With the up-rise in so called ‘Instagram brands’ it can be hard to filter out the quality over quantity when it comes to up & coming Fashion lines. Nowadays people prop a logo on a plain tee and that’s the beginning of their new Fashion brand. The fashion world is a hard industry to break. Sometimes all it takes is for a public figure to wear your garments for you to get a momentum in sales. This Fashion Duo relied on vision and perseverance to get their brand to a respectable position in Contemporary Street wear. With the likes of Tinie Tempah a fan of this prosperous clothing line I sat down with the Owners Jonah Smith & Jacob Hungo to discuss how it all started.
How did NVLTY Start, What do you think were the pivotal points in the come up of the brand?
Jonah: We was at sixth Form and I remember Jacob being on one of the computers looking at certain brands, he was showing me these different brands and I thought I knew quite a few brands and I didn’t know about these brands , so I was like how do you know about these [laughs]. I remember going though his phone and seeing loads of those fashion inspired tumblr pictures and I said to him “why don’t you start an account or something” and he was like “alright I will”.
Then I remember the first day he did it he got a lot of followers, so I already knew at that point he kinda had a passion for clothes. I don’t actually remember how the conversation started about starting the brand as such.
Jacob: I can chime in for that one , In terms of the brand, the brand started with a kind of Instagram fashion blog page, it was called Novelty UK at the time, but before that happened I always wanted to start my own blog. I feel like at the time I just needed someone to tell me just go on, do it. Once I started doing the blog I knew how I was going to market on Instagram. Once I started gaining followers we started talking for hours about if we started a brand how we’d want it to be different and things like that. I remember one day Jonah came up with the concept of NVLTY so Novelty without the vowls. At this point I didn’t even think the name would be NVLTY at the time. We had just finished sixth form, I had no idea how to even make a garment but Jonah and his mum have a background of fashion, his mum went to fashion school. He was like yeah you get fabric you go and trim stuff, you get a pattern and all of this stuff and i’m just like swear down this is how things are made. It was all new to me. From there everyday we were just working on designs. We made two t-shirts and then from there we just like were gonna do this.
What year was that ?
Jacob: yeah within three months the blog had like 10,000 followers. We were working on the brand but at the same time I was making sure that the marketing side was right, making sure we were gaining followers.
Do you think in today’s day and age a social media presence is essential in a brand ?
Jacob: Yeah, it’s all about brand image at the end of the day
Jonah: yeah 100% , it don’t even matter if you have a store , social media is too important because everyone uses it.
Jacob: I feel like people might not see the value in social media , but it’s the most important thing. Every ones on their phone, every ones on Instagram, if they don’t have one they know about it. Clothes is about aesthetics so for us the Instagram just made perfect sense.
What were your biggest hurdles ?
Manufacturing was probably the most eye opening one , the first ever manufacturer we went to gave us the most ridiculous price ever. We came proper serious; we came with all of our designs ,this was the first time we’d been to a manufacturers. We came super prepared , we had booklets, we come to propose the amount that we want , it wasn’t a lot it was like fifty or sixty pieces to start with. We pitched everything and he was just looking at us. He was basically sniggering at us.
Do you think it’s because you were young that he didn’t take you seriously?
Jonah: yeah we got that a lot, we still get that till this day. He basically laughed at us and said if you want to do it here it’s going to cost you this much and it was like five times what we were thinking.
Jacob: When you look back it’s actually crazy, because now we know how much it costs to do everything. It’s like if it costs this much to make something then were going to have to charge this amount for the product and we didn’t even want to charge that amount. Starting up you realise how much it’s going to cost to make everything . It’s defiantly a struggle trying to do business with people that just see you as being young. It’s also expensive to manufacture in the UK in comparison to other places in the Europe.
How would you best describe NVLTY clothing?
Jacob: Vibes, just vibes , vibrations , energies [laughs] Especially with what’s coming out now because we’ve got operations sorted.
Jonah: I feel like now were in a position where we can bring out what ever we want, we don’t follow trends it’s what ever we see ourselves wearing. We want to stand out of the crowd.
When your at the design stage, what kind of consumer do you have in mind?
Jacob & Jonah : Ourselves
Jonah: If we can’t wear it , it don’t come out.
Jacob: It’s all art at the end of the day. there’s a correlation between art, between people who are designers in any aspect. it’s your work that you have to stand behind. If your a musician you have to stand behind your music. If we don’t like it how can we expect someone else to like it. If we can wear it then it’s Gucci.
With a few success stories of black commercial designers in the industry, is it hard to picture commercial success?
Jacob: Nope , very easy. you need to have self – belief . At the end of the day the person that says they can and they can’t their both right. At the age of 21 there’s no one else we can look at whose been able to come as far as we’ve come and there from where we are from at this point. There is no one to look to, so already we’ve broken the mould. There’s always gotta be the first. The product speaks for itself.
Any advice for people wanting to start their own brand within fashion ?
Jonah:Just start, don’t stop, your gonna have loads and loads of periods were your gonna get shut down a lot , your gonna feel like your getting held back but you just gotta push through it. Eventually it will get to the point where those stuff won’t happen as much and you’ll be able to flow a lot easier.
Jacob: You have to believe that what your saying is going to happen. Anyone who wants to start a brand , one step is better then no step. Were still learning, you either win or you learn.
Can you tell me about your latest Launch?
Jacob: Flannel season , the flannel pieces we knew would work for our customers. Since the release it’s been doing very well. We want it to be a staple piece , something that’s very easy to put on. I feel like within fashion sometimes people try and over complicate pieces, they go oh okay I need to design something and then they just think about the most craziest design. The real key is to be able to make simple. That sounds easy but it’s not.
What can we expect from NVLTY in the future ?
Jacob: More vibes , more energies. A lot more pieces. The last six moths we focused a lot on infrastructure and where were at as a company. We thought about where we fit in within our culture. Moving forward were going to create pieces for us, as a twenty-one year old what do I wanna be wearing? I feel like that’s the perfect thing cause I feel like we are our own demographic. were in between 16 and 25. In terms of the pieces were going to be expanding into bags, glasses and jackets. Were sure people are going to like it.
To shop NVLTY Visit www.NvltyLondon.com