Since 2017, London Velvet has been creating truly personalised, handmade bespoke pieces that last a lifetime. Over the next two pages RLI spends some time with company Founder India Clevely as we learn about how the brand came about, what its goals were and continue to be and how it will remain effortlessly chic, elegantly tough and classically strong.
India Clevely established the London Velvet brand with the vision of creating something truly unique, luxurious and personal. She noticed a gap in the market where finding luxury and uniqueness together without breaking the bank was challenging. In an oversaturated accessories market, London Velvet aims to stand out with a strong point of difference.
“Right from the start, we collaborated with exceptional ateliers and sourced the finest materials to ensure our customers could bring the studio experience to their fingertips. We do not believe in creating generic mass-produced product as it fundamentally goes against our zero-waste brand philosophy.”
As London Velvet is a primarily direct-to-consumer business, they do not carry stock and the Founder really values the opportunity to showcase the product in real life. She goes onto say the business has been lucky to be invited to participate in a lot of pop-up opportunities and they are discerning in whom they partner with, ensuring they are aligned with like-minded brands.
The business recently participated in a very successful pop-up day at British clothing brand Mondo Corsini’s summer shop in Notting Hill. They have also participated in several notable Fairs over the years which always perform really well for the brand. Local examples include Spirit of Christmas, Chelsea Physic Garden, Cotswolds Christmas Fair and the Park Fair at the beginning of July.
Looking to the future, Clevely explains that their development pipeline involves a significant expansion into the US market. They have experienced a 20 per cent growth year-on-year in that market since 2021 and her focus for Q3 and Q4 of this year is their international presence.
“It appears that the product is different from what is attainable in the US and the brand name, including London, alongside our exceptional craftsmanship, are both big draws for international business. As for a physical US presence, it is something we are considering as part of our future plans given how well our pop-ups and fairs have performed locally in the UK.”
The US is their primary focus for company growth, however they of course remain open to exploring other markets, especially since they have seen a 15 per cent increase on their international orders.
As we discuss how the company develops new products and maintains its market position, India tells us that, as a discerning buyer herself, she has a strong preference for personal and unique pieces. She goes onto explain that she despises feeling ripped off when making a purchase. With this in mind, her new product ideas and initiatives stem from a personal perspective.
She develops them based on identifying what she cannot find but would genuinely enjoy and find useful, as well as admitting she has a weakness for designs that evoke a delightful sensation. Therefore, London Velvet ensures that everything they produce meets the criteria of being both functional and indulgently delightful.
In the years to come, brand experience in retail will become even more important than ever and this is an area that India believes strongly in. With the product dictating so much of what she believes to be current and cool, the brand experience is hugely important to her and her customers.
“While we have not invested heavily in brand experience so far due to organic growth and budget constraints, we are working on making significant investments in this area as part of our strategy for 2024 and 2025. Our brand revolves around the concept of travel, representing a considered purchase and a lifestyle choice rather than a mere sales pitch,” explains Clevely.
They aim to create a fun, joyful brand that brings a smile to their customer’s faces when they wear their products or spot others wearing them. They want them to feel like they belong to a special ‘in the know’ community.
Embracing the possibilities of social media and utilising the marketing power it possesses, they have recently increased their investment in digital marketing and because of this they have been witnessing steady growth in their social media following. The products of London Velvet resonate particularly well on social media and they have been careful who they engage with in order to build a cult following.
Operating as a zero-waste company, their commitment to sustainability starts with their production process. They operate on a made-to-order basis, ensuring zero-waste. Although this strategy may not be the fastest for customers accustomed to next-day delivery, it aligns with their long-term sustainability aspirations. To balance sustainability and efficiency, they are exploring options to pre-cut certain elements of our bags, reducing lead times. Prioritising the use of the best locally sourced leather that ages beautifully and stands the test of time, the brand is fundamentally against the throwaway society.
Personalisation is what sets London Velvet apart. While many brands offer personalisation options, few can match their hand-stitched leather personalisation. This level of craftsmanship and attention to detail is what truly differentiates the brand alongside their use of colour and genuinely unique but simply practical everyday products. They believe that personalised products create a deeper connection with customers, fostering loyalty and setting them apart from other concepts in their sector.
“Our company ethos revolves around being fun, playful and personal. We strive to bring joy and a sense of uniqueness to our customers’ lives through our products. The personal touch does not just stop at our products, I myself am very close to the overall running of the business and oversee every aspect of the brand, from design to manufacturing to marketing, personally speaking to customers every day to ensure they are getting the very best level of service we can offer,” Clevely highlights.
So what lies ahead and what is the greatest challenge facing London Velvet?
“Expansion is on the horizon and one of the greatest challenges we face is making the right hires to support our growth. It is crucial to find individuals who not only align with our brand values but also deeply understand our vision. It can be challenging to find the right people, but when we do, it is incredibly rewarding to see the company thrive with like-minded individuals on board and I am very excited for the future.”