Fourteen years ago, one might not have been able to predict that Richard Saghian, a young Iranian-American man who had spent most of his summers learning all about the retail industry by working at his father’s women’s clothing boutique in Los Angeles, would dare to start up a company that would make a massive mark in fast fashion. One truly might not have been also able to foresee him launching a charitable advocacy group focused on women’s empowerment called Fashion Nova Cares.
The dauntless chief executive of Fashion Nova, a privately-owned company launched in 2006, began with just a chain of brick and mortar stores selling low-price “clubwear” and apparel in Los Angeles-area malls. Four years later and after seeing the potential of Fashion Nova as an online brand, Saghian courageously decided to launch an e-commerce site in 2013. It is now one of the largest and fastest-growing e-commerce platforms, as the website continuously offers its customers new merchandise, and releases about 600 original pieces each week, most of which often are sold out immediately.
This large number of new pieces released each is possible because the LA-based company has its retailers working with more than 1,000 product manufacturers and receiving samples within 24 hours of conceptualizing an item. The items are shot on currently available models in one of the company’s five offices, and the finished product goes up on the website within 1-2 weeks at the very latest.
Saghian claimed in an interview with Refinery 29 that he realized that his brand spoke to what some may consider an “urban” demographic. In doing so his company provides clothes and empowerment to those typically excluded from the fashion industry.
You can easily tell that Mr. Saghian is not a big fan of the press. He largely avoids the spotlight as much as he can. He rarely partakes in interviews, too, partly because being interviewed makes him uncomfortable. He even dismisses a portrait photographer’s idea for the minimal number of meetings he agreed to join. He is not one you see in many camera clips or press statements. However, he has proven to be hugely successful over the last decade.
Saghian has built his retail business through his e-commerce website and the social media platform Instagram, which serves as a major driver of traffic, by partnering with more than 3,000 high-profile celebrities and top influencers including Kylie Jenner, Cardi B, Khloé Kardashian, Kourtney Kardashian, and Amber Rose. Fashion Nova gets a considerable number of website traffic: in fact, they receive 15M monthly visits — considerably higher than brands like Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Dior, or Moschino. And in 2018, when Google released its 2018 Year in Search report, Fashion Nova was the most Googled fashion brand. Their website traffic superseded that of major luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Versace, and Givenchy, in that respective order
The Los Angeles based store, with only five physical locations scattered across Southern California, has over 20 million Instagram followers and an exponential growth rate of 600% year over year. This is fascinating because ‘super-smart’ Saghian, unlike any chief executive, has achieved the top spot with Fashion Nova not by doing any traditional marketing like other brands. According to Richard Saghian, founder & CEO, “There was no runway show, no interviews, no press releases, no placements in magazines, and nothing with traditional marketing campaigns or SEO tactics.”
Richard Saghian discovered the power of Instagram very early in his sojourn. By working with women like Kehlani, Kylie Jenner, and Cardi B, he’s leveraged the power of celebrities to change how customers react to advertisements and sponsored posts and conveyed a new sense of authenticity. His brand has attracted women with body measurements that don’t always fit within standard sizing by making genuinely fitting apparel and accessories. Its target audience surrounds women with fascinating shapes such as Cardi B or Blac Chyna — who have bulbous hips, round butts, and spindle-like waists. Fashion Nova’s clothing has features that are revealing and tight, translating into barely-there streetwear and attention-getting club attire .
It’s a no brainer that Fashion Nova’s physical stores have become tourist destinations in California. But Saghian has no desire to open up a big flashy flagship store on Rodeo or anywhere else. At the Burbank Town Centre Mall, the Fashion Nova store, which stands at 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 bother Saghian at the slightest. “I had a goal of opening one hundred stores across the U.S. when I first started the business, but the effort it takes to launch a store is far harder than increasing revenue online,” said Saghian. He added, “Why open up more stores when I can open up to more countries — with less effort?” Instead of building flashy brick-and-mortar stores, he led his team dedicated their energy to building the brand’s social media presence — especially on Instagram. The brand updates its feed every 30 minutes and executes influencer marketing fluently. This strategy has helped Fashion Nova become the Instagram blockbuster that every eCommerce brand dreams of.
Fourteen years in, we can tell that Richard Saghian knew what he wanted when he envisaged the fast fashion retail store. He soon turned an ultra-fast fashion retail store with his unique marketing strategies into Fashion Nova, the giant we know today.