When I walk into Prévu’s East London studio there is an air of controlled chaos about the place. It’s late afternoon on a Friday and the team is about to drop the brand’s latest collection of sliders. Minutes before they send the products live Jake Hall, the brand’s founder and CEO, decides to run an ad hoc promotion offering the first 20 purchasers a free fragrance. He then live streams a video to his followers announcing the drop, as casually as one would if they were simply FaceTiming a friend, before scouting around the studio looking for a suitably presentable hat to wear while juggling the shoes for an off-the-cuff promotional Boomerang.
Founded in 2015, it is this casual, more personal, approach to business – where decisions that would require multiple levels of approval in a large company are made in seconds – that has made Prévu (meaning, somewhat ironically, ‘planned’ in French), a success. Four years in Hall remains its front man, starring in campaigns and designing collections around his favourite destinations. And, despite being stocked in Selfridges, Farfetch and Browns, much of the brand’s sales are leveraged through a combined 406k strong Instagram following which delights in Prévu’s numerous celebrity fans – including Bella Hadid, Delle Ali, Stormzy and Liam Payne. Here the 28-year-old shares his advice for starting a business in the digital age…
I tried to become a pro-footballer but when I realised I wasn’t going to make it in the big leagues I moved on to fashion. People always asked me about my clothes but I had zero background. At the start it was just me and a girl in my garage who was very new to making garments. The first batch that went out had holes in and fell apart but I learned on the job – quickly.
Growing up I wore a lot of Lanvin – I couldn’t afford it really but I used to save up for the trainers. I wanted to start a brand that was at that level but more affordable. Our first products were smart tracksuits for wearing to a restaurant or bar. I didn’t like the term tracksuit, though, so we borrowed the term ‘twinset’ from womenswear and now it seems to be everywhere.
"At the start it was just me and a girl in my garage who was very new to making garments."
I think the fashion industry is moving towards fast turnarounds, regular styles and limited units. We drop 24 styles a month limited to between 50 and 500 units. They now sell out in days which is incredible. We’ve also started testing the water with deconstructed tailoring and womenswear and they’re selling really well. I would love to dress Post Malone – I think we have some styles he’d go for.
Instagram has changed the game dramatically. Huge high street companies are on the down because Instagram has allowed young and emerging brands to come through. There is more competition but without social media I would have found it very hard to enter this industry. I speak to customers a lot through DMs and comments and it gives me great insight. They make the brand – when you can speak to your customer directly you shouldn’t be able to fail.
The most important thing about running a business is to have the right people around you and get them all working together. We’ve faced lots of challenges but the most difficult part was having a lorry containing thousands of pounds worth of goods stolen at a very early stage. That really tested us professionally and mentally.
My advice to young entrepreneurs would be to not listen to too many people and just go for it. At the beginning everyone wants to tell you it’s not going to work but if you believe in yourself and your ideas then just do it. I didn’t start the brand by talking about it. I started it by getting my first product made. Once you’ve got a product you can go and get orders and make more products. I was never really great in school, for me it was about understanding customers and what people wanted.
We’re trying to crack America this year so there’s not a lot of down time right now – I don’t really switch off. I listen to Gary Vaynerchuck for business inspiration but I also use Headspace and am going to start yoga, apparently it’s life changing.
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