The e-tailer brand Pretty Little Thing is on its way to global domination. The online brand sells women’s wear, footwear, accessories and beauty products. Based in Manchester, UK, it is the brainchild of two brothers Umar and Adam Kamani who just happen to be the sons of Kenyan Born Indian billionaire who calls the UK home, Mahmud Kamani. Mahmud moved to UK when he was still quite young when his father Abdullah Kamani flee Kenya with his entire family to escape “draconian” laws that were hostile to “non-native” Kenyans according to reports.
Once in the UK, Mahmud first started with a modest stall in Manchester where he sold women’s handbags and other whatnots on the street side. From there, he and his siblings grew their business step by step into a retail empire. Today, the Kamanis are a force in the retail and apparel business and are founders of the online supersite Boohoo.com (parent company of Pretty Little Thing and Nasty Gal two fashion empires in their own right). Though the Kamanis recently sold the majority stake in Boohoo and own less than 40 percent of its value, they continue to be a force both in the company and in the industry more broadly.
Pretty Little Thing is a global heavy-hitter brand as far as fast fashion retail/é-commerce goes. The Kamanis have established stores in several countries including Australia, Ireland, France and America and they are planning even more expansions, to achieve true global domination.
In 2017 Pretty Little Thing was voted “one of the fastest growing fashion companies” by Hitwise, a company that, according to Wikipedia:
“ provides marketers with online insights to help them understand, track and grow market share. Using Hitwise, marketers can define, understand and target audiences to optimize their multi-channel marketing campaigns.”
Pretty Little Thing is a youthful brand that focuses on youth and youth culture. Google Trends in 2017 showed that the company topped “searches” in that year. Incredibly, the brand outpaced Gucci and Louis Vuitton for online searches in 2017 and according to popular opinion, this was due in large part to their social media presence and high-profile collaborations with celebrities like Kourtney Kardashian and her famous sisters. The Kardashian Effect has been pivotal to the Brand’s broad based appeal and acceptance by millennials and fashion-conscious Gen Z consumers the world over, and the Kamanis are likely very thankful for their endorsement. Says Umar Kamani:
“Kourtney Kardashian is huge. She has a big presence around the world. She comes from one of the biggest families around the world,” said Umar Kamani, who cofounded PrettyLittleThing with brother Adam Kamani in 2012. “Our target customer resonates with her family so well and looks up to that family that working with the Kardashians as a whole is something that has been influential for PLT as a brand.” (LA times).
Other celebrity Pretty Little Thing ambassadors include but are not limited to Kyle Jenner, Hailey Baldwin-Bieber, Maya Jama and Sofia Richie. Singer Ashanti and her sister are said to be working on a swimwear collaboration with the brand as we speak. Clearly, the brand keeps climbing to greater and greater heights in the celebrity world.
The Instagram page of brand Pretty Little Thing is a fun, fascinating adventure if only because of the diversity it showcases. Few brands today seem to understand the power of inclusion whether that is from the standpoint of skin color or body size like Pretty Little Thing does. Case in point is the plethora of curvy models that populate their social media campaigns. Pretty little thing really follows through on its promise to “make every girl feel like a celebrity.” They don’t discriminate because of color and size and you can clearly see that in their marketing campaigns both on and off social media. The brand has a popular podcast to called “Behind Closed Door” to help sell the brand to young consumers as a “best friend brand.”
According to a recent article in Forbes, “PrettyLittleThing made headlines in September 2018 with its #EveryBODYinPLT campaign starring Ashley Graham” as a plus size model. In the same article the brand founder Umar Kamani described the brand as a “fairytale brand.” He added, “as a brand, I want to get into the customers’ hearts, not into the customers’ pockets. And the podcast isn’t a sell — it should be an opportunity for the customer or the PrettyLittleThing fan to learn about their favorite influencers, or the people they follow or take inspiration from. It aims to be an escape from the shopping experience, and to be a way for our fans to get to know the influencers and celebrities they see on social media and go deep with them.”
Kudos to him for these lofty goals.
Another thing that is great about the brand is the accessibility of it. Anyone – even I – can afford Pretty Little Thing things because of the affordable price point. This is not a brand that is trying to be “scarce.” This is not a brand that is trying to be “exclusive.” This is not a brand that is “aspirational,” even though Umar has said that the brand is an aspirational one. Although it depends on what he means. For example, Gwyneth Paltrow says that GOOP is an aspirational brand. And as much as I love her, I cannot afford anything on that website without first saving up for months to buy it. So, for me, aspirational is synonymous with “unaffordable.” Whereas with Pretty Little Thing everything is affordable – even for a teenager (which I am not) who only has babysitting money to spend. To me, this therefore is an acquirable brand, not an aspirational one. But in a good way.
The one area of discrimination that I have noticed with Pretty Little Thing is age. This is the last taboo. Pretty Little Thing is clearly a brand that caters to the YOUNG. In their own description they say it. They are targeting 14 – 24 year olds. Which is interesting since Kourtney Kardashian, one of their principal brand ambassadors, is over 40 years old. At the same time, however, we can all agree that she does look to be not a day older than 22. So maybe it’s not so much that they are targeting adolescents, but they are targeting women who are still in touch with their inner teenaged selves? If so, this is a good thing because from my vantage point, we should all be 21 in our minds until the day we die. Why not.
With that said, though, I still would love to see the brand do a line with an older ambassador to, first of all, be truly inclusive and diverse. But also to encourage ALL women to be young at heart always.
Just one caveat: I don’t personally think that this is the type of brand that any woman would wear exclusively. That is, you can’t have a wardrobe filled with Pretty Little Thing pieces to the exclusion of everything else. Especially “older” types like me who like a little bit of “elegance” in their look. This is not a hugely “elegant” brand. It is a party brand, a fete brand, a “let’s go out and have a good time,” brand. Nothing wrong with that. Just not sure if that is how you want to dress every single day for every single occasion unless you are one of the Kardashians or a Richie or a Baldwin-Bieber.