From Triumph To Tragedy: The Nasty Gal Story

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The L.A. goth-chic scene days may be gone, but we’re not ready to say goodbye to the empire created by the OG #GIRLBOSS Sophia Amoruso. The bankruptcy of a thriving $85 million revenue-generating company took fashion and business enthusiasts by surprise. Some may even say the future is a little foggy for Nasty Gal after British retailer Boohoo’s purchase of the brand. However, the biggest question still posed is how did a once fashion world darling turn into ashes in the blink of an eye?

If you’re a social media junkie, you may remember the uprising of the brand like it was just yesterday. Pieces flaunted by fashion icons such as Kylie Jenner and Miley Cyrus quickly caught the attention of trend devotees. Business was booming with an 11,200% increase in sales from 2008 to 2011 and another increase jumping into 2012. But as 2014 rolled around, sales started dropping by the millions according to bankruptcy documents, which was the opposite of the $300 million in sales predicted by Forbes.


After analysts reviewed the business aspects of the brand, it was clear that Nasty Gal diminished because of problems that many start-ups experience. Aside from social media, the rapid growth of the eBay store blossomed from huge spending in marketing and advertising, which had little success in return. The quality of products slowly downgraded as well, with the transformation from vintage pieces to fast-fashion. Overall, Amoruso’s CEO ethics seemed to lack the balance of creativity and business, as she focused more on the brand’s image than numbers. It was the tidal wave of an e-commerce brand attempting to merge into physical realms beyond its reach that eventually drowned its business.

It’s a little too early to predict the future of Nasty Gal and Amoruso’s next move after releasing a new book, podcast, #GIRLBOSS rally and basically closing the door on what made her career. It’s also a bit confusing after she hit the “Richest Self-Made Women List” with a $28 million fortune by Forbes. Maybe readers should’ve paid more attention to the last paragraph announcing Nasty Gal’s second round of layoffs. Either way, Boohoo’s plans to keep the brand strictly online while maintaining the relationship of long-time consumers and those who will emerge gives a glimpse of hope.

If one thing’s for sure, this is not the last of Nasty Gal and Sophia Amoruso’s legacy. The business problems she faced were not unusual to the niche market she entered. Netflix’s new series launching later this year will showcase these triumphs and tragedies based on her business philosophy and memoirs. There’s no doubt Amoruso will continue to be the #GIRLBOSS we all know and adore as she moves on to new endeavors. Both have come a long way and made a mark in the fashion world.

Now we ask: so, what next?


Images courtesy of Nasty Gal and LA Mag.

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