Story by Tori Radday
In 2011, Bela Shehu gave Philadelphia its first ever true design house: NINObrand. Five years later and NINObrand is still the only fashion brand that exists like it in Philadelphia. Shehu explains “the brand is a true design house in the city. We do everything A-Z in house. From marketing, promoting, photography, sales, development to production.” NINObrand is a refreshing change from the fast fashion retailers that are becoming increasingly more overwhelming.
Shehu, founder and designer for NINObrand, has spent much of her life making clothing for herself and explains that the development of her brand came naturally. She launched her first collection when she was 22 and has been designing ever since then. Summed up, NINObrand “is genuine, it’s intelligent. It caters to a sophisticated person with an open mind in which exploration is important. It’s a full lifestyle experience” as explained by Shehu.
In the past five years, NINObrand has garnered enormous success in Philadelphia as a women’s ready-to-wear brand. Shehu’s designs effortlessly combine modern and classic into very functional, wearable clothing. Shehu aptly describes her design process as “making art that one could wear.” Her flawlessly stylish designs do indeed serve as works of art.
When designing, Shehu is drawn to the elements of shape and function in particular. Her unique manipulation of shape is one of the elements that makes NINObrand such a unique brand. Shehu steers away from trends and explains that her customers aren’t interested in following trends but rather setting them.
Shehu caters to a unique set of customers that one would describe as effortlessly cool. She doesn’t focus on targeting a certain demographic but rather states that she attracts customers of a certain lifestyle. Her target customer can best be described as an independent thinker who has interests in traveling and the discovery process. Her customers want to know of the restaurants, hotels, vacation spots and art that most people do not know. Her customer is ahead of the game so to speak; she discovers the coolest things before other people become aware of them.
Shehu has recently worked on expanding her brand through a private stylist program. Through this program, Shehu will be able to show and sell her brand through various different cities in the country.
There are several exciting things in the future for NINObrand. Shehu has recently collaborated with a few other key figures in the industry such as a hotel and a well-known fashion blogger. NINObrand supporters can look forward to seeing the results of those collaborations in the near future. Additionally, Shehu just launched a shoe collection with a shoe boutique that was awarded best in the country.
The NINObrand Atelier is located at 333 S. 20th Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103. If you’re interested in checking out Shehu’s breath-taking designs, you can set up a private appointment to view her collection through the brand’s website.