Influencer Arielle Charnas launches Something Navy after Nordstrom

Influential Arielle Charnas attends the Beach Cover Arielle Charnas Beach Magazine Celebration at the Southampton Social Club on July 24, 2019 in Southampton, New York.

Mark Sagliocco | fake pictures

Arielle Charnas, the mega fashion influencer with 1.3 million followers on Instagram, is relaunching her Something Navy brand on Monday, this time alone.

The Charnas launch, previously scheduled for March, comes amid the coronavirus pandemic, which continues to plague much of the retail industry and has already led to numerous bankruptcies from companies such as J.Crew, Brooks Brothers, JC Penney, Neiman. Marcus and Lucky Brand, to name a few.

The pandemic delayed the timing of Something Navy’s reboot, after a stint at Nordstrom, as retailers were quickly forced to adapt to the closing stores and consumers were trapped in their homes and many without jobs. Today, according to Charnas, his followers are eager to buy clothes again.

“I received a lot of comments from my followers and they are ready … they are really excited to have that spark of hope and something to look forward to,” Charnas said in a phone interview. “They want to buy pieces for dinner, even if they are sitting outside wearing a mask.”

Previously, you could find pieces of Something Navy at Nordstrom, after Charnas struck a deal with the Seattle-based department store chain to be the sole supplier of its line. The items, which sold almost instantly in sizes and styles after each fall, were produced by Nordstrom, with Charnas promoting and designing outfits on its Instagram page. In September 2018, when Something Navy launched on Nordstrom, more than $ 4.4 million in clothing and accessories were sold in one day, the companies said.

I am always talking to my clients. I think that’s the biggest difference between the brand I’ve created and some of those bigger companies.

Arielle Charnas

Something founding of the Navy

Nordstrom President Pete Nordstrom at one point called the Charnas collection the “most successful” launch at the retailer.

But in late 2019, when Charnas was offered the opportunity to renew her contract with Nordstrom or go alone, she voted for the latter.

“Working with Nordstrom was one of the most amazing opportunities … with one of the biggest players in the retail sector,” he said. “I learned a lot. But at the end of the day, I wanted more control. The goal of this brand is to deliver exactly what my followers are asking for. The best way to do it was not to be attached to anyone else.” ”

Still, she has drawn the attention of others to help her along the way.

Hong Kong billionaire Silas Chou, one of the first investors in the Tommy Hilfiger and Michael Kors brands, through his fund Vanterra Capital recently participated in a $ 10 million financing round for Something Navy, valuing the business at approximately $ 45 million.

Other investors in Something Navy include Box Group, which backs eyewear maker Warby Parker; M3 Ventures; Silas Capital; Third-class venture capital; and Rent the Runway co-founder Jennifer Fleiss.

Committed followers

Charnas, who currently serves as founder and creative director of Something Navy, also recently handed over key leadership responsibilities to founder of another brand, Matt Scanlan. He co-founded the direct-to-consumer cashmere brand Naadam, and now holds the title of interim CEO for Something Navy.

“I have never seen such a passionate or committed community,” Scanlan said of Charnas’ supporters. “A powerful conversation with your community can ultimately build a more efficient and sustainable business.”

If you follow Charnas’ personal Instagram account, you’ll often see her posting polls asking people to respond what colors they want in a top, what style of shoes they prefer, or what pants cut looks best.

Those hundreds of thousands of responses “inform inventory planning and purchasing,” Scanlan said. “This can affect how profitable we can become.”

Surely, since the Something Navy brand is so closely tied to Charnas, the company’s fortune could be closely aligned with its own personal success. Being such a big name, Charnas has faced his online backlash over the years, most recently for fleeing to the Hamptons after being diagnosed with Covid-19. As is the case when major retailers sign deals with celebrities as endorsements, there is a great deal of trust instilled in that person to be the face of the brand.

Charnas told CNBC that the future of fashion, in her opinion, is for brands to have “two-way conversations” with consumers.

“I am always talking to my clients,” he said. “I think that is the biggest difference between the brand I have created and some of those bigger companies.”

Moving online

Charnas and Scanlan are betting that their destiny will be better than many in the business of selling clothing and accessories today. Dollars spent on clothing decreased nearly 45% year-over-year during the three months ended May 2020, according to data from the NPD Group. However, the firm said there is some optimism online.

In early June, American consumers planned to do more than 50% of their clothing purchases in the coming weeks online, according to the NPD. Last week, online clothing shopping activity was still 50% above levels in the first half of June, even as stores are starting to reopen, the company added.

“Online shopping is one of many new behaviors and routines developed under home stay restrictions that are likely to have some staying power,” said Maria Rugolo, apparel analyst at NPD.

For now, Something Navy will live entirely online, as plans to open a physical store in New York have been postponed due to the pandemic. But stores are in the works, and even potentially wholesale distribution one day, according to Charnas and Scanlan.

The launch of Something Navy could demonstrate, in some ways, where fashion is headed in a more digital world where many young consumers are tied to their phones and social media accounts. Are people more likely to turn to celebrities to buy clothes? Time will tell.

Everything in the first drop of the Something Navy collection is priced under $ 200.