Words by Guido Avelino
Stefan Siegel founded what is now the most successful online platform to discover emerging creatives. Not Just A Label has always been more than just a shopping platform, its roots are based on transparency and the intention to propose a new definition to the fashion system as we know it.
NJAL’s innovative network has been supporting up-and-coming talents to find a place in which they can succeed as well as be in direct touch with industry professionals while building a clientele, free of cost, maintaining the brand’s mantra to go against the flow and break moulds.
“The current system does not allow for designers to make mistakes and this is when we miss out on innovation and creativity.”
The struggles that undergo funding and promoting your own brand are boundless but Siegel found potential in the market shortage, and since its inception NJAL have partnered with more than 50.000 designers around the globe—with people from over 150 countries, encouraging artists to expand their horizons and amplify their visibility in a collaborative way.
A category subdivide the designers in three sections, in a rank-based level, accordingly: white, grey and black sheep. Essentially, every creator starts out as a white sheep. The grey sheep pool, however, is made out of the main designers, who are members of the stablished directories, including up-and-coming brands and graduates. The black sheep class—a play on the brand’s logo—represents a curated title for eminent creators who differentiate themselves by inventiveness. NJAL’s team daily tracks the creators steps, keeping record of brands performance and developments. It is a vigorous premise to boost members to keep searching for new achievements and still support their groundings.
As a response to the Covid-19 outbreak
NJAL’s first collection was thought out as a way to still shed some light on designers who had no option but to work from their studios. Thought for and by designers, the first collection pays homage to the community that made history alongside the brand.
The community-based effort in the creative process started with a questionnaire, which was sent out to 1,000 designers in the NJAL network asking for specifications on what they were looking for in a collection thought out for them. Some of the key elements that made the final list were: comfort, practicality, sustainability, and minimalism. The collection was then curated by multi-faceted fashion and product designer Hande Sadic, who has previously collaborated with household names that goes from Alexander McQueen and Victoria Beckham to Finnish textile and accessory brand Marimekko, and Greek designer and “queen of prints” Mary Katrantzou.
As a result, an 8-piece collection that consists of modern and functional basics was developed. The pieces come in five colors (eco orange, rubia, leafy green, off-white, and black) and each piece is designed with utility details, reaffirming its design significance. Some of the details include hidden pockets for scissors and headphones as well as reinforced compartments for notepads and various other designer goods that might be found throughout their studios.
The fabric used is a mixture of recycled and organic cotton, and the dyeing process was all natural using only botanical sources that go from tree bark to dissected flowers. All garments took production in Portugal, as a highly limited collection to eliminate waste production and potential overstock.
The Collection No1 is available on NJAL’s website.
All images are courtesy of Not Just A Label.