Coat by Fomme. Trousers by FOMME. Available at www.vervlondon.com
Fashion Stylist Lewis Robert Cameron chats to Sannu Shresta, Managing Director of London based e-tailer VERV LONDON. An online destination tearing down the traditional boundaries between menswear and womenswear. Turning heads and serving looks, Verv London celebrates individuality and self expression, presenting gender fluid realness with major defying- the-norm vibes from emerging designers from all over the world. Whoever said you couldn’t challenge the natural laws of society whilst looking head to toe like Grace Jones’ sensationally dressed offspring? #WerkChilde #GenderFuck
KALTBLUT: Tell me a little bit about how VERV LONDON came to be and how it all started?
VERV: The idea of VERV LONDON goes back to my own personal style and approach to fashion. I’ve always been quite fluid in my gender expression and dressed in a mix of menswear and womenswear. When I moved to London about 5 years ago, I was living in East and going out to places like Vogue Fabrics, Sink the Pink, Dalston Superstore and I found a community of people who had a similar style and sensibility. So I had the idea to create a retail platform to celebrate gender fluid fashion and encourage more people to dress to convey their individuality and personal style. At the time, I was working a corporate job and feeling quite bored by the work, so I decided to take the plunge and quit my job to start VERV LONDON!
KALTBLUT: What was your reason to tailor your customer base to what many might call quite a niche demographic?
VERV: Gender fluid fashion may be a bit niche now but it represents the future. I truly believe that gender fluid fashion isn’t simply a passing fad or trend but something more fundamental. The new generation of fashion consumers are challenging gender norms and restrictive dress codes and an increasing number are identifying as transgender, gender fluid or non-binary. Fashion has to reflect this new reality where people are not defined by their gender and are free to live and dress however they want without conforming to conventional norms.
KALTBLUT: How would you describe the VERV LONDON customer?
VERV: I don’t think we have a “typical” customer as each of the brands that we stock has a very specific fan base! But overall, our customers tend to be quite young with adventurous and individualistic style. The biggest surprise for us has been the sheer geographic diversity of our online customers. We get a lot of orders from East Asia, the Middle East, America and even Australia and South Africa! It has been incredibly encouraging to see people from so many different parts of the world embrace our brands and our message.
KALTBLUT: Are there any fashion icons who inspire the VERV LONDON style?
VERV: The one and only: GRACE JONES.
KALTBLUT: What makes a brand stand out to you? For example, brands that you stock like Palomo Spain etc how do you decide to bring them under the VERV umbrella?
VERV: As a gender fluid retailer, it is important for us to stock designers who fit our social and creative narrative, brands that are examining and questioning traditional conceptions of masculinity and femininity in authentic and meaningful ways. We also exclusively feature independent and emerging young designers and are the first worldwide or UK stockist for most of our brands. Diversity and inclusiveness are the core values of VERV LONDON – we choose brands that represent different countries and cultures and we are proud that 100% of our brands are led by LGBTQ+ and/or female designers.
KALTBLUT: What advice would you give to people who want to experiment more with the clothes they wear?
VERV: Style is very personal, so I think the only advice I would give is to be true to yourself and not let outside pressures dictate your choices. If you try on something and love it and think you look good in it, don’t let the gender label stop you from wearing it. There is nothing more empowering than wearing clothes that express your true self without giving a damn about what others may think.
KALTBLUT: If you had to take three items from your current stock to a deserted Island which three items would you pick?
KALTBLUT: What are your favourite pieces from the upcoming new season?
VERV: I am absolutely obsessed with the “George” boots from Syro. They are just so beautifully made with the perfect pointy toe and a killer 3-inch heel. I also love the Plissé Jumpsuitfrom Fomme – it is so silky and drapes your body perfectly and the cut-out shoulders are really sexy.
KALTBLUT: If VERV LONDON was an ice-cream, what flavours would it be and why?
VERV: Hmmmm. Maybe the Charcoal Coconut flavour from Soft Serve Society. It looks a bit strange at first but is absolutely delicious and addictive – not too sweet and oh so creamy. Apparently, the activated charcoal also whitens your teeth and has additional health benefits. VERV LONDON also looks and feels different from other retailers but if you try us, you will be addicted! We can’t guarantee any health benefits though.
KALTBLUT: You recently launched the Gender Fuck tote bag, are there any more plans to release more limited edition designs?
VERV: Absolutely. We are planning to release more in-house items in 2019 with a focus on more accessible pieces to complement the collections of our designer brands. We are collaborating with artists and designers to create limited edition artwork and pieces so stay tuned!
KALTBLUT: What inspired you to create the Gender Fuck tote?
VERV: We created the Gender Fuck tote bag to coincide with the opening of our first pop-up store here in London. The theme of our pop-up was Gender Fuck because we really wanted to make a statement about what makes us different from other fashion retailers. Whether in a physical or online store, clothing is almost always segregated as either menswear or womenswear and we wanted to fuck with this false dichotomy.
KALTBLUT: What do you think makes VERV LONDON unique?
VERV: Fashion retail is still dominated by gender binaries with both physical and online stores divided into “men’s” and “women’s” clothing. We present fashion without assigning gender labels and our online store is the first to feature every garment on female, male, transgender or non-binary model duos. Our online presentation is an extremely important way to break down barriers that exist mentally when it comes to clothing and we hope our visuals encourage our customers to experiment with their style and to dress to reflect their individuality and not social expectations.
KALTBLUT: Finally, what can we expect to see from VERV LONDON in the near future?
VERV: We hope to grow vervlondon.com as the go-to platform for gender fluid fashion. We are adding incredible new designers to our platform each season, we are particularly excited about our roster of new brands for Spring/Summer 2019. We will be opening pop-up stores in various locations every few months and we also plan to offer a full in-house range of accessible genderfluid clothing and accessories in the near future.