For an influencer, it's pretty easy math: Why make millions of dollars for someone else's brand, pocketing a mere percentage of the profits, when you could make millions of dollars for your own brand? Italian blogger Chiara Ferragni lead the charge with her line, raking in big bucks in the process, and it didn't take long for others to follow; Danielle Bernstein launched Second Skin Overalls, Leandra Medine started Man Repeller shoes — now rebranded in Medine's own name — and Julia Engel created a line of dresses dubbed Gal Meets Glam. (In addition, Instagram stars have made it big in the booming swimwear category, from Tash Oakley and Devin Brugman's brand Monday Swimwear to Shea Marie's SAME label.)
The latest street style star to throw her hat in the retail ring is Chriselle Lim. Like so many influencers before her, the idea started when Lim collaborated with another brand on a capsule collection. When her collab with J.O.A. took off this past spring, Nordstrom — who can't seem to get enough of these influencer collections lately — approached Lim to do her very own line. It was a no-brainer.
"Nordstrom is just such a great partner because they really understand the power and the importance of digital — I think they just get it," Lim says at an exclusive preview of the collection in the penthouse of the Peninsula Hotel. "There's just so much history behind the company and to be able to have my very first collection in a Nordstrom exclusively, for me, that's a dream come true; it's a stamp of approval."
Lim readily admits that she doesn't have a background in fashion design, but says that she knew immediately what kind of collection she wanted to create. She envisioned clothes fit for the modern, young career woman; someone who might follow her for style ideas, but who needs something as practical as it is fashionable. The resulting debut line for The Chriselle Lim Collection features 20 pieces that deliver on that promise, from a classic camel coat with a trend-forward belt to a sweater with a tie feature that takes it from a more traditional style to a cropped look with one pull.
"For me, I always struggle looking for pieces to wear to meetings; I would always have to scramble between different brands and find little pieces here and there, but there was really no one brand that I went to that felt like I could just go to for all of my professional wear," Lim explains. "We wanted to take a spin off of the working woman, but in more of a modern, cool way of how the street girl would actually wear it — so maybe it's a trench coat with sneakers or a suit with boots."
The price point is working woman-friendly, too: pieces range from $59 to $189. "It's still affordable, but they're able to wear that beautiful trench coat over and over again throughout the season and even next season because it's not trend driven, it's more classics," she explains. Unlike other recently launched influencer lines, however, the sizing isn't as inclusive, maxing out at an XL, or about a 14.
Still, Lim feels confident she knows what her followers are looking for in workwear — after all, they've been loyally following her for eight years now. "I knew that if I designed a collection of pieces that I would wear to my office and people knew that they could wear it too, it will do instantly well," she explains, noting that while people love the "fantasy" ballgown moments, it's her "authentic self" posts that perform best. She's hoping to capture that feeling for the women who buy her collection, too.
"If I actually see people wearing these pieces out to their jobs and they're tagging me in their photos, it's those little moments of, okay, I served my purpose of being able to create a collection where women feel confident, where they're not blowing all of their money," Lim says.
See The Chriselle Lim Collection debut lookbook ahead of the line's launch at Nordstrom on Sept. 13.