In the show Sex and the City, you’ll often see Carrie Bradshaw in a dress. Sometimes it’s simple and modest and other times, they’re eye-catching and full of flair. The one thing in common is that there’s always an underlying hint of femininity to her outfits and that goes true for the actress who plays her as well. Sarah Jessica Parker’s go-to brand for a trusty whimsical and dreamy dress is Needle & Thread.
This contemporary British brand boasts of its occasion-wear pieces that completely reconditions our way of thinking about the clothes we wear for special occasions. Hannah Coffin, the founder, has always been inclined towards this line of work as she became junior designer for Karen Millen right after her graduation. She started Needle & Thread out of frustration and the need for a brand that ticks all the boxes for womenswear that looks elegant and feminine without being too excessive, design- and price-wise.
Launched in 2013, the brand first sold its collection of 25 embellished dresses on ASOS, which quickly took off and hit the brand up for a good start.
Perks and highlights of ready-to-wear
Having started with dresses, that’s what Needle & Thread would be known to specialize at but soon, separates particularly blouses, t-shirts, and sweatshirts were available under their name. They were all just as appealing as the dresses. No matter what kind of clothing, Needle & Thread’s general design aesthetic always includes the basic feminine details like lace and floral motifs, sequins, beading, embroidery, intricate patterns, and luxurious threads. For each piece, different combinations of those are used.
Aside from the external decoration, the brand makes sure to focus on the fit and wearability of the clothes. There’s a method as to how Needle & Thread does their sizes. Since they aim their clothes at real women, there’s an emphasis on making the clothes be as true-to-size as possible for the perfect fit on women of different sizes.
The price point was another huge factor for the brand. Sustainability plays a role in the pricing as Hannah Coffin wanted the clothes to be accessible to every woman but still offer something that’s a good value for money, something that can stay with you and that you’ll want to keep for a long time. With this, the brand contributes to the notion of affordable luxury in the fashion industry.
On the business side
Even with a promising start, Needle & Thread wasn’t immune to the struggle of lacking capital. At some point in 2014, the brand would have almost succumbed to it if not for the good connections Hannah Coffin has made throughout her experience in fashion. One of the best ones she’s made is with Marigay McKee, former chief merchant for Harrods and president of Saks Fifth Avenue, who took a chance on the brand and invested on it, which is a first for the McKee as well.
This allowed expansion as they were able to launch their own e-commerce a year after and acquire some of the biggest stockists namely Net-a-Porter, Harrods, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Selfridges among others, thanks to McKee’s connections in the industry as well. Even with a great lineup of stockists, there’s more places the brand can get into, which leaves room for wider expansion in the future.
Due to customer demand, Needle & Thread launched their first bridal collection in Spring 2016. Sold exclusively on Net-a-Porter and their official website, the more minimalistic bridal dresses and gowns were made for the modern bride and her bridesmaids too.
Though it’s an unpopular choice for most women to get their wedding gowns online and ready-to-wear, this bridal collection proved there are some who think differently. The gowns incorporated the same feminine details. Tulle skirts were frequent and the brand’s signature embroidery always found a place in the gowns. The fabrics were romantic, ethereal, and feminine and the modern bridal separates made the pieces wearable even after the big day.
The brand pushed further with color options for the brides who doesn’t want to go with the traditional white, beige, or cream dress. The red gowns sold 15 pieces within a few days of their first release. For the recent AW bridal collection, the color palette focus on the blend of pink and gray. The dresses play with sheerness, pearlescent accents, retro bell sleeves, tiers, and layers. The lax lookbook featuring women wearing their hair down, minimal accessories, and no-makeup makeup captures the essence of the casual, modern bride.
Transparency and accountability
With the ethical awareness of the brand, a whole market opens up for the women who actively selects the brands they support and buy from. Those who’ve made this conscious decision can rely on Needle & Thread to be transparent about their supply chain and production. Their website reveals that they employ a permanent team in India to manage the execution and production of the designs that were conceptualized by their team in the UK. A code of conduct determines the kind of work ethic and behavior their workers must follow and a zero-tolerance policy is in place to identify human rights violations. Direct engagement and regular presence in their factories show that the brand takes into their own responsibility their employees’ welfare and the safety and appropriateness of the environment they live and work in. What’s more, the brand uses no animal products other than lambswool and cashmere, and they don’t test products on animals.
Though the brand makes their best effort in those aspects, there’s no organic alternatives to the fabrics they use yet. More so, their plastic delivery packaging are obviously not yet fully-environment-friendly, which the brand promises to change by the end of 2018.
Though with a few mishaps, Needle & Thread’s efforts still exceed that of other brands in terms of their transparency and accountability. That’s a sign of a brand that cares for every aspect of their business from the supply chain to the customer. It’s a sign of a brand worth supporting.
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