May 30, 2015

German Indie Fashion Go-To nelou Lands In Silicon Valley

Co-Founders Regine Harr and Boris Berghammer (photo courtesy of nelou)

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.

More San Francisco independent fashion

Party Seen: SF Fashion + Tech’s French Technique

SF Fashion+Tech gave us a reason to celebrate the fashion capital’s independence. In honor of Bastille Day, designers, entrepreneurs, engineers, and media gurus gathered in SoMa for some mixing and mingling, a Paris-inspired fashion show featuring the eco-friendly apparel of Palo Alto label Amour Vert and displays from Bay Area companies such as ModeWalk and LIFT by Yappo.

Below some images from the festivities. You’ll find more on our Facebook page.

A fashion show by Amour Vert capped off the evening.

From the Amour Vert fashion show

More San Francisco fashion events

Photography by Jennymay Villarete

Party Seen: Refinery29’s One-Year Anniversary

This past Saturday, Refinery29’s hyperlocal site in San Francisco celebrated its first birthday at Hipstamatic‘s lofty space in SoMa. The Haus of Hipstamatic offered a chic atmosphere with a festive photo booth, movie marquee near the DJ’s set-up and a cozy roof overlooking the dark streets and bright lights of the City.

Guests sipped on Kanon Organic Vodka and Lorenza Rosé, noshed on bites fromRice Paper Scissors, and danced to 90′s beats spun by DJ Sonny Phono (Ace of Base and Salt N Pepa, anyone?). Fashion was the common thread among the well-dressed guests. Want a trend report? Many women donned a bold lip, high-heeled summer sandal, and bright colors while gentlemen rocked well-tailored jackets and plaid.

Below, few pictures from the festivities.

You’ll find the complete set on our Facebook page.

Photography by Jennymay Villarete for SF Indie Fashion

Introducing SF’s First Fashion Blogger Runway Show

San Francisco will see it’s very first fashion show featuring fashion bloggers instead of models this weekend during the 3rd annual Beauty Expo, a competitive showcase of Bay Area styling and beauty talent produced by the San Francisco Fashion and Merchants Alliance. Read on for more detes and how to win tickets to this local fashion event.

Hosted by Charleston Pierce, the evening derives its main drama from a style-off featuring competing teams made up of hair and makeup pros culled from Bay Area salons and beauty schools. A judges panel made up of Celebrity Stylist Antonio Venegas, former model Joyce Hu of The Bookr, Stylist Dario Smith of Bellwether Project and Gwendolyn Wright of The Wright Consultants will decide the winners.

The evening will be capped off by a fashion show with bloggers as models, including Jules Vasic of The Green Stylist, Alison Messinger of Eclectic à la Mode and Lona Duncan of Lux Resale – each in apparel by designer Jennifer Ly.

Other reasons to go: A chance to mingle with participating designers and folks from sponsor companies such as Styletag, Fizz Marketing, Punchtab, Shopience, Intern Sushi, Wella,, The Brush Guard, Pigment Cosmetics, Rodan+Fields, Seacret SF, WorkPlayDate, Bachman’s Sparrow and Chloe+Isabel.

Want in? We’ll be giving away tickets later this week, so follow us on Twitter @sfindiefashion or visit our Facebook page. That’s where it will all go down.

More San Francisco fashion events

SF Indie Fashion is a Beauty Expo media sponsor

Fashion + Tech SF: Fashion Startups

Style You's Jon Lam discusses his startup, which aims to offer personalized photo shoots to its subscribers.

This past year has seen an explosion of fashion startups in San Francisco. With the popularity of mobile devices and tablets, the demand for new ways to buy online, conveniently and with as few clicks as possible, has skyrocketed. Along with that, we’re seeing new concepts designed to help women shop more effectively sprouting quickly to fill this emerging niche in the tech market (case in point: the number of recent Stanford graduates now proclaiming, “I have a fashion startup!”)

Still, what do engineers and fashion stylists have in common? That question was part of a recent discussion at Fashion+Tech SF, a series of workshops created by the San Francisco Fashion and Merchants Alliance to link fashion and technology players in the San Francisco Bay Area. As it turns out, plenty.

During short presentations given by a group of 16 presenters that included fashion startups such as Boutine and Style You, as well as fashion labels such as Saga Swimwear, players on both sides of the fashion and technology equation shared their ideas. Among these ideas were new, innovative takes on virtual “how-to” styling guides and personal makeovers complete with fashion shoots and personal stylists.

Attendee checks out some of the proposed merchandise from a online retail start-up.

Presenting Gorilla Workshop, an online design collective that promotes street wear style clothing.

Fashion designer Liz Vranesh listens during the discussion.

After listening to a few presentations, I headed over to talk to Pramod Dabir. What had brought him to the event?

“These events are good for networking and getting exposure,” Dabir told me. He was there to make new connection for, a social commerce website he founded that features new and emerging designers. Their hook is the ability to create and follow personalized online shops that shoppers curate and earn 10 percent commission on sales.

Not everyone in attendance was a startup founder. Stylish fashion illustrator Emiah Gardner told me, “I came because I’m beginning to look for funding [for my illustration blog]. I wanted to get a feel for what is in the market and what other people are doing.”

Others were there to learn more about the San Francisco fashion community.

“I just moved here from Colorado, and I’m trying to get involved with the fashion scene in SF,” explained designer Liz Vranesh.

Intrigued? Check out upcoming Fashion + Tech SF events here.

Photography by Shaun Tiangsing for SFFMA