Richard Saghian is the chief executive of privately-owned Fashion Nova, a fast-fashion company and a social media phenomenon that has achieved rapid growth through its work with influencers and its speed at delivering trend-led pieces.
Saghian was introduced to retail through his father, who owned women’s clothing stores where Saghian worked during his summers. He founded Fashion Nova in 2006 as a chain of stores selling low-price “clubwear” and apparel in Los Angeles-area malls. He launched the e-commerce site in 2013 and Instagram was central to the online business from the start. With 60,000 followers on his personal account prior to the launch of Fashion Nova, Saghian parlayed his bordering macro-influence into a loyal following for his then emerging brand. Jumping on the social media marketing wave early, Saghian was one of the first to recognise that social platforms would soon be integral to successful branding.
The company quickly became a cult hit, catering for all body types and ethnicities, many of whom feel ignored by mall retailers that offer limited plus-size lines. Its signature tight, high waisted “bodycon” style has set the instagram-aesthetic look into stone, characterised by affordable on-trend clothing endorsed by influencers and celebrities alike. The brand counts over 15 million followers across its Instagram accounts and many users routinely tag their selfies with the hashtag #NovaBabes. The value of Fashion Nova’s social media exposure is more than that of H&M and Zara combined. Around 2,000 influencers — including Cardi B , Kylie Jenner, Khloe Kardashian and Nicki Minaj — create roughly 6,000 pieces of content about the brand each month, making it one of the most talked about brands online despite being virtually unknown in some fashion circles. According to WWD, just a single post by Kylie Jenner, returns millions of dollars in revenue for Fashion Nova.
Fashion Nova works with about 1,000 different manufacturers to release 600 to 900 new styles per week, a pace Saghian said he wants to increase. Many items are made in Los Angeles, though the company also works with vendors in China. It is also widely popular in Canada and the United Kingdom. In 2016, the company banked on its sizeable popularity with plus-size consumers, launching the Fashion Nova Curve line. Expanding its catering to niche demographics, the brand launched menswear in June 2018.
Fashion nova has permeated every aspect of Instagram’s style crowd, often featured alongside high-end brands worn by celebrities in their brand deals. High levels of engagement, routinely responding to tagged posts and comments have established the brand’s high trustworthiness among the digitally-savvy generation. In 2018, Fashion Nova surpassed the internet presence levels of legacy brands such as Gucci, Louis Vuitton and Chanel ranking first place web-searched fashion brands. In the same year, the company turned profitable, growing by 600% .
In 2018, Fashion Nova came under much social media fire for its celebrity knock-off styles, copying the likes of Kylie Jenner, Kim Kardashian and designs by indie labels. The brand also struck a deal with rapper Tekashi 6ix9ine in which he would name-drop the label in a song, however the lyrics were pulled following a dispute between Nicki Minaj and Cardi B , a brand ambassador.