Meg He and Nina Faulhaber co-founded the technical clothing brand ADAY, out of a desire to create a more simplified way of living. Balancing minimalist design with technical fabrics, they’ve created a wardrobe of versatile staples, designed to last throughout the seasons.
Since launching in June 2015, ADAY has been featured in everything from Fast Company and Forbes to Vogue and Refinery29. After starting out in London, Meg and Nina are now HQ’d in SoHo, NYC. With a sell-out clothing line and a string of pop-up stores behind them, we caught up with the girls to find out how they’ve managed it all.
ADAY is a very modern type of clothing brand. How did you come up with the idea?
We wanted to create beautifully crafted, technical wardrobe staples we could rely on: season on season, year on year. We started by looking at our favourite staple garments and asking ourselves, what is it we love about each piece and how can we make it better? From there, we started designing for ADAY, a uniform for life.
What are the wardrobe and lifestyle problems you’re trying to solve?
We’re not only trying to solve wardrobe problems – rather, we’d like to reimagine the way people wear and consume fashion. We believe the clothing of the future will be versatile and sustainable. So our philosophy is to create pieces that strike the balance between function, aesthetics and comfort. We want to create beautiful wardrobe staples which will take you through the seasons. Thinking about our favourite pieces in our “normal wardrobe” and re-imagining them through a performance lens, along with fabrics such as silk and cashmere.
We’re also hugely inspired by travel because it stands for the ultimate detachment from things and focuses on experiences. Our team grew up all over the world (China, Germany, Hong Kong, Switzerland, US and England - to name a few) and although our offices are based in London and New York, we feel at home in so many places. Travels to Japan, Scandinavia and South Africa have inspired many of the cuts and movements of our pieces.
Where are you mainly based now? How have you built your brand from here?
We started in London, but realised soon after launching that the majority of our customers were in the US. Even though we’re online-first, we believe in personal touch points. We wanted to have a studio where customers can come and say hi, we like to host events and pop-ups, and we think it’s important to meet partners and journalists in person. So our team packed up our bags, and we moved to NYC together. We still spend a lot of time in London and have a small office in Shoreditch as our factories and fabric suppliers are in Portugal and Italy.
You only launched last year but seem to have grown very quickly. How have you done it?
We put our growth down to the quality and innovation of our product. The first piece we designed was our Throw & Roll Leggings. They have gone on to sell out overnight five times now and are loved by customers and press. We wanted to create leggings with the tech to perform in any situation, the aesthetic to become an everyday wardrobe staple, and the comfort to live in. Produced in the same factory as Michael Phelps’ Olympic swimsuit, using the same production techniques with our signature compression fabric, they are the only leggings (we hope) you’ll ever need.
We also put a lot of our growth down to our strong community. For the first year, we placed a lot of focus on organic sales and increasing brand recognition. We held breakfasts, meditations and travel events with our community and have more in the pipeline. Meeting the names behind the orders and having an open channel of communication is really important to us.
What challenges do you face trying to grow a brand quickly whilst still making sure you’re true to your core values?
Whenever we’re faced with a trade-off between growth and values, we put core values above growth. For example, we get lots of opportunities to sell through large retailers which to date we’ve said no to because we don’t have the bandwidth and brand presence yet to design those opportunities in a way that conveys our core values. So we’ve focused on our own direct-to-consumer channel and are working hard on building brand, not just growth.
In the long run, we don’t think there is a trade-off between the two as our core values (innovating in how we consume and wear clothing, simplifying, creating space for things that matter) will have a bigger impact if we’re bigger.
How have you managed expanding internationally?
Being an e-commerce brand, international is one of our top priorities as we’re not restricted by confined spaces in individual locations. We’re currently shipping to the US, UK and Canada - and Australia, Germany and Hong Kong are next up. This is all demand-driven. We had lots of requests from those countries so we launched there first. We have requests from all over the world, so we’ll ship to more countries soon. We especially think Asia can be huge!
What were the biggest challenges of launching in a new, unknown city?
One of the challenges we faced was transatlantic communication, as we still have our base in London. Our team misses each other. However, it’s almost been a year in New York, and I think we’ve got it down to a fine art now. Lots of Google Hangouts, Skype, Facetime, Whatsapp and Slack. We use it all!
What things have you learnt from using pop-ups to test new places?
Pop-ups have been so valuable for us, as they create a space for customers to see and feel our product before ordering, which has proved to be beneficial as we grow our community. Interestingly, the conversion in a pop-up store has been even higher than through e-commerce, so we see huge opportunity there. We did our first ever pop-up together with Appear Here at TOPSHOP in London, and it was such an amazing experience. To date, we’ve done pop-ups in London and LA, and we’re working on something fun for NYC. We have big plans for after that!