Art of Style

Meet the creators of Tove – 2020’s breakout fashion brand

All dresses, Tove

Launched in 2019, TOVE has already gained a cult following of stylish women across the globe, thanks to its minimalist and timeless take on modern femininity. Here, founders and friends CAMILLE PERRY and HOLLY WRIGHT discuss how they became the dream team behind the iconic London brand

Fashion

Despite launching their fashion label, Tove, just two years ago, founders Camille Perry and Holly Wright have pulled off a coup that most businesses, both fledgling and well-established, could only aspire to – celebrating their most successful season ever in 2020. However, while Tove may have quickly achieved cult status thanks to its clean, contemporary take on femininity – becoming a firm favorite with sartorial tastemakers such as TyLynn Nguyen, Christie Tyler, Monikh Dale and Fong Min Liao – its stellar year wasn’t merely the result of faultless design, but also Perry and Wright’s business prowess.

Camille Perry (left) and Holly Wright

Perry and Wright first met at Topshop (once the lifeblood of the British high street), as head of buying and head of design, respectively, and had been toying with the idea of striking out on their own for years before they took the plunge. But far from regretting this hesitance, in hindsight, Wright believes that this prolonged incubation period merely proved that their dream could go the distance. “We just talked about it for a couple of years, fleshing out the details and looking at the market – the fact it continued to be the right idea for so long really cemented the fact that we needed to give it a shot.” Fast-forward to the eve of its second anniversary and Tove is clearly just at the beginning of a towering upward trajectory.

For Perry, keeping their ‘woman’ front of mind is key to the label’s continued success. “We think about how she wants to present herself and what she really needs from her closet – that is what shapes and forms the collection.”

Read on the discover how this dynamic duo continue to build one of the industry’s most successful new labels…

On turning teamwork into an art form

Holly: We met a long time ago, when we were both working together at Topshop. People used to call us the dream team!

Camille: We worked together for seven years as buyer and designer of the dresses department, but, even before that, we’d collaborated on Kate Moss for Topshop and some other projects. Holly and I are very similar in our mindset and our outlook

H: That's an understatement!

C: When we worked together at Topshop, people always used to comment on how in sync we were. Our dynamic has always been very symbiotic and intuitive. That’s probably why we gravitated towards each other – and it’s still the way we work now. Our backgrounds are buying and design, but because we’re a small company, we also have to spread our arms around every other facet of the business – and we make all our decisions together. We constantly bounce ideas back and forth.

On the genesis of the brand

C: We really felt there was something missing from the fashion landscape. The disparity and gap between accessible and luxury brands seemed to be getting wider and wider – particularly in terms of price, quality and aesthetic.

H: We were looking for a label that was modern and clean, but not so stripped back it was androgynous. Introducing that modern femininity was really important to us, because that’s what we felt was really missing. There weren’t any labels doing femininity in a balanced, wearable way.

L-R: all clothing, Tove

C: The Tove woman is a lot like us; she has her career going on and she’s also juggling family, friends, events and holidays. She lives a full, busy life and she knows what she wants from her wardrobe. Our collections are really built on giving our community the kind of modern, refined and feminine pieces that they can throw on at any time; pieces that really complement every dimension of their lives. That versatility is really key to us.

H: Our designs are also really considerate of women’s bodies – and there aren’t actually many other labels that can say that.

C: The test for every design is whether it would flatter us both, despite the fact that Holly is tall and I’m petite. We spend a lot of time actually thinking about how women are formed and what’s going to make every woman feel empowered and amazing.

On the realities of running a business

H: To get a business off the ground, create cash flow and really take your vision where you want to with the money that’s available to you is really difficult. You have to focus your resources in all the right places. We invest heavily in our imagery, because it’s one of the best assets you can have when it comes to promoting a label.

C: We were really fortunate that when we started the brand, we had family and friends who were willing to invest. Since then, we’ve been really focused on driving the business in order to self-finance. That’s alongside designing the collections, overseeing the creative direction and managing the finances. It’s a lot of juggling.

H: A lot of the time, you can see an opportunity or area where you could grow the business even further, but sometimes the finances just won’t allow you to explore the idea, which can be really frustrating.

C: My advice to aspiring entrepreneurs would be to make sure there’s a real need for whatever it is you’re offering. If it really does fill a gap in the market, then it’s guaranteed to get people’s attention.

Dress, Tove

On the lessons of 2020

Dress, Tove

H: The scale of our operation gave us a real advantage when it came to navigating our way through the past year. We were just lucky to be at a point where we were small enough to change and adapt to the challenges we faced. The team was basically just Camille and me!

C: We were able to pivot. We had to make some adjustments to the collections and production, but we didn’t have stores or a huge team to manage. We don’t have a massive infrastructure, and that really is what helped us through 2020.

H: 2020 taught us to question everything and really strip back our collections. We always ask ourselves, “Is this piece necessary? Does it work in a variety of ways?” We don’t want to produce clothes for the sake of it; we want everything we do be considered…

C: …and relevant. With each piece, we ask ourselves, “Where is she going in this? Will it work for the beach, dinner, in the office (if we ever go back!), for an event?” We want every piece we create to work really hard for the woman who will be wearing it.

H: ‘Tricky’ is probably our most-used word – and if a piece is too tricky, it just won’t make the cut.

Dress, Tove

On the future of the brand

H: Growing the brand and venturing into new product areas are our priorities right now. We’re looking at categories that feel like a natural extension of the brand, such as knitwear and, eventually, shoes, so that we can complete the ‘look’.

C: The response we’ve received from our community has been so warm and positive, it feels right to bring them more. Really, it’s a case of growing our distribution network, but we want to do it in a really considered way, being mindful to create long-term partners. We don’t want to suddenly be everywhere.

H: We work really instinctively, so if we feel like it’s right, we’ll go for it. That’s how we approach everything we do. But one other thing we really need to do this year is grow our team.

C: Absolutely, there’s a lot we want to achieve – and we’ll need more hands on deck to make it possible.

The people featured in this story are not associated with NET-A-PORTER and do not endorse it or the products shown