Loup is one of several fashion labels I've discovered — or at least developed a stronger affinity for — through Instagram. Someone I follow once re-posted a "#loupspiration," a dedicated hashtag for the stylized images of cool women that the brand frequently posts. I now often find myself saving those photos for both haircut and outfit inspiration — Jane Birkin, Brigitte Bardot, Chloe Sevigny, Bianca Jagger, Sofia Coppola, Audrey Hepburn and Jeanne Damas are often featured, along with tons of '90s-era models and perfect movie stills. It's a treasure trove of #aesthetic goals, and if the feed speaks to you, chances are that the brand behind it sells something you want to buy, from sweet little dresses to minimalist overalls.
Los Angeles native Danielle Ribner launched Loup, French for "wolf," in 2009, though it's possible you've never heard of it — Ribner doesn't show during Fashion Week, advertise or do much marketing beyond social media. After attending the University of Washington, Ribner moved to New York to study fashion design at Parsons, then got a job as a design assistant at Jones Apparel Group. "I learned every aspect of the business, which was really useful at that time," she says. "I was like, 'I like fashion but I don't necessarily like all of the jobs that lay ahead of me at this point.' I was young and naive and said, 'Why don’t I go start my own line and see what happens?'"
She stuck to a slow, organic approach to growth, funding the line herself (with help from her family) and not seeking any outside investment. "Our motto is, we're self-funded; if something sells, that's wonderful, and if something doesn't go so well, we can learn from it and go on without having to answer to people," she says. "It's ok to stay small if you're doing it in the right way and you can grow that way." The entire operation is essentially just Ribner and some interns; she outsources things like sales, production and distribution. Everything is made in New York, which is notable especially given the line's affordable price point — everything retails for under $200.
Ribner launched e-commerce right from the beginning and still uses it as a way to sell items that her retail partners — Shopbop, Anthropologie and a number of small local and international boutiques — don't. "Things that sell really well [online] don't necessarily do well in other stores, so it helps [me] learn what people want and what customers are actually going to buy."
She describes her inspiration for the line as "this French Parisian thing that I'd always been into. I'd always been this Francophile and I wanted to start a small brand that had those ideas in it, but with something that was very American, very easy and very wearable." Top sellers right now include her of-the-moment high-waisted, cropped, wide-leg Sabrina pants and low-key, tailored overalls. "I think the thing we're known for is taking items that are a little trendier and making them really flattering and easy to wear — something where you don't feel like you're just being trendy." Plus, she's focused on giving professional women clothes they feel comfortable wearing all week long.
That ethos is carried through Loup's first foray into accessories: a line of uncomplicated-yet-cool microsuede handbags due out next spring, all of which are machine washable and cost less than $100.
As for the future, new categories and a brick-and-mortar store may be on the horizon, but not until it feels right.