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Sustainable clothes don't have to be boring, says NA-KD boss

In an interview with Lounge, the Swedish brand's Jarno Vanhatapio and Nykaa Fashion's Adwaita Nayar talk about the collaboration and vision for the Indian market 

Swedish brand NA-KD has entered India via the Nykaa Fashion e-commerce platform
Swedish brand NA-KD has entered India via the Nykaa Fashion e-commerce platform (Courtesy Nykaa Fashion)

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NA-KD, one of Europe's fast-growing companies, has become the latest international brand to enter India via the Nykaa Fashion e-commerce platform. Offering a range of clothes and accessories meant for work and leisure, the Swedish brand's focus is on creating sustainable products, including coats, jackets, shoes and dresses, that are also trendy and affordable. 

As NA-KD's co-founder Jarno Vanhatapio says, “Sustainability doesn't need to be boring. It can be very fashion forward.”

Also read: Want to make fashion sustainable? Make it accessible, verifiable


NA-KD's co-founder Jarno Vanhatapio.
NA-KD's co-founder Jarno Vanhatapio. (Courtesy Nykaa Fashion)

In a Zoom interview with Lounge, NA-KD's co-founder Jarno Vanhatapio and Nykaa Fashion's chief executive officer Adwaita Nayar talk about the vision they have for the fashion label, the Indian market and future plans. Edited excerpts: 

Why India? Isn't it an already crowded apparel market?

Jarno Vanhatapio: The brand started six years ago, and fashion was already crowded at that point but still, we managed to scale quickly in Europe to more than $300 million dollars in six years in net revenue. It is a crowded market in India as well, but we do feel that we are coming with an offering that has already proven to have some traction. We have over four million social media followers in total, and we know that a bunch of them are from India. So yes, we do think that we are going to offer something unique to the market.

Who's your target audience?

JV: In Europe, it's called the It girl, or the kind of the most influential girl in a group. We've worked with thousands of influencers, and we see that same kind of group of 18- to 35-year-old females that are online savvy, digital-first, fashion-forward. On the back of those individuals, we have built the brand. We also move downwards in the fashion pyramid and reach the masses with value for money, and be someone who has always been sustainable. That's what we are known for.

How are you keeping it sustainable?

JV: Over 60% of the products we released during 2021 were made with sustainable materials in a sustainable way. We also have this secondhand offering, called NA-KD Circle. Basically, we help our customers to resell their old items via our platform to other customers, and we are paying back with store credits and also money. 

Are you using the same design language for Indian customers as you are for European? 

JV: I do believe that we come with a Western and international digital look that matches Indian tastes. India is such a big country that if we talk about those fashion-forward Instagram-savvy generation of fashionistas, we are, you know, a perfect fit. Having said that, we are doing local adaptations as well. We will offer curated content and styles that are based on the Indian data we have and the sales data we will soon get. We are an organization built upon data knowledge. So, yes, we will also support our international style with the domestic flavour.

Nykaa Fashion's chief executive officer Adwaita Nayar
Nykaa Fashion's chief executive officer Adwaita Nayar (Courtesy Nykaa Fashion)

Adwaita, what made you go for NA-KD?

Adwaita Nayar: I've been following the brand for a very long time. And I've been a huge fan personally of the quality, the style, the trendiness, the collaborations, everything is absolutely bang on. Our mission is to really bring the greatest brands from the world to the country, and allow Indian women to have access to that. NA-KD fits perfectly in our plans.

What are your plans for Nykaa Fashion?

AN: I think Nykaa Fashion started with the insight that Indian women don't have enough brands. One of the first questions you asked was, isn't the market crowded, I would argue against it. I think Indian women simply don't have enough choice. The existing platforms that are in the market are very discount driven. I think fashion has to start with trend and styling. Of course, people will be value conscious, but the conversation doesn't have to stop there. We spoke to brand partners, and we heard from them that they don't have a platform in the country where they can tell their brand story, where they can sell full price merchandise. So after hearing all of this, we crafted our positioning. 

Nykaa Fashion is also focusing a lot on sustainable fashion. 

AN: I think that is where the millennial and Gen Z consumer are headed. As Jarno said, you have to tick a lot of boxes for today's millennial to get impressed. As a retailer, one thing you can do on the sustainability side is to find brands that are sustainable and give them a platform. Obviously, we also have brands that are less sustainable, but being a platform that highlights and educates and informs the brands that do a great job is something we're very focused on. 

Also read: Fashion is about clothes, not the showstopper, says Tarun Tahiliani

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