Co-founded by Amy Whitfield and Rebecca Ward, who are childhood friends having attended Durham High School together since the age of six, NOVO focuses on a slow fashion approach, which aims to create beautiful clothes with wearability and longevity at their core.
Amy says: “The ethos behind the NOVO brand is to deliver interchangeable clothing to modern women with core collections that focus on staple pieces that are made to last. The emphasis is on using premium fabrics and natural yarns to build a capsule collection of timeless wardrobe must-haves.”
Following a financial boost from investors Killian Coyne and model Leanna King, in 2019, Amy and Rebecca have enjoyed further developing their brand.
Amy, Fashion Creative, says: “Each one of our team brings their own unique skills and thinking to everything the brand represents, from the design of collections to branding, vision and position in the industry. Great pride and dedication is always a big part of every action and project within the business, with customer satisfaction being the number one priority.”
Rebecca is Operations Director, bringing with her an excellent knowledge of supply chain management and great relationships with manufacturers.
Rebecca says: “I work closely with Amy on showcasing our collections to worldwide manufacturers for sampling and production, while Amy, a fashion graduate whose portfolio came second in the country at Graduate Fashion Week, manages everything ‘brand’ and ‘design’.”
Amy continues: “My degree in design gives me the foundation to create and market all capsule collections rolled out over seven seasons. It’s also fantastic to have Leanna on board. She started modelling at 13 and fell in love with all things fashion, which led her to study fashion design and textiles for two years at Northbrook College before going to the Fashion Retail Academy in London.”
Leanna says: “Since investing in the business and joining the management team in 2019 I’ve enjoyed spending much of my time in London in my role as Brand Director, acting as the eyes and ears for NOVO down south.”
NOVO’s collections don’t focus on ‘trends’. Amy explains: “Instead we focus on classic silhouettes, precise tailoring and simplistic shapes enhancing the wearability of the garments. Each piece has a minimal aesthetic and neutral colours. Key knitwear pieces have varying classic colourways to complement all skin tones, meaning there is a perfect shade for everyone. Our pieces are designed by women for women and this is a key focus of our NOVO community.
“We aim to design, inform and inspire dressing for the modern woman’s lifestyle, with premium wardrobe essentials that are interchangeable. Through guided style we aim to inspire and educate a more back-to-basics form of dressing. We want our clothes to work harder for our clients. A buy less, buy better approach to fashion. Each collection is timeless, and comes together through careful curation and love for what we do.”
Sustainability is at the heart of what the NOVO team does. Rebecca continues: “We believe in investing in quality pieces and reducing the need to overbuy, which ultimately helps the environment. Whether your priority is quality, versatility, colour scheme, or cuts that flatter your figure, NOVO’s timeless collection has been designed to work with our customers’ needs and to fit their lifestyle.”
Determined to follow a journey of responsibility and sustainability, in 2019, the NOVO team stopped using plastic packaging but moreover, they carefully consider production volumes so as not to create increased waste.
“We also look to work on using more recycled knit to reduce some of the waste created naturally with the production process,” adds Amy.
“Our long term goal is to continue improving our green credentials and look at ways we, as a brand, can positively promote sustainability and offer a way to improve the lifecycle of our garments and our impact on the planet.
“Every piece is created by our in-house creative, women-led team, through their extensive knowledge of what it is to be a woman: work-life balance, and the time constraints of modern life, which inform the pieces which they create. Up here in Durham, we work closely with our manufacturing partners to finalise each sample with quality fabric, timeless silhouettes and attention to detail always in our minds.”
Proud of their North East roots, the NOVO team will continue to run the business from their Durham office. Amy says: “As the team grows and the business expands, we hope to also be able to offer creative job opportunities within the North East. Often fashion jobs are seen to be mainly in bigger cities such as Mancehster and London, but we want to champion our independent brand up here.”
As the NOVO team look to the future, they’d love to be in wardrobes internationally, and to be conveyed as the go-to brand that’s focused on capsule collections built with core hero products, that are different to the trend-focused high street and fast fashion retailers.
Amy concludes: “We’d also love to get our brand into a named department store or online retailer and hope to see NOVO continue to grow and sit alongside and be recognised as one of the best names in the luxury fashion sector.”