When the Berlin-based independent fashion startup nelou began in 2011, there were few places people could go to find the latest in indie fashion from all across the globe. So with the innovative company’s recent move to the Silicon Valley, you can bet that our indie fashion radar detectors were going off.
With nelou’s unique concept of creating a single platform from which independent designers from all corners of the world can showcase and sell their designs directly to the customer, not to mention the company’s emphasis on sustainability and concern for global consumption habits, we see many reasons to tip our hats to them.
We spoke with co-founder Regine Harr for some insight into what we can look forward to with their presence here in the United States.
How did nelou get its start? What led you into the realm of online, independent fashion?
All girls can recall situations where we were wearing the same or similar dress as someone else during an event. We also see people on the street and think to ourselves, I have the same jumper or jacket. This is when I thought that there needed to be a solution to the problem. Where are all the independent designers, those who produce in small quantities and have great inspiring designs. This got us started, and 18 months later we have close to 500 designers from 30 countries.
What kind of designs can shoppers find on nelou?
On nelou you can find designers from around the world. You can shop for anything from clothes and accessories, to scarves, handbags, and jewelry. The idea is really that everyone can find their favorite items on nelou. We not only have women’s clothes, but we also cater to men and children. Besides all areas of fashion, we also cover the world. You can find designers from Germany, Spain, Israel, South Africa, USA, UK, Australia, and 25 other countries on nelou.
What sets you apart from other online marketplaces that specialize in independent apparel and accessories?
In the United States, most websites focus on American designers. We really bring the world of fashion onto a single platform. Especially interesting to the U.S. market is our European angle. If you are looking to find items from overseas you can now find them on nelou.
How does shopping from independent designers tie in with the ideas of sustainability and taking responsibility for our consumption habits?
By supporting independent designers, you support local production. Through nelou you can strengthen small business which is so important to any society. Furthermore, the customer pays a fair price which helps to stop the cycle of throwing things away after one season. We can see that people who buy on nelou are much more attached to their products. This is because they know there is a real person behind the label who has shipped it to them, and who put a lot of love and care into the product.
What is the process like for designers hoping to join your fashion community?
That is easy. All they need to do is apply to our website. We then make sure that the photos and products match the quality standard on our website. The designer can then upload all their products and set up shop on nelou. That is it, all free and easy. We only charge a commission when an item is sold.
Any tips for designers who join your fashion community? How can they be successful on nelou?
The designers who are most successful are those who link back from their website to nelou and who understand social media. Using tools like Facebook and Pinterest are important.
Your website provides such a great platform for independent designers from all over the world, what kind of impact would you like nelou to have on the fashion industry?
Our ultimate goal would be to really get people to understand that supporting local production and paying fair prices is important. We cannot maintain our attitude of disposing things we no longer like just because they were so cheap. I remember back in the days how my mum would fix socks when they had holes. It is important that we value other people’s work and our money and lives much more than we do right now. The way we consume fashion will and has to clearly change.
What’s next for nelou? Any exciting future projects or news you can tell us about?
We will be part of the Passport to Rio Fashion Show in the Clift Hotel on the 28th of July, which we are really excited about! We are also in talks with some other major fashion shows, so let’s keep our fingers crossed that those fall into place as well.