SLOW LANE

MOVE OVER, fast fash­ion, this brand is break­ing all the RULES – in­clud­ing hav­ing no in­ven­tory – and mak­ing se­ri­ous COIN.

Collective Hub - - FASHION - WORDS FIONA MAC­DON­ALD

Most of us are all too fa­mil­iar with the on­line shop­ping cy­cle – it’s 11pm and you’re trawl­ing through your 24th page of near-iden­ti­cal but not quite right dresses. With a cart full of items you know you’ll never wear (and prob­a­bly can’t af­ford), you even­tu­ally close the win­dow, dis­sat­is­fied and no closer to find­ing the per­fect week­end out­fit.

This is the ex­act sce­nario that Nyree Corby, CEO of fash­ion la­bel Fame and Part­ners, found her­self in time and time again. Back in 2013 she was em­ployed at a ven­ture cap­i­tal firm in Syd­ney and needed to find af­ford­able but well­made dresses she could wear to work events, without to­tally for­go­ing her per­sonal style.

It was shortly af­ter one of these latenight shop­ping fail­ures that the idea for Fame and Part­ners ap­peared – a made-to­order, in­ven­tory-free cloth­ing brand.

In a sim­i­lar vein to e-tailer Shoes of Prey, Fame and Part­ners of­fers clas­sic wardrobe sta­ples and trend-based items (think amaz­ing cock­tail dresses and those wide-legged pants you’ve seen all over In­sta­gram), but also lets shop­pers cus­tomise the fit, colour and fin­ish of ev­ery­thing be­fore they buy it. Thus giv­ing women tai­lored, one-of-a-kind looks for high-street prices.

It’s al­most the po­lar op­po­site busi­ness model to fast-fash­ion re­tail­ers, which thrive on pump­ing out mas­sive num­bers of run­way-in­spired, trend-based pieces to be worn once and dis­carded. In fact, Nyree calls Fame and Part­ners the “anti-fast-fash­ion” brand.

Four years on and it con­tin­ues to go from strength to strength. What started off as a shop for cock­tail dresses and even­ing wear now of­fers a com­plete range of fully cus­tomis­able cloth­ing, from maxi dresses and ca­sual sep­a­rates to their lat­est ad­di­tion: stylish but af­ford­able wed­ding dresses.

“When women shop, we have a pic­ture in our heads of what we want, and it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble to find some­thing that lives up to ex­pec­ta­tions. That’s the ex­act case I was try­ing to ad­dress,” says Nyree dur­ing her lat­est trip back to Syd­ney. “The vi­sion was to cre­ate the world’s first made-to-or­der per­son­alised fash­ion la­bel, un­der­pinned by the world’s first in­ven­tory-less man­u­fac­tur­ing and re­tail model.”

Af­ter se­cur­ing close to AU$10 mil­lion in se­ries A fund­ing at the start of last year, Nyree has since re­lo­cated the busi­ness to Los An­ge­les and di­vides her time be­tween Syd­ney and Cal­i­for­nia, where the brand is win­ning over the US mar­ket.

She launched her first com­pany at 21 – a dig­i­tal ser­vices busi­ness called Topia that she scaled to AU$4 mil­lion in rev­enue – right be­fore the fi­nan­cial cri­sis hit. Los­ing two of her main clients in one go, she was forced to file for vol­un­tary ad­min­is­tra­tion, and spent the next five years work­ing in dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing and ven­ture cap­i­tal firms, help­ing other start-ups achieve their dreams.

The whole time, Nyree was keep­ing her eye out for her next busi­ness op­por­tu­nity and, in 2013, with ma­jor re­tail­ers such as Amer­i­can Ap­parel and Gap clos­ing stores across the globe, it was the fash­ion in­dus­try that ap­peared ripe for rein­ven­tion.

“The big head­line that I picked up on was that 50 per cent of wom­enswear was be­ing cleared at mark­down,” she ex­plains. “That was just crazy to me. I knew it had to be cre­at­ing anx­i­ety and pain points in the con­sumer shop­ping ex­pe­ri­ence, but I also couldn’t un­der­stand how brands could be mak­ing money off this model.”

Fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion re­vealed that an ad­di­tional 20 per cent of wom­enswear was also be­ing sold in se­condary mar­kets or end­ing up in land­fill – which makes it un­sur­pris­ing that, last year, fash­ion emerged as the sec­ond most pol­lut­ing in­dus­try on the planet, right af­ter oil. >

The VI­SION was to cre­ate the world’s FIRST madeto-or­der PER­SON­ALISED FASH­ION la­bel.

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