Carmen Borgonovo and Joana de Noronha are fashion industry veterans who are putting their experience to good use. The duo founded Borgo de Nor, a London-based fashion brand that primarily offers long, flowing dresses in vibrant floral prints. And in a relatively short period (two years, more or less) they have achieved a good amount of success.
Borgo de Nor has a strong following among Instagram influencers; is stocked in some of the biggest retailers (Net-A-Porter, Matches Fashion and Bergdorf Goodman are a few); and has recently launched an e-commerce platform. Indeed, since founding the label in 2017, Borgonovo and Noronha are steadily growing their company, building out their base of consumers using both traditional wholesale tactics and a digital direct-to-consumer platform that enables them to tell their story and differentiate the brand from others more succinctly.
They have found a balance that has, on a comparative scale, proven fruitful. And though time is the truest measure success, Borgo de Nor is seemingly planting the seeds for a bountiful, log-lasting business.
Here, Borgonovo and Noronha elaborate on how they are looking to flourish in the fashion industry as a new brand.
Barry Samaha: How did your past experiences in the fashion industry prepare you for this venture?
Carmen Borgonovo: We have both worked in the fashion industry for over twenty years. I worked on both the editorial, design and buying side throughout my career and Joana has worked in sales, B2B, for several designer brands, both in-house and at an agency. When we met, we saw a great opportunity to bring both our experience and knowledge together and create our own brand.
Joana de Noronha: Our skills set were a perfect mix and enabled us to get to where we are a lot faster, given that over the years we’ve come to know the industry’s ins and outs, and had access to resources that are not as easily available to those who haven’t worked in the industry prior to launching a brand.
Samaha: What is the meaning behind the name Borgo de Nor and how would you describe the brand overall?
Borgonovo: The name of our brand comes from our two last names Borgonovo and de Norohna. Our brand is bold, colorful, uplifting, empowering, feminine and timeless.
Samaha: Aren’t there brands already that have the same aesthetic? How is Borgo de Nor different from others in the market?
de Noronha: Currently, we don’t feel there are other brands that are similar. We think we stand out in the market due to our timeless shapes, colorful hues and unique artful prints. Our goal is to create dresses that are versatile and can be worn for several occasions just by simply changing your accessories. They can easily transition from day to evening, and are also suitable for all ages. When we launched the collection, we wanted to create a line that celebrates and caters to all different types of women, and our customer’s age varies from early twenties to women in their sixties and seventies. We are absolutely thrilled that all different types of women are wearing our dresses.
Samaha: Why do you think major retailers have picked you up?
Borgonovo: We are beyond pleased major retailers believe in our brand and I think they like the versatility and aesthetic of our designs and our price positioning. We have created a collection that is luxurious, beautifully made and affordable.
de Noronha: Retailers are always looking for newness. When we launched, we were one of the first—if not the first—brand to offer all of the above. That, combined with our story and our point of view, turned out to be a good recipe.
Samaha: As an emerging label, how are you looking to woo consumers?
de Noronha: Our retailers have been incredible partners. And through their support, we have reached many consumers worldwide. Also, through our e-commerce platform, we are focusing on producing both visually strong and engaging branded content that we feel our customers will relate to.
Borgonovo: We have a successful concept called Borgo Girls, in which we shoot and interview inspiring women that share our values and embody the brand. Each Borgo Girl we interview wears one of our dresses in their own way, styled with their personal wardrobe and accessories. This really shows how versatile our collections are, and we’ve found that women in general really connect with the people we spotlight and engage with the brand—especially via social media.
When it comes to reaching new customers, we are focusing on paid social advertising via Instagram and Facebook as well as Google Ad Words. We also believe in organic social media and PR. Influencers are wearing our dresses and support the brand, and in turn, we promote them on our Instagram. This all happens very organically.
Samaha: Do you think it’s harder, as a new brand, to succeed in the fashion industry than ever before? If so, why is that?
Borgonovo: We have had a wonderful start, so it’s very difficult to say. But we do think it’s very important to have a good understanding of who your consumer is and where you want to position your brand when you launch.
de Noronha: The first challenge is to partner with the right stores in each and every market. The second is to consistently deliver great collections that trade well and keep our retailers and end customers happy. So far, we have managed to do both successfully, and we hope to continue to do so by always taking on board the feedback we receive, keeping a close relationship with our partners, and monitoring our sales closely.
Samaha: How is Borgo de Nor being funded?
Borgonovo: We are self-funded.
Samaha: You just launched your e-commerce site. What are the pros and cons of following a direct-to-consumer model, as opposed to wholesale?
de Noronha: We don’t see any cons to launching our e-commerce. It’s a perfect opportunity to tell our story and communicate directly with our customer. We think it also helps our retailers as their loyal customers can better understand our world and our vision through our messaging, which in turn we will lead to more sales overall. The channels are complementary and serve a range of customer types and purchasing behavior.
Samaha: How are you looking to grow the company in the next five years?
Borgonovo: We feel like we are just getting started. Our core dress business has so much more ahead. Over time, we very clearly envision the world of Borgo de Nor which will include launching jewelry, accessories, swimwear, homeware and beauty collaborations.