 months? KB: The Boohoo Group recently launched a brand new sustainability strategy, in which we have set ourselves a series of challenging targets, which we have published so we can be held account for our progress. This includes an ambitious target to ensure that all of the polyester and cotton that we use is either recycled or more sustainably sourced by 2025. Solutions to these complex challenges require collaboration which is why we are delighted with the response from our existing and new suppliers to help us identify innovative solutions to achieve this target. We are also an active member of the sustainable apparel coalition and a proud signatory of Textiles 2030.