Nayna McIntosh believed she had spotted a gap in the market when she launched online retailer Hope Fashion in 2015: producing elegant, relaxed clothes for women in their 50s and older.
After several decades working at some of the UK’s largest clothing retailers, McIntosh – who is now 60 – felt older women were being ignored by mainstream brands, despite often having more disposable income.
“I wanted to unashamedly target a 50-plus woman who is cognisant of the changes her body goes through, and designing products accordingly,” McIntosh says. Those products available on the website include pleated skirts and wrap tops in jewel colours.
Despite growing its customer numbers by more than 160% year-on-year in 2022, and with hopes of breaking even in 2024, the retailer has struggled to secure crucial investment.
Two investors, who have previously supported the business, unexpectedly pulled out of its latest fundraising effort earlier in January.
Now Hope Fashion has taken the unusual move of appealing to its 20,000 customers to open their wallets for a reason other than adding to their wardrobes: McIntosh is asking them to donate £100 or more to rescue the business from imminent collapse.
McIntosh – who was part of the team which launched the George at Asda fashion label with George Davies in the 1990s, and helped to launch the Per Una range at Marks & Spencer – regularly engages with her customers through question and answer or styling sessions on social media.
She says this has resulted in an ”incredibly loyal customer base”, and this seems to be supported by the company’s average score of 4.8 stars on consumer rating website Trustpilot, with the overwhelming majority of reviewers (89%) awarding the brand the top five-star rating.