Fashion Nova is a MASSIVE hit in the world of fashion:
- Generated more than $400 million within just 18 months after launching their website.
- A tailor-made Instagram brand with over 20M total followers on three different accounts. The value of Fashion Nova’s social media exposure is more than that of H&M and Zara combined.
- Partners with more than 3,000 high-profile celebrities and top Instagram influencers like Kylie Jenner, Cardi B, Khloé Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, and Amber Rose.
Sure, you’re surprised by these numbers, but are you really all that shocked?
If the answer is no, this will shake you to your core…
Last year, Google released its 2018 Year in Search report, which showed that Fashion Nova is the most Googled fashion brand of 2018.
While your go-to budget fashion fave stands at the top of the list, timeless classic giants like Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Givenchy followed in second, third, and fourth place for search. Brands like Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, Moschino ranked in the remaining top 10 spots.
That explains why Fashion Nova gets a huge number of website traffic: 15M monthly visits per month — much higher than these luxe names I mentioned above.
Best of all…
Fashion Nova achieves the top spot by not doing any traditional marketing like others.
It means that “There was no runway show, no interviews, no press releases, no placements in magazines, and nothing with traditional marketing campaigns or SEO tactics.” — said Richard Saghian, Founder & CEO of the fashion blockbuster.
To figure out EXACTLY how Fashion Nova has grown so fast that they beat out fashion’s biggest luxe names, I completely decoded their business & marketing strategy in this blog post.
It’s the most strategic and detailed analytics you’ve ever found about Fashion Nova on the Internet.
Now, sit tight, sip your coffee nice and slow because you’re going to learn the best strategies from the most Googled fashion brand in the world.
Table of Content
- Who (or What) is Fashion Nova?
- [Tip #1] The “One Thing” Strategy: The strategy behind all strategies at Fashion Nova.
- [Tip #2] Influencer Marketing Pyramid: How influencers bring Fashion Nova’s viral growth.
- [Tip #3] Over-priced fashion is dead. It’s time for ultra-fast fashion.
Who (or What) is Fashion Nova?
I believe I don’t have to say much about this.
Because Fashion Nova is the viral clothing brand and a social media phenomenon that you can’t stop hearing about in the past few years — and for good reason.
Fashion Nova has been based in Los Angeles, CA since 2006. With only 5 physical stores scattered across Southern California, its globally insane popularity is the result of its work with high-profile influencers and its speed at delivering trend-led pieces.
Currently, the brand has over 20 million Instagram followers and an exponentially growing rate of 600% year over year.
The brand makes bona fide apparel, accessories and beauty business that’s attracted women with body measurements that don’t always fit within standard sizing.
Its target audience is women with shapes like Belcalis Almanzar, also known as Cardi B, or Blac Chyna — who have bulbous hips, round butts and spindle-like waists.
Fashion Nova’s clothing is revealing, tight, barely-there streetwear and club attire — but the company is not.
Richard Saghian — the millionaire Founder behind the fashion empire — largely avoids the spotlight as much as he can. He rarely does interviews. It’s partly because being interviewed makes him uncomfortable.
He even dismisses the idea of a portrait photograph for the very small number of interviews he accepted to join.
Till now, there are only two memorable things about him we’ve found on the Internet:
- Remember the breathtaking Hollywood Hills mansion of Swedish deceased DJ Tim Berge, also known as Avicii? Saghian is the one who bought it last year — for a huge sum of money — $17,500,000, to be exact.
- The other memorable thing…Saghian once boasted that: “Fashion Nova is the fastest-growing women’s apparel company in the world.”
And I think he has a point about that.
[Tip #1] The “One Thing” Strategy: The strategy behind all strategies at Fashion Nova
Let’s define the strategy first.
“One Thing” strategy: You can achieve anything if you focus on ONE thing at a time.
At some point in life, you & I, can all relate to a situation that our desires are constantly changing. We pursue new things before we achieve old goals.
“We’re dealing with an invisible force that is always trying to confuse us. Instead of focusing on one thing at a time, we set multiple goals, and think we can multitask ourselves to achieving them.” – Darius Foroux.
The important part here is: It matters less with the number of goals you set and matters more with the way you choose to execute those goals. Yes, you can achieve a lot of things… But just NOT at the same time.
Source: Darius Foroux
It’s a time-tested strategy that’s been shared by many successful people. And this time it’s proven by the Founder of Fashion Nova once again.
Richard Saghian applies the “One Thing” strategy to every area of his business. From the distribution channel, marketing strategy, to business’s goal and mission, etc.
1. Focus on one distribution channel
Saghian claims Fashion Nova’s physical stores have become tourist destinations in California. But he has no desire to open up a big flashy flagship store on Melrose or anywhere else for that matter.
At the Burbank Town Center Mall, the Fashion Nova store, which is about 3,000 square feet, isn’t picturesque or fancily decorated — think a lower-budget Rainbow or H&M for instance. But that doesn’t seem to matter with Saghian at all.
“I had a goal of opening 100 stores across the U.S. when I first started the business, but the effort it takes to launch a store is far harder than it is to increase revenue online,” said Saghian.
He added, “Why open up more stores when I can literally open up to more countries — with less effort?”
So instead of building out flashy brick-and-mortar stores, he and his team dedicated their energy to build the brand’s social media presence — especially on Instagram.
By updating their feed every 30 minutes and executing influencer marketing fluently, Fashion Nova becomes the Instagram blockbuster that every eCommerce brand dreams of.
Richard Saghian realized the power of Instagram very early on.
Celebrities like Kehlani, Kylie Jenner and Cardi B have changed the way customers react with advertisements and sponsored posts with an authentic feeling.
Their detailed strategy about how they use Instagram and influencer marketing to get the most traction will be revealed in the next part of this story. And it’s gonna be good.
2. Focus on one goal at a time
Folks said: “Profits are the only business of business.”
But Saghian said differently.
“A lot of my competitors have teams that work on a budget all day and are obsessed with profit margins,” said Saghian. “I don’t want to focus on that right now. I believe that as long as we focus on giving the best product at the best price and getting it to our customers fast, we will continue to grow.”
He shared that the only focus of the company right now is “getting as many people onto the platform as possible.” No matter the cost.
Keep reading, I’ll explain why he called his business a ‘platform’ in the latter part of this blog post. It’s one of his secret sauces to run a wildly successful clothing brand.
3. Key takeaway
You can have multiple goals, multiple strategies, but just choose ONE THING to focus at a time.
You can’t build an online store, promote it via social media, magazines, emails, billboards or trade shows, etc. at the same time — especially when you’re just starting out and having a low budget. But you can test all those things in a business lifetime. As long as you don’t take it too slow.
The key is: If you saw something works for your business, stay true to it. Keep doing it and develop it as much as you can.
Just like how Poo~Pourri applies the hilarious and magical theme for their before-to-go-toilet sprays since 2013. Or how Levi’s takes the sustainability factor into every campaign they run and make it the official core value for their brand in… a century — as I’ve mentioned in our previous growth stories.
Remember: Don’t be afraid to set goals and aim for great things. Just achieve one thing after another.
[Tip #2] Influencer Marketing Pyramid: How influencers bring Fashion Nova’s viral growth
In 2018, Fashion Nova was Instagram’s top-performing brand in influencer marketing based on Earned-Media Value (EMV), according to InfluencerDB.
On the EMV chart, the brand stands first at $125.2 million, brands such as Zara and H&M come afterward at 59.5m and 39.1m.
Celebrity and mega influencer endorsements are one key factor to their success, and the brand is well-known for its close collaboration with high-profile celebs like Kylie Jenner, Cardi B, and Amber Rose.
Besides that, they’re also joining hands with thousands of micro-influencers and NovaBabes (it’s what Fashion Nova called their fans) to complete their marketing strategy.
1. Close partnerships with mega influencers
Fashion Nova has built an entire empire around a vast network of influencers. Very few brands are able to do the same.
It’s a difficult thing to coordinate and execute well. Because getting handfuls of social influencers to all work toward the same goal, with the same general branding style, is no easy feat.
Fashion Nova’s partnering with a network of 3000–5000 social media influencers who have a large following on Instagram.
These influencers create content on social media that looks no different than the content they would otherwise post on a daily basis.
The only exception is they are wearing a piece of Nova’s clothes, and sometimes — in the caption – they are providing their own unique discount code (which Fashion Nova can use to track conversions).
Fashion Nova as seen on Kylie Jenner
Cardi B mixed a $40 pair of jeans from Fashion Nova with her Versace blouse
And if you partner with a mega influencer whose family is also full of celebs like Kylie Jenner, the social media exposure is sometimes doubled without…no extra work:
Kylie’s brother, Rob, loves poking fun at his sister
That’s the extra sales driven to Fashion Nova in a few days after a single promotion photo was posted on Kylie’s Instagram. Saghian told The Cut in 2017: “A post from Kylie’s page is better than any Super Bowl ad.”
Let’s imagine…with 3,000 influencers — including Cardi B, Blac Chyna, Kourtney Kardashian, and Nicki Minaj — create roughly 6,000 pieces of content about the brand each month, it’s not surprising that Fashion Nova become a social media phenomenon and the #1 popular brand on Instagram.
Quick question: Can you spot a pattern among those photos taken by Fashion Nova’s influencers?
Those celebrities are not featured in professional photoshoots, rather they are paid to take unprofessional photos or even mirror selfies — with their own smartphone or camera — to create an authentic sense of style.
This technique works to make the advertisement appear natural and genuine, even when the celebrity has been paid a great sum of money for their post.
When Fashion Nova reposts a celebrities’ advertisement photo on their own page, the number of likes is boosted up to around 80K on a single post.
Fashion Nova as seen on Valérie Cossette
And you know what…celebrities like Cardi B were paid $20,000 per month to wear Fashion Nova and promote it to her 46 million-and-counting-followers.
But wait…You’re thinking: “I don’t have thousands of dollars to work with A-list influencers like that!”
Good news: You don’t have to spend a huge sum of money on influencer marketing. In fact, a relevant influencer marketing strategy is to consider the influencer industry as…a pyramid. Just like how Fashion Nova does.
2. A breakdown of Fashion Nova’s use of influencer marketing
They use a model called Influencer Marketing Pyramid.
Much like Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, the Influencer Marketing Pyramid is a motivational theory in marketing comprising a four-tier model of influencer marketing, often described as hierarchical levels within a pyramid.
The Pyramid divides consumers into four different levels. From top to bottom, the passion and interest for a topic decrease, while the size of the audience increases.
This model helps define a methodology and an architecture to target your content and media efforts.
To better illustrate the model, I break down Fashion Nova’s influencer marketing strategy into a pyramid like this:
Fashion Nova’s 4 levels of influence:
- The lowest level — I KNOW IT: This is the largest group of the pyramid. This level assembles all Fashion Nova’s followers and consumers who buy fashion for the sake of needing to get dressed, but without any actual interest in the fashion pieces they buy. They do hardly follow Fashion Nova’s trends and their style revolves more around “I need to buy something” than “I want to buy this piece”.
- Level 2 — I LIKE IT: This group consists of thousands of #NovaBabe — who’re superfans of the brand. NovaBabes are consciously aware of their interest with the brand, spend time-consuming it and might even see it as their hobby. They’re actively posting pictures about them wearing Nova’s items on social media for a chance to get featured on the page.
Before we jump to the two highest levels of the pyramid, let me explain this point further. Because it’s really worth noticing.
Instagram opens a new era of young men and women — the generation who needs to be seen, heard and validated — go to show off their best sides to the world.
And Fashion Nova’s success lies in that.
It lies in the brand’s willingness to give their fans — the opportunity to share posts, get attention & validation from millions of people around the world.
They encourage their followers to take provocative mirror selfies to showcase the clothing, which is not a technique used by many fashion brands such as Zara and H&M.
In this way, Fashion Nova has gained its own group of highly loyal brand ambassadors and advertisers literally…for free.
Photos of #NovaBabe
- Level 3 — I LOVE IT: Assembles those influencers who depict fashion as their favorite hobby and their biggest passion. These influencers wear Fashion Nova to isolate themselves from others and have extensive taste and expertise in the topic. They spend a specific amount of time & effort to promote Fashion Nova. They can be both macro-influencers who have paid and micro-influencers — who get free items from Fashion Nova on a weekly/ monthly basis — to do this.
- Level 4 — I LIVE IT: On the highest level, Fashion Nova finds the absolute experts in a topic, who live and breathe Nova’s style and best illustrate their visual. And you may guess, Fashion Nova joins hands with the American Rapper Cardi B even before she becomes a signed artist. Today Cardi B is considered as one of the driving forces for Fashion Nova’s paid as well as organic mentions. It is estimated that each of her posts delivers around $128,198 Earned Media Value for the brand.
“We were doing well before Cardi, but she definitely gave us some legitimacy,” said Saghian, Fashion Nova’s Founder & CEO. “She is one of our favorite partners because when she talks about Fashion Nova, she speaks from the heart.”
Cardi B makes a signature statement with Fashion Nova. She constantly states that she chooses the low-budget Fashion Nova over designer brands because it fits so well with her body measurements.
It turned out that this budget lifestyle sat well with her audience and Fashion Nova even transformed into a marketing campaign with Cardi B’s famous quote:
“I could buy a designer but that #FashionNova fit.”
See the full video here
The quote appears in the lyrics of Cardi’s new song at that time — She Bad.
And right after that, Kylie posted a picture of her wearing a Fashion Nova’s black jumper on Instagram — with Cardi B’s lyrics in a caption:
3. Key takeaway
It is not necessary that the influencers with the largest follower base will be most effective for a brand’s promotion.
Sometimes micro-influencers can give brands a better promotional boost, as compared to the big names.
Multiple numbers of strategically placed micro-influencers can provide a decent amount of organic brand and media value, upon consolidation.
You may not know: “Marketers have noticed that once an account is over a certain size, however, fewer people bother to engage questioning the value of a multimillion army of fans.
The ratio of likes and comments to followers peaks when an account reaches around 1,000 followers.” – Sidney Pierucci
Get more than 100,000 followers, then engagement starts to flatten out. The audience just isn’t keen to interact with a big celebrity compared to interact with someone they can relate to more closely.
Remember: Start small, then scale.
[Tip #3] Over-priced fashion is dead. It’s time for ultra-fast fashion.
Saghian once said: “Over-priced fashion is dead.”
And he has a point when saying that.
Fashion Nova proved it right when it beats out all luxe names like Versace, Gucci, Dior, D&G and Louis Vuitton to become the most Googled fashion brand in the world.
Mostly because retail is dying, killed off by eCommerce and a post-recession preference for experiences over things.
Young men and women are now both into fast or even ultra-fast fashion like Fashion Nova. Why? They’re super easy to get. And how easy it is? To explain this, let’s talk about Fashion Nova’s business model first.
The Platform Business Model
There are two popular models in the business world today: Pipeline and Platform.
Pipeline is the one that dominant since most fashion brands are using that model to run their business.
They create stuff, push them out and sell them to customers. The core value is produced by the product itself and it represents for the whole company.
For example, we see pipes everywhere. TV, Radios, and Blogs are pipes spewing out content at us. Our education system is a pipe where teachers push out their knowledge to children.
Unlike pipes, Platforms do not just create and push stuff out.
“They allow users to create and consume value themselves. It has resulted in a complex relationship in which producers, consumers, and the platform itself enter into a variable set of relationships.” (Parker, Van Alstyne and Choudary, 2016 p.6).
Competition is no longer only over who makes a better product, but increasingly over who builds a better platform.
Saghian is using Platform to run Fashion Nova.
Much like Facebook, Uber, Alibaba — the goal of Fashion Nova is to create communities and markets with network effects that allow consumers to interact and transact.
Consider the situation at Fashion Nova: Network effects occur when Fashion Nova becomes more valuable as more people buy & use it.
Simply put, if you are wearing Fashion Nova and no one else of your friends or family is, Fashion Nova has very little value. As more of your friends and family buy & wear Nova’s items, the more valuable the brand becomes to yourself.
And to create network effects like that, you’ll need as many people to sign up or go into the platform as possible. The more, the merrier.
Saghian executes this strategy by making the clothes super easy to get with two important advantages:
1. On top of them, being so cheap that everyone can buy
Fashion Nova items are surprisingly affordable — compared to a piece of designer clothes.
A pair of jeans costs around $40 on Fashion Nova’s site. Shoes are priced between $30 and $55. Dresses can be found for as low as $28, and no more than $50. Plus, there’s always a sale or discount code to take advantage of.
This rock bottom prices that come along with its speedy fulfillment firmly situate Fashion Nova amongst the likes of other fast-fashion giants, such as Forever 21, H&M, Mango, and Zara.
2. Deliver trends faster than fast-fashion brands
Saghian likes to say he’s turned fast fashion into ultra-fast fashion with Fashion Nova.
Note: “Fast fashion can be defined as cheap, trendy clothing, that samples ideas from the catwalk or celebrity culture and turns them into garments in high street stores at breakneck speed.” — Good On You.
Over 600 new items are released each week on its website.
“It’s important to have a lot of styles because our customers post so much online and need new clothes. We don’t want girls showing up to the club in the same outfit. We need 50 different denim jackets. Not just one.” Saghian told WWD.
Fashion Nova’s ability to speed up the supply chain because of its access to over 1,000 manufacturers, many of which are located locally right in the Los Angeles area.
Saghian told WWD that it takes the company just 48 hours to design and manufacture a product.
After 48 hours, the items are ready to be shot on models — who’re in the office from Monday to Friday to pose in the 600 items Fashion Nova releases each week.
This constant newness keeps customers coming back frequently to Fashion Nova because they don’t want to miss a single trend.
“The devil works hard but Fashion Nova works harder”, read one viral tweet with screenshots of the brand’s products. It was liked by nearly 96,000 people on Twitter.
If you haven’t spent at least the same effort on the business model as on the product, you are only half prepared for the real world of business today. It’s hard to win by doing half the job, especially if that’s the easier half.
Defining one wisely, you get a 50% chance to win.
It’s Fashion Nova’s growth story. Now, it’s time for yours.
Fashion Nova is defying a slump in the fast-fashion industry by turning it to ultra-fast fashion.
They’re releasing 600 new looks every week and harnessing an army of 3,000 Instagram influencers around the world.
The brand has perfectly executed the art of instant gratification for a very specific customer persona: young men and women. The generation who consumes content on Instagram, know their angles and follow fashion trends from celebrities like the Kardashian – Jenners rather than fashion magazines or designer runways.
Now, my dear friend, using this Fashion Nova’s growth story as your inspiration, you can make this year your best year ever, whatever your goal is. Who knows, maybe next year, your own business journey will inspire us to write another eCommerce success story like this.