From The Editor

Editor's Letter 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, I write my annual Editor’s Letter from LA’s Laurel Canyon – knowing I will spend my first Christmas away from my snowy Alpine hometown (…instead, waiting for my Visa). This year has clearly been one filled with valuable lessons, but most importantly, the realisation that sometimes you need some distance, and time for personal disruption, in order to gain a different perspective on an industry like ours, and a business like Not Just A Label.

I started 2017 with the realisation that I was no longer able to exemplify the ethos of our own brand. While I was preaching to fellow creatives about a ‘business of the future’ being agile and not static, I found myself with two dozen full-time employees and a large office space in London. The overheads were increasing, our imagination and creativity decreasing. At the same time, the city I loved and invested so much in, felt less open to like-minded freaks and black sheep like us. Despite a seven-digit turnover and a healthy profit, we were banging our heads against the brick wall of our East London office. 

Keynote speech for Costa Rica Fashion Summit, San Jose, August 2017

While I was lecturing about the decentralisation of creative capitals, and advising our designers to go where the ecosystems are more start-up friendly, I also decided to practise what I preach and moved NJAL with me to Los Angeles. 

Since earlier this year, NJAL no longer relies on permanent office spaces, our team is distributed globally and works in an adaptive environment. We no longer rely on fashion city centres. We now operate in an uncontaminated and free environment, without the need to constantly compare ourselves to the rest of the industry. At the same time, we have given ourselves a most valuable gift: by massively reducing our costs, we can make mistakes again. We can take bigger risks, we can innovate and we can learn from the lessons we face on a daily basis.

Judging panel for CNMI's Green Carpet Talent Competition, Paris, July 2017

Similar to our designers, we require a fearless system that allows us to tell great stories, and ultimately, make people care. This year we have continued spreading our Authentic Radicalism manifesto to far-flung corners of the globe: from reaching in to new markets, such as Costa Rica this summer, to building a bridge to the established world of luxury fashion at Suzy Menkes’ Condé Nast Luxury Conference earlier this year in Oman. In Los Angeles we continued our partnership with LA City. How we consume, communicate, live, work and think is being transformed by technology. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and I convened the brightest thinkers across retail, technology, real estate, fashion, and government to map out how we can rise to the challenges ahead.

Keynote speech for the Condé Nast International Luxury Conference, Oman, April 2017

More than ever, our industry needs to take a long hard look at itself. The lack of depth in our conversations means we are unable to take risks and innovate when, and where, we really need it. Implementing these aspects into a business is of course not an easy task, but work shouldn’t be easy—it should be rewarding. 

LA Mayor Eric Garcetti and Stefan Siegel present 'Cities and a Bold Vision for Retail', Los Angeles, September 2017

My personal move to Los Angeles certainly gave me the clarity, the strength and the willpower to continue pushing for innovation, even if sometimes the comfort of the entrenched fashion system seemed like an attractive short-term option. 

Most rewarding was certainly the decision by some of the most respected financiers in fashion and luxury to decide to join Not Just A Label’s circle of shareholders. I am pleased to announce that Ms. Carmen Busquets, as well as both Mr. Adrian Cheng and Mr. Clive Ng of C-Ventures, have joined the NJAL project by making an equity investment. It is both inspiring and encouraging to meet investors who share the same ideals around supporting creatives, nurturing creative ecosystems, and pairing sustainability with profitability in business. 

'Denim Legends' at FIT NY, New York City, September 2017

For 2018 we have a series of very exciting plans to share with our community. But for now, let us celebrate a year that was so valuable, realising that in order to innovate, in order to break down barriers we sometimes just need take a step back, and evaluate our situation from a different point of view.

Happy Holidays and here’s to a visionary 2018,

Stefan Siegel, and the NJAL Team