We speak to Usman Zia, co-founder of UJNG, and McGuire Brown, Creative Director of OrientationNYC, to learn more about their recent collaboration and get their insights on the future of the fashion industry. UJNG (for those wondering, each letter is pronounced individually), is a globally sourced, North London based boutique which began life as an online store and has been expanding far and wide ever since. UJNG’s boutique in Shoreditch is a must-go location for people who love inventive, innovative and independent luxury designer fashion brands. Showcasing a stylish and spacious shopping space, the atmosphere is calm with a casual approach, while being an absolutely beautifully curated experience, with knowledgeable and passionate members of staff who are always willing to go the extra mile.
(Imagery courtesy of UJNG Instagram)
UJNG’s signature identity is one of clean lines and elegance without being stuffy. As Usman explained, “an environment where new emerging designers who produce innovative design with quality fabric can flourish.” UJNG doesn’t play favourites, all of their brand collaborations bring something new to the table, combined with dedicated craftsmanship, which when carefully curated in store, genuinely connects with the client – “All of our partnered brands are exciting with and unique in their own way” Usman adds.
Sidestepping several preconceptions about what a fashion boutique should be, and its typical clientele – UJNG is for everyone and connects to “anyone who seeks emerging innovative design. People who want to wear luxury clothing, but whilst stepping away from the widely known luxury brands” – with designers LuByLu, OudeWaag, Song For The Mute, Grounds, and Ziggy Chen being among their impressive collection.
Based in London and New York, OrientationNYC, is a creative consultancy which was founded by McGuire Brown earlier this year. Brown wanted to create a hub to seek out and shine a light on young creative collectives, bringing their work into the focal point. OrientationNYC specialises in marketing and creative direction for independent brands and artists. The artists that OrientationNYC collaborate with sit perfectly alongside UJNG’s innovative and boundary pushing ethos, thus a collaboration was born.
Digging deeper into this new venture, McGuire Brown explains “As our first active collaboration as a collective, it was beyond exciting to gather local talent/artists to collaborate on a brand that aligns with our vision and let us create a campaign that highlights our strengths.” UJNG have provided a sense of direction that fused the ideas of the two organisations but whilst keeping both companies’ identities visible.
The stylistic and graphic inspiration for this creative partnership is undeniably minimalistic – with the team at UJNG having executed perfectly a clean and sleek approach to highlight and elevate the independent designers selected. “We were grabbing inspiration from UJNG’s Shoreditch store but adding a graphic twist to replace the usually modern images with numerous visuals & components to attract the eye.”
Diversity has consistently been an important factor in UJNG’s business model, and this collaboration with OrientationNYC is no exception. A point of difference for UJNG has invariably been in supporting independent designer brands, as well as advocating for diversity within the design teams. Usman explains, “We want to represent a wide range of brands and bring a variety of ideas into our store; we work with lots of brands from Asia and Africa. We want UJNG to be a melting pot of creativity across the world”. UJNG show us that the best way to champion diversity within this project, is to ensure their partnered brands are just as inclusive. “The majority of our clients are discovering a different approach to luxury fashion through the stories behind the design. There is a lot more fashion than the big luxury brands, and part of our business model is educating clients on the brands that we carry.”
Dipping in and out of lockdowns over the past year has been a struggle for many businesses, but luckily and beating the odds, UJNG has thrived, as Usman shares – “Trade has been good. Our local clients came back to visit us as soon as we reopened. We also have new customers who found us online during lowdown and wanted to see what UJNG was about.”
In the pandemic’s aftermath, many major department stores and boutiques have changed their sustainability strategy by introducing different forms of upcycling and recycling to reduce waste. Always ahead of the curve, UJNG have consistently kept sustainability at the forefront of their business model. “We have always embraced sustainability by offering quality pieces that are ethically made. We try to stay away from fast fashion spiral and encourage their clients to build a timeless wardrobe. We also offer carbon free shipping via DHL to reduce carbon footprint.” For UJNG, sustainability is undoubtedly an opportunity rather than a challenge.
What’s next for UJNG? The possibilities are endless – with UJNG co-founder reveling in the boutique’s achievements so far, “We have grown from an online only business, to having a physical store in London. We always strive to expand the company and will do so by adding more brands and locations.”
Clearly UJNG are a market leader in the curation of emerging designer brands and their Redchurch Street store is a must-see in Shoreditch. This collaboration with OrientationNYC shows UJNG’s commitment to showcasing the best in new luxury fashion and we’re sure this is a sign of much more to come.