Nynne, the fashion house created by Danish-born Nynne Kunde, is on a carefully plotted trajectory: a modern luxury brand focused on craftsmanship, and exaggerated silhouettes, that is ready to explore the American market in 2023.
Kunde graduated from the Istituto Marangoni in London in 2018 and a year later she was selling her eponymous label, initially into Japan through upscale retailer Ron Herman. The brand was picked up in Paris which, to date, is Nynne’s main sell-in location where it is showcased about four times a year.
In its early days, Nynne expanded through wholesale, keeping the online channel at arm’s length due to practical issues such as stock volumes, and the costs involved in returns, for example.
“Now that we are expanding we have pre-orders online, as well as a regular e-commerce shop since 2020, just before the pandemic started,” said 29-year-old Kunde. The service allows customers to pay upfront for pieces that are not out yet as a way to ensure they get them before they potentially sell out. It also means fans of the brand can wear the latest pieces before anyone else as they will have them at the same time as the collections reach retail outlets.
“Pre-order is a good way for us to gauge what consumers are looking for season to season and gives us a guide to how much we need to produce—because nobody wants to unsold stock or to overbuy fabrics,” noted Kunde. “It is also a more conscious way of buying.”
Therein lies a worthy sustainability angle; to produce zero waste. The fashion industry has been heavily criticized for its wasteful processes and Scandinavian designers, in particular, have taken the lead in making changes. Copenhagen Fashion Week and the associated trade fair CIFF (Copenhagen International Fashion Fair) are increasingly regarded as the drivers of sustainable strategies and the go-to places to find genuinely sustainable apparel.
Though still a young label, Nynne sources quality fabrics for long-lasting wear with 60% of all the fabrics used for its Fall/Winter 2021 collection recycled either or certified sustainable. The brand is gradually moving to fully sustainable sourcing; from technical fabrics to wools.
Nynne’s signature line, the Diana dress (with elasticated waist and puffy shoulders) fits many body types but is also a lesson in sustainable design. The company creates pieces that can be worn in a variety of ways, dressing them up or down for casual or formal occasions. Kunde says that the Diana dress is appropriate for the office as well as a wedding, or a walk in the park. It means clients can buy less and have a smaller wardrobe—if they choose to.
The company’s route to market through B2B and then online is the one she recommends for any higher-end startup label, but it depends on what is being produced. “Some brands are only online, whereas in our case, buyers need to see the fabrics and feel the textures, especially retail buyers who want to have the physical experience before placing orders,” said Kunde.
Those partners include department stores, fashion websites, high concept stores, and niche independent shops. Nynne is listed with some luxury big hitters like LVMH’s Le Bon Marché in Paris; Vestibule in Zürich, Switzerland; Bella Donna in Regensburg, Germany; and Fraenschuh in Kitzbühel, Austria. It also has online presences with high-end Milanese department store Rinascente; Florence-based LuisaViaRoma; and Beunica in the UK
“These stores have been good exposure for us,” said Kunde. “You need to be in the bigger, more prestigious outlets because the smaller ones then follow. For niche stores, it’s an investment and a bigger risk. It’s always good to buy a little bit first and then scale up.”
Move at the correct pace
Kunde is also more comfortable with that soft gentle approach… building up the brand a little at a time on strong foundations rather than going in big and brash, but then not sustaining that further down the line. During Covid, many retail partners were stuck by the brand, a sure sign that it was doing something right.
“Nowadays consumers are far less loyal to fashion brands. They shop around for their wardrobes which is fair considering how accessible brands are through social media and online,” Kunde said. With so little loyalty, it pays to develop a strong reputation that can cut through all the marketing hype out there, and Nynne is doing pretty well.
The brand is fairly widely available in European stores in eight country markets, plus Japan. The next step is the United States where Nynne, up to now, has been selling to private individual clients in New York, with online interest also steadily rising. There are enough email requests and clients to warrant retail forays, believes Kunde. “It’s a big step for us as it’s safer to stay here in Europe, but we’ve noticed that when we’ve talked to people in the US they know us so it’s a market we need to explore.”
When, in summer 2020, Kunde moved back to Copenhagen from London she adapted accordingly. Scandi fashion has a practical element to it with, for example, layered looks. What is on the catwalk can usually go straight into a consumer’s wardrobe. “London has always been known for what I would call ‘out there’ fashion because there are so many different cultures, but Danish fashion is evolving too with its colors and textures.”
The current sales split of the business is 70:30 in favor of physical stores versus e-commerce and the goal is to make it 50:50. Kunde says that the aim is purely from an income perspective as her company does not have to share the revenue from its own site and it also gets the benefit of full data access which can help drive geographical expansion strategies. As a self-confessed nerd, Kunde spends a lot of time looking at the data as a basis for making future plans.
“A lot of fashion designers today think they can start a brand and people will come to them, but that’s not the case,” said Kunde. “You have to adapt and look at the middle way which means being creative, but you still need to sell. The data helps because you can see exactly what’s selling—which colors and styles—and to which markets. It’s a great resource when you are starting out.”