Over the summer of 2019 Planet Fashion featured the brand Oh Polly at Miami Swim Week. For the Miami Swim Week fashion shows, our preparation usually begins months prior. We speak with various brands throughout the world and talk about their collections, our pricing and services, but we also spend time getting to know the DNA of a brand. We try to understand who they are and present their particular identity as best we can to our viewers and attendees.
Upon my first conversation with the Oh Polly team I was shocked to discover that they are from Scotland. When you think super sexy swimwear, Scotland doesn’t normally come to mind. They have a complete ready to wear clothing line, and it isn’t just super sexy, the brand is super sexy and super successful. After only launching in 2013 the brand now generates more than 21 million dollars in sales a year. These were the first of many unique things that I would go on to learn about Oh Polly.
Planet Fashion works with all kinds of fashion brands but we have a special commitment to ethical and sustainable design. With that said, on the surface Oh Polly might seem like a typical fast, Instagram driven brand. Yet when you dig deeper it’s anything but.
Oh Polly was founded by Claire Henderson. Claire is another intriguing part of Oh Polly. She is young, gorgeous, and very petite. With no makeup, people might think she’s just a slim young girl, maybe a teenager. Her demeanor is shy, kind, sunny and extremely polite. Upon meeting her you wouldn’t immediately assume you’re in the presence of a business power-house and yet she is.
We work with hundreds of brands and designers, some emerging designers, some famous luxury brands, some designers that were lead designers at luxury brands and some commercial brands. The reality is putting together a successful fashion line and maintaining it is extremely complex. It’s a fascinating marriage between design, money management, marketing and most of all understanding consumers. So many designers and brands truly struggle with implementing all the elements to succeed. Claire Henderson get it. This woman knows how to run a brand, and she does it with such a lovely pleasant attitude.
It might sound like we’re “fan girling” it a bit, but the truth is that Planet Fashion is run by women and we love to tip our hat to other businesses run by women that are thriving. Oh Polly also has a commitment to female leadership, gender equality and flexible working policies.
Perhaps the most astonishing thing about Oh Polly is that the core of its business development began with the intention of giving back. The brand began originally on Ebay, with Claire selling her old clothes to make a charity for Cambodian kids.
After visiting the country and being amazed by both its beauty and its poverty she decided to do something about it. As her Ebay business grew, she became able to open her own website of apparel. The brand now owns factories in Asia. They set up their factories to control worker conditions, prevent child labor, and make sure people work reasonable hours for government-recommended salaries. They also operate a profit share, so 2pc goes to their 520 workers across Bangladesh and China. Their competitors typically buy clothes wholesale. Everything Oh Polly sells is bespoke to the brand.
With their profit they have built schools, created education programs and fed and housed hundreds of children in third world Asia.
Planet Fashion is very active in the sustainable fashion space. Oh Polly is a philosophical paradox because the brand does not use sustainable textiles or slow fashion but it operates from a highly ethical platform.
So often sustainable brands are not able to get past the good intention idea stage and progress those intentions to a state that is actively changing people’s lives or making a big difference globally. It’s more of a “one small step at a time” with regards to major change. And as always we believe that a good intention is the perfect place to start to make a difference.
Oh Polly is doing mass social outreach that is profound but it is coming from an unlikely place, a fun sexy commercial place. A fast fashion ready to wear line that is saving lives, feeding the poor, educating children, promoting women in leadership, creating safe workplaces and giving living wages to their employees.
They’ve set a model that we can all learn from. Perhaps the root of their vast success is good karma.
Oh Polly will have their London Fashion Week debut February 16th2020, for questions regarding their fashion show contact [email protected]
Learn more about Oh Polly and their ethical initiatives here.