Everlane: A New Model for the Fashion Biz?
An article in this weekend’s Los Angeles Times profiled a new designer fashion company, Everlane. What makes Everlane different? The web-only company wants to provide luxury-quality clothing and accessories at price points under $100. They do this by cutting out salespeople, retailers and physical stores, providing a streamlined vertical that purports to lower the price of a $50 tee to $15.
One could argue that no 100% cotton t-shirt is worth $50, and one might be right. So maybe this is more a case of “right-pricing” than discounted luxury pricing. The fashion industry has been reeling since the recession, which caused many consumers to start shopping “downmarket.” Designer collaborations at big box stores, fast fashion companies providing on trend merchandise that is of good-enough quality, and flash sale sites like Gilt, Haute Look and Rue La La selling designer goods for up to 60% off retail fairly soon after their market debut are all contributors to a trend that is spelling doom for the full-price designer market. Consumers have gotten it into their heads that they never have to pay full price for designer clothing, and it will be difficult to convince them otherwise at this point.
You can check out Everlane here (warning: registration and answering a few questions is required). Once in, you’ll see that their selection is quite limited at the moment to a couple of styles of t-shirts, a sweatshirt, a couple of totes, and belts. But the idea of a company that sells the highest possible quality basics, made in the U.S., at rock-bottom prices, is an idea whose time has definitely come.
Everlane is taking advantage of the social shopping model, so if you like this idea, and their execution of it, you can earn credits toward free merchandise by inviting friends to join. I’d love to see one of their tees in person before completely evangelizing, but I am encouraged by this company’s pointed honesty about their business model, and by their commitment to quality goods made in the U.S.