The thought of seeing a product line ending up in landfill spurred Misha Nonoo to launch her on-demand manufacturing process, the womenswear designer has revealed.
Speaking at the Drapers Digital Festival, Nonoo said: “In 2016 I decided to go direct to consumer. I saw how retail was changing, and felt like I need to get ahead of it and control my own business.
”I decided to create product on demand. We already had ground shipping in the US and our clothes took five days to ship. I knew people would comfortably wait that amount of time for an order.
“We sew within two business days and ship to customer within five days of ordering on website.”
Nonoo’s “Easy 8” collection has been designed to create 22 different looks. She said operations and logistics were the “last thing” she would have wanted to get into when starting out in fashion.
However, partnering with a manufacturer that was able to accommodate a range from size 00 to 14 has increased sales: “We see those outlying sizes ordered all the time.”
The designer, whose fans include Meghan Markle, says voicing her concerns about the environmental impact of manufacturing and human rights in manufacturing clothing has widened her customer base: “I have noticed that it brings a new customer to us. People who are aware of waste and damage fashion industry does.
“Any way we can humanise the process of creating the clothes we wear, then all power to that. If you take some big brands, the crocodile luggage that doesn’t get sold isn’t marked down at the end of the season – [instead] they burn it to protect the brand.”
“It has also drawn a different type of employee, who come to us as we are known to do things that are innovative,” she adds. “When you buy a T-shirt for £7, £8 or £9, imagine how much that sewer is getting for that? I’ve heard of sewers being chained to machines and given toilet breaks once in 12 hours.
“There are things that can be done every time a customer asks a question, especially on social media.”
Social media has had a transformative effect on Nonoo’s career. Instead of spending all her marketing budget on a traditional catwalk show at New York Fashion Week that didn’t “set her apart” from other designers, the designer chose to unveil her spring 16 collection on Instagram.
“There was an inherent fear that I was a somewhat known fashion designer in New York but by no means a global brand,” she explained. “[The Instagram campaign] was still expensive but the return on investment was that much greater than a usual runway show.
“We shot it all over the platform and gridded it but it was a really extraordinary thing to have done. It went viral.
“Instagram was the first social media platform that was understandable for consumers. It is where people who look for fashion. But I was aware of the fact that, if we pulled it off, the rewards were high.