Nowadays, society values authenticity in brands over everything else. From starting out as a small business to scaling internationally, it’s imperative to ensure your brand still carries the same values you forged from day one to maintain an authentic image.
For Paloma Wool, day one was pitching her idea for an art-informed fashion label to her friend Tana Latorre, who would one day become Creative Director of the brand. Self-described on their website as a ‘project on photography, clothing and other experiments,’ the eponymous label saw Paloma Wool’s natural flair for fashion and design coupled with an appreciation for art in all its disciplines. When the brand grew to international acclaim as a fresh new voice in the fashion world, what was most important to the label when scaling was staying true to what made them so unique originally; focusing on their key pillars of art, community and conscious fashion. This authenticity earned the brand a loyal international audience, a process attendees were enlightened about by Creative Director Tana Latorre for the last event of our Today at Apple series. Tana revealed how Paloma Wool tackled the challenges that came with international success and how they stayed true to their roots throughout.
Identify the main pillars of your brand.
Right from the start, Tana advised that your core values need to be strong and communicated through everything you do; from branding to content, product to social media. By establishing these early on, a brand can use them as their North Star as it moves forward on its journey, to international acclaim or otherwise. For Paloma Wool, there were several pillars to her work: a woman-focused narrative, a focus on the influence of art and conscious fashion production; to name a few. By staying true to these key messages and constantly checking in on them throughout the brand’s five-year journey, Paloma Wool maintained its powerful image from inception to present day. “It’s a question we get quite a lot, whether we’ve stayed true to our brand or not,” said Tana, “I’m proud to say yes, maintaining our brand was very organic for us.”
Integrate the local community.
Once you’ve established your brand’s image and have promoted it in everything you do, you’re bound to catch the eye of some like-minded people. Enlisting the help of fans, whether to collaborate on something completely new or just get feedback, can be a perfect opportunity to maintain your brand’s authenticity as it scales. From poets to painters, sculptors to directors, there aren’t many disciplines that Paloma Wool hasn’t worked with to build her brand alongside her core values. “When we were asked to have our first residency in Liberty London, we thought we could ask some designers from our native Barcelona to help us with the space,” recounted Tana, “but we were huge fans of the London-based Dello Studio, so we thought why not incorporate local talent instead?” The resulting residency was such a success, it’s still standing two years later, and helped Paloma Wool to bring their ideas across the water without compromising their values.
Leave the desk and do it yourself.
When Paloma Wool found herself on the shortlist of our Space for Ideas competition, she decided it was a sign she should test physical retail and take her idea on tour, making the decision to take the label to New York City for the first time. The team knew the only way to make sure the brand’s unique aesthetic and core message were translated well was if they did it themselves. Bringing the whole concept of the store in one suitcase, the team left the safety of their Barcelona office to the free store they had won in New York. Buying all other props from the nearby Chinatown area, their hands-on approach meant that the resulting space was unmistakably Paloma Wool. “Leaving the office and making the brand real and tangible was incredible. It was great to not just show the customer the product but to meet them as well, there were lines around the block,” recalled Tana.
Teamwork: be part of something bigger.
One thing we learned from hearing Tana speak was that Paloma Wool isn’t just the product of its founder, but a team of like-minded creatives all following the same path and following their combined instinct as artists and entrepreneurs alike. By doing this, a brand’s team can move collectively forward while still keeping their values organically. Tana recalled how Paloma came into the office one day and saying: ‘Today, we are building a pyramid together.’ It’s an activity that might seem alien to most corporate teams, but it is exactly this kind of creative expression that keeps the Paloma Wool team focused on the influence that first inspired the brand and still drives them to this day: art.
If you have an idea you want to bring to life, enter our Space for Ideas competition for a chance to win a free store, designed for you. Deadline for entries is March 1st.