It’s all about the sleeve.
The sparkle in her eyes when she talks about Néonel is probably the first thing you’d notice if you
talked to Alicja Santarelli, managing director of the brand. It’s her enthusiasm and strong belief in
the idea, that makes you listen fascinated even though you might have wondered about the
concept of selling sleeves, and sleeves only, just a minute before.
Néonel started off as a university project. Six Fashion Management students from London College
of Fashion were inspired by current street style trends: "statement sleeves have been
accentuated on the runways, so we thought, why not only the sleeves"?, says Alicja. The styles of Néonel’s first collection are as diverse as its founders who come from 5 different countries: 2 pairs of sleeves, each from different categories, romantic, sporty and occasional, allow you to add a personal style and transform even the most basic outfit into an eye catcher. "The sleeves transform your whole wardrobe without having to purchase anything but the sleeves", explains the brand’s retail operations director, Petra Jousimies. The name and theme of the brand, neon lights, were inspired by this change of an everyday look to a more extravagant version of it. Neon lights, as they can be found numerously in London, represent the transition from day to night and the
change of looks that come with it.
The way from the original idea to the final product and its sale has not always been easy. The
team knew they wouldn’t have the technical skills to produce the sleeves themselves. So they worked with two talented designers from London College of Fashion on their Spring/ Summer collection. To make their idea come to life and showcase their sleeves, the team also collaborated with two students from London College of Communication, who supported the marketing campaign with photographic and video content.
The answer to the question about the future of Néonel is clear for Alicja: "We are still in the early
stages of developing the brand, but we are all really passionate about it and can’t think of
anything but bringing the brand further".
Or, in Petra’s words: "The brand will not die with the uni project".
models: Daisy Wang, Cherry Cheng, Prisca Kikangala, Iris Värsi
design: Natasha Rae, Christina Awe
photography: Imogen Duffy, Caroline Hajny