By Chere Di Boscio
It all started out rather humbly, on Ebay.
That’s where Nasty Gal Vintage, as it was known at the time, was launched by founder Sophia Amoruso. Selling one-of-a-kind vintage pieces that she sourced, styled, photographed, and shipped herself, Amoruso was inspired by the funky 70s style of Betty Davis, the wife of Miles Davis, who Amoruso says had the ‘badass style’ of a true ‘nasty gal.’
A longtime vintage clothing fan and photography fan, Amoruso understood, as most fashion editors do, that they key to creating desire for a piece of clothing is to sell a story behind it. Good stylists, photographers and models all collaborate to create a fantasy around a look, whether it’s a fringed buckskin jacket from the 60s, stacked platform heels from the 70s or a sequinned dress from the 80s, that becomes irresistible to the viewer.
As Amoruso puts it:
“You can turn (an item) into the most covetable piece of vintage because you put it on a girl…who’s showing you how to wear it, having an attitude that’s approachable but still sexy, friendly and cool.” In other words, the clothes certainly don’t need to be expensive designer pieces to sell well–as Amoruso learned, presentation is everything.
Within 18 months of starting out on Ebay, Nasty Gal transformed into its own online shop, still selling vintage treasures Amoruso found after scouring thrift shops herself. Today, the e-tailer has approximately 110 employees and a 2011 revenue of $24 million—a 11,200% three-year growth rate.
This incredible success story is mainly down to word of mouth via social media: Nasty Gal has amassed more than 275,000 Facebook fans and 35,000 Twitter followers, and even more follow the company’s blog, which now includes ‘Sophia’s Corner’, where the founder shares her thoughts with Nasty Gal fans.
But Nasty Gal’s success is also due to its site itself: engaging, colourful and clear, there’s lots of information about each piece, plenty of photos, and styling suggestions, too. Customer service is wonderful: you can always find someone to chat to if you need any help or have any problems; the retailer ships internationally, and returns are free.
These characteristics helped Nasty Gal expand its customers further, and as the company grew, so did the profile of those willing to work with the brand. Today, it counts Terry Richardson, Hugh Lippe, Jeff Hahn, Alexandra Richards, Syd tha Kyd, Langley Hemingway, and Girls writer Lesley Arfin as contributors and collaborators.
Amoruso has also recently applied her taste for vintage style into her own limited-edition range, launched in 2012, and in September of that year, Nasty Gal debuted its Fall/Winter 2012 Collection, called Weird Science, during New York Fashion Week.
Ever since, the company has continued to launch various collections in synch with the fashion seasons–an unfortunate direction, if you ask us: although the brand was once completely sustainable as it dealt only in vintage, the new collections are not so eco-friendly.
That being said, Nasty Gal has created a line called After Party Vintage, which uses vintage fabrics to create modern vintage looks, and of course the site still does have an actual vintage section stocked with red-hot items as kick-ass as anything Betty Davis–or our new style heroine, Sophia Amoruso, would wear.
To shop Nasty Gal’s vintage collections, please click here.