London label Related Apparel creates contemporary pieces that take you from office to bar with ease. We caught up with co-founder Joanna Nicola to discover the secrets of the brand’s success
Words Hannah Hopkins
If you’re revamping your wardrobe, then take note of Related Apparel. Created by mother-daughter duo Joanna and Helen Nicola (who also run the successful Oxygen boutique in London), it offers pretty blouses, mix-and-match sets and day-to-night dresses that are both stylish and affordable and boast fans like Pandora Sykes, Kendall Jenner, Jessica Alba, Margot Robbie and Jamie Chung.
Thanks to the pair’s intrinsic ability to identify the wardrobe requirements of the working woman, the brand’s star is firmly in the ascent. We chatted to Joanna to find out what it’s like working in the competitive fashion industry, autumn trends and her favourite London spots.
How did Related Apparel get started?
We’d been running Oxygen boutique for about seven years and realised there was a gap in the market for contemporary pieces that were more affordable, and so our own line Related Apparel was born. It’s been brilliant for us and attracted a new customer to the boutique and online store.
Do you think its success is because you’ve found what the modern woman is looking for?
Absolutely, a lot of the pieces are highly versatile and take you from office to bar. A lot of our blouses and two-pieces for example can be worn in the day and the evening and also the price-point (around £90 – £300) makes it more approachable. We’d place ourselves between high street and upper high street brands – the difference being that we use more expensive fabrics but can keep the cost down because we have our own factories.
Did you always want to work in fashion?
My family has always been in fashion, they have a manufacturing business, so it’s in the blood! I steered away from the daily business for a bit, working as a food stylist assisting Gizzi Erskine and also working on Masterchef, but I came back to fashion eventually – I couldn’t get away from it!
How important has social media been in building your brand?
Massively important. Instagram especially has been brilliant with helping us build a customer base. People email us all the time saying “I’ve seen this on Instagram, where is it on your site?” and that’s invaluable when it comes to sales and followers.
Oxygen Boutique and Related Apparel are a family business, how does that assist your work?
It works really well because we all trust each other and we’re all very similar. My Mum and I in particular have the same taste, so we can attract a younger and an older customer with Related Apparel and have a different perspective on age groups. Regardless, we both want the label to be accessible and ageless.
How do you come up with designs? Where do you get inspiration from
Everywhere! Both of us search for fabrics in Japan and Italy, we research on Instagram and we always have a look at what other designers are doing.
Who wears the brand?
A lot of celebrities, like Kendall Jenner, Jessica Alba and Margot Robbie, also fashion editors like Pandora Sykes.
What trends are you seeing for autumn?
Lots of blouses, suits for work, pyjama-style tops and bottoms, frills and fluted sleeves. faux fur coats, metallics and classically autumnal colours like oranges and browns.
What qualities does it take to be a successful businesswoman in this industry?Being very dedicated and working really hard. It’s taken many years to build a brand and customer base. You just have to keep going and don’t give up!
What’s coming up for Related?
We’ve got the Christmas capsule party dress collection coming out soon, then the spring collection and we might also be working on an affordable bridal brand. I got married a few months ago and it was so difficult to find a cool dress, so there’s definitely a niche there!
JOANNA’S FAVOURITE LONDON SPOTS
For a girl’s night out?
A romantic dinner?
The Corinthia – the facials are dreamy.
Your ideal weekend to wind down?
We have a holiday home in Cyprus near Paphos, so we go there for a long weekend – it’s beautiful and in the middle of nowhere!