Cardi B’s climbing her way up, professionally speaking, but she’s not above a bargain fashion moment.
The brash rapper regularly shouts out the online retailer Fashion Nova, along with La La Anthony and other celeb hawkers for the fast-fashion phenom that owes its rapid success to their high profiles and a stable of lesser-known bloggers and stylists who amp up the company’s hype on Instagram.
To paying customers, especially hard-to-fit ones, Fashion Nova symbolizes a revolution in terms of access to trendy, affordable clothes. To detractors, the Los Angeles-based company that took off around 2014 and has a handful of brick-and-mortar stores is popular amongst teens and millennial-ish women.
One thing is sure: The marriage is solid between the company and enthusiasts under the unifying #NovaBabe and a unique pride more frenetic than that for larger competitors that include Zara, Forever 21 and H&M.
Skinny and well-ripped jeans are Fashion Nova staples, along with skimpy shorts, cropped and plunging two-piece sets, and asphyxiatingly tight, truly strappy and ultra-lacy dresses of all kinds, but also basics like sneakers, roomy sweaters and an array of inexpensive accessories.
There’s a sexy flash to the NovaBabe, including plus sizers who feel underserved when it comes to trends.
“They want to be, like, super fast — faster than stores like Forever 21 and Charlotte Russe and all those anchor stores in the mall,” Texas fashion YouTuber Ose Prather says. “These days, people just love trends, and they want things fast and they want to be noticed a lot more than in the past. Fashion Nova is dropping new clothes, like, every week.”
She’s not kidding. The company cranks out 600 to 900 new designs weekly with the help of a staff of about 600 as it stalks what’s popular on social media in the moment.
Celebrity stylist June Ambrose calls Fashion Nova “the new Gap,” only seriously sexed up. But “basic” isn’t really the right word for the styles they sell, she said.
“It has liberated individuals into expressing their sexuality in an overtly provocative way. It makes it really simple for girls who are very proud of their bodies,” Ambrose says.
Richard Saghian, founder and CEO of Fashion Nova, called it the “fastest of the fast.” Of Cardi B, he says she started shouting out Fashion Nova as a customer about two years ago and is now a partner, paid in free clothes, along with other influencers of the company’s choosing.
Renee Cafaro, editor of the plus-size fashion magazine Slink, says the beauty of Fashion Nova is its ability to generate social media buzz. It’s everywhere, especially among the hard to fit, she says. Purchases are shipped with postcards declaring, “We (heart) the Gram,” urging customers to post photos of their new duds with the NovaBabe hashtag.
“Word of mouth is where they excel. But also they have the largest selection of trendy fast fashion for plus,” Cafaro says. “They always have a myriad of different trends going on at the same time. If you see it on Cardi B today you’re going to get it on Fashion Nova very, very soon.”