From The Editor

Editor's Letter 2018

From celebrating ten years of Not Just A Label to fearlessly venturing into a space that will bring even more value to our platform, this past year has been a period of reflection and reinvention. I’m writing my annual editor’s letter as NJAL stands on the precipice of a thrilling new chapter—one that propels our entire community into a space where empowerment, education, and opportunity take on even greater meaning.

This year we set in motion a series of ventures that will unlock an  exciting future for NJAL. For the first time in our history we welcomed investors on board, restructured the company to a remote model, launched a new website, and in turn, are about to offer a unique  membership functionality for our designers.

Having said goodbye to London last year, our team now finds itself rooted in Los Angeles, a city that is eager to create a future of fashion that looks much different than what we see today.

We’re distributed across freeways, cities, and beaches—a facet that enables us to work faster, smarter, and outside of the confines of tradition.

This year marked ten years of NJAL. We’ve come a long way since our beginnings, but one thing remains the same: a driving force and ethos that is centered around disrupting the industry and elevating rule-breakers who aim to revolutionize fashion. To kick-off our ten-year anniversary, we reached out to those who make NJAL what it is today. From exciting anecdotes around how NJAL boosted a career to the numerous creative opportunities made possible by connecting on our platform, it was impossible to not feel inspired from the reflections and stories around how NJAL has shaped the fashion landscape over the past decade.

To further celebrate our tenure of supporting, inspiring, and connecting emerging designers across the world, we launched a brand new digital platform. Our new look is an encapsulation of our community and the creativity that lives within it—it’s why we chose to redesign in the first place, and why the entire interface is focused around the visual narratives that each designer brings to the world. From a robust search component and thought-provoking and insightful editorial pieces to informative forums and continued industry exposure, the new NJAL will serve as a destination for our community for years to come.

But even with this exciting new venture for NJAL, it’s impossible to ignore the certain fact that nothing has really changed. Not enough, that is. From the reverberations of the #MeToo movement to the political realities of both the US and the UK, this year has presented us all with the consequences of a world that has its fair share of darkness; one that is riddled with greed and self-serving impulses that favor pay-checks and egos over human decency. We cannot ignore the world around us and hide in an idealized perspective of our daily lives—because that idealized place doesn’t exist today, and more importantly, it can’t exist today. Complacency stifles creativity; lack of creativity lends itself to an acceptance of the unacceptable.

When I made my keynote speech at the 2018 Condé Nast International Luxury Conference in Lisbon, I addressed leaders within the luxury sphere in fashion and asked them some hard questions—questions that we cannot afford to ignore any longer. I asked them to question what is wrong with luxury today. The answer, sadly, is easy to come by. Human rights are violated, the environment continues to be harmed, and the drone of mass-production continues to drown out our most passionate and creative voices.

This disconnect and willingness to turn a blind eye trickles down to consumers who just float along in the stream.

We have kids walking around today wearing shallow versions of luxury items, over-hyped garments, and fast-fashion goods. There’s an inherent lack of care and creativity that pushes and pulls the levers of the industry.

We need to strive to bring fashion back to a space where it inspired individuals, where it was a place to explore and take risks. We need to stop seeing average clothing as a trend that ends up in the hands of many at the expense of others.

It is hard to do the job we do at NJAL when you think of all the negative. But that’s why we continue to forge on, bolstered by our community of hard-working and rule-breaking designers who refuse to accept the old rules. In direct contrast to the negativity are those who fight back: the election of Trump has ignited one the biggest youth movements against the 2nd amendment and the allegations against men like Weinstein and Testino have sparked incredibly powerful shifts in our society. Change is happening, and the luxury leaders and established brands need to get on board.

A source of that change is our community. 2018 has seen a surge of new designers joining NJAL. Of the 35,000+ designers on the platform, over 4,000 are new to the website and we are seeing anywhere between 300 and 500 collections being uploaded a week. Since the launch of our revamped website, we have seen monthly user rates increase drastically. The growth and creative energy is explosive.

With our new platform and support from investors, we are set to launch a tailor-cut premium service for designers in 2019. The program represents the continued effort to shift the way in which consumers, designers, and all other industry players interact with both one another and the fashion world at large.

The new service connects designers and consumers by offering up shoppable capabilities. We have an incredible pool of talent at our fingertips, and it was almost out of a sense of duty that we create a network that encourages the perusing and transactional nature of fashion.

Rather than taking a commission on each piece sold via NJAL, we focused on making a more sustainable and empowering model, which is what led us to this new vision. If designers are ready to sell, then they pay a small monthly fee to make their page, pieces, and collections link out to their own personal shops. Designers are able to be part of this aggregated shop and receive a long list of business services and partnerships that are exclusive to their membership.

While the digital age has amplified fast-fashion, I think it is important to also see it as a force for change; a way to fight back against fast-fashion. Many consumers today are eager to find unique pieces that speak to them, but the discovery process can feel a bit daunting. We were eager to not only elevate our designers, but also provide consumers with this space to engage with fashion on a much more thoughtful and personal level.

Rather than searching endlessly for a piece or walking into a store to buy a mass-produced item, consumers can come to NJAL and make a political and ethical choice via the power of their purchase.

From an incredibly specific search function to the constant circulation of designers across the site, we’re constantly working to make the NJAL designer discoverable. It’s been a core value since the beginning and one we will always stand behind with every step we take.

Even with the occasional turbulence, this year was full of creative inspiration within our community. NJAL is here to continue this revolution in fashion, supporting designers in every way and focusing on big scale impact so that we can make a difference that ripples across industries.

From London to Los Angeles and beyond, 2018 has been a period of growth, change, and a venture into the unknown, and I look forward to pushing the NJAL flock to a place where boundaries are broken, careers are catapulted, and opportunities are endless.

Happy Holidays and here’s to a visionary 2019,

Stefan Siegel, and the NJAL Team