While the face mask is undoubtedly the most in-demand accessory of 2020, another item has bubbled up to the top of the collective consumer consciousness: the Nap Dress.
The garment has taken social media by storm this summer, with data from Google Trends showing interest in the term increasing 20-fold since January. It’s not a nightgown, which is best associated with grandmothers and films set in the 19th century, and it’s not a dress—it’s somewhere in between, according to Nell Diamond, Hill House Home’s founder and CEO.
“A huge philosophy of mine is never creating products that already existed,” Diamond told Adweek. “Just putting our logo or branding on something is never going to be enough. It really needs to need to exist.”
That’s where the name comes in. “Nap Dress,” Diamond said, implies it’s multipurpose, a “combination of practicality, comfort and beauty.” The garments incorporate elements like smocking that are more associated with a day dress than a nightgown—an intentional detail. The name’s “tongue-in-cheek” nature gives it a playful edge. To boot, it’s a product that’s made for 2020: dressed up loungewear, suited for home or play. She’s so convinced of the name’s uniqueness—and its value—that she trademarked it.
“There are some people out there who are like, ‘This is implying like that you get to nap all the time,'” Diamond said. “For me, what it really is is this idea that it can be more than one thing. That’s the ultimate luxury, having anything in your life that can serve two purposes.”
The brand launched in 2016, starting with bedding. Since then, it’s expanded into bath and baby, as well as apparel. (Though the Nap Dress is Hill House Home’s best known apparel item, it also sells robes and pajamas.) Diamond always envisioned the company as a “holistic lifestyle brand,” rather than just a purveyor of homewares. At the start, the goal was to fill a hole in the marketplace for high quality bedding at the reasonable prices that a direct-to-consumer model allows for—an objective that fit within Diamond’s vision of creating products that didn’t exist. But even then, she said she envisioned a future where non-home products played a role.
That came in earnest when Nap Dresses first debuted in August 2019. Last winter, when the product was released in a tartan print, it set off a “crazy” response only eclipsed by this summer’s reaction. The seasonal lineup of prints and styles sold out in days, with only a few styles in limited sizes still available. (More will arrive in the fall.)
These expansions haven’t been the product of months of strategic planning, but rather, following a gut instinct and the desires of the consumer. Thanks to Instagram, Diamond, an influencer in her own right with over 42,000 followers, is able to connect with both veteran and potential customers. (In the brand’s early days, she’d answer customer service emails herself.)
“The beautiful thing about growing a business at the pace that we’ve been growing ours is that we got to let the customers lead us a bit,” said Diamond, noting that the company didn’t take outside investment until late last year. “I didn’t have this master plan of disruption, which lots of people do. Instead, I got to say, ‘Alright, here’s a segment of this industry that I think needs a little bit of help.'”
That connection has led to a deeper understanding of who, exactly, the Hill House Home customer is, and what she’s looking for—even if they’re not items one might expect from a home brand. While the Nap Dress’s designated purpose is not exclusive to the home, it’s not such a stretch for a brand with bedding as its original offering. (After all, “nap” is in the name.) More recent offerings, such as headbands and hair bows in the same fabrics as the Nap Dresses, however, are perhaps a bit more unexpected. (At least, for those unfamiliar with the brand.)