The direct-to-consumer model is on the rise in fashion, with more brands looking to cut out middlemen. This year alone, we saw brands turn their backs on wholesale, rebalance their distribution in favor of the direct-to-consumer model and compete for space in crowded DTC markets, including lingerie.
These six fashion brands have successfully established strong foundations in the space, and — based on their potential and plans — we expect them to stand out from the pack in 2018.
Founded in 2013 by Heidi Zak, an Aeropostale and Google alum, ThirdLove was an early player in the now noisy direct-to-consumer lingerie space, which includes Lively, True&Co. and Negative Underwear. Its differentiator: It offers half-cup sizes, based on data that half of all women should be wearing a size falling in between the traditional range. Launching with 30 sizes, it has since extended to 60, and there’s a 500,000-person waitlist for the 15 additional sizes it’s set to debut in 2018. Now in rapid growth mode — it launched a range of nude bras for all skin tones and a loungewear collection this year — it’s primed to build on the success of it bras. (To date, it’s earned $30 million in revenue on its 24/7 Classic T-shirt bra alone.)
Just yesterday, custom menswear brand Indochino announced guaranteed three-week delivery for all custom orders, cutting a week off its former cart-to-door time. The news comes days before the opening of its 19th showroom, in the Mall of America. The company — which launched in 2007 and saw a 57 percent net revenue increase in 2016 — plans to open 18 more showrooms in 2018, in cities including Austin, Atlanta and San Jose. “[It’s] … a newer, smarter way to shop,” said CEO Drew Green, in Monday’s statement. “We’re … leveraging a unique model that minimizes costs and maximizes savings for our customers.”
Ten-year-old Alo Yoga has a loyal fan base that includes Gigi Hadid, Hailey Baldwin and Kylie Jenner — but you’d never know it by looking at its Instagram wall. Void of celebrities, the images exclusively feature what co-founders Danny Harris and Marco deGeorge have dubbed the Alo Family — a pool of more than 4,000 yoga pros and teachers — striking complicated yoga poses in scenic locations. It’s worked for the brand, which now boasts 1.2 million followers. “[Our philosophy] has attracted the likes of some of the most real and authentic yogis that have committed their life to their practice,” Harris recently told Fashionista.
Last year, Alo opened its first flagship, an 8,000-square-foot space in Beverly Hills, featuring an organic coffee bar and rooftop yoga classes. It has since opened two more locations in L.A., and has inked deals to open stores in New York’s Flatiron and Soho neighborhoods. Harris and deGeorge plan to back a total of 20 U.S. stores by 2021.
Since opening in 2011, Everlane has become a household name, best known as a pioneer in fashion’s move to the direct-to-consumer model. Built on “radical transparency,” the brand, founded by Michael Preysman, has seen consistent growth, reportedly doing $51 million in sales in 2016.
Lately, it’s been rapidly building on its foundation, some ways in which have been unexpected: In September, it launched its first denim collection. Three months later, after years of playing host to pop-ups — including a Nordstrom “Pop-In” that ran through November — Preysman, a longtime opposer of brick-and-mortar retail, opened the first permanent Everlane location in New York’s Soho neighborhood. The second is set to open in February, in the company’s home base of San Francisco.
The brainchild of sneaker industry veterans Ryan Babenzien (formerly of K-Swiss and Puma) and Jon Buscemi, Greats was born in Brooklyn in 2014 — and it’s recently hit its stride. Last year, its collaboration with NFL running back Marshawn Lynch reportedly sold out in 49 minutes. In September, its shoe created with Jason Wu’s diffusion line, Grey — which marked its foray into women’s footwear — cleared out in 12 hours. Recently armed with $15 million in funding (it raised its most recent round of $10 million in May), the company is busy expanding its physical presence: This fall, it started selling in eight Nordstrom locations on the West Coast, plus it plans to open nine more of its own stores in the next two years. It launched its first, Greats Studio, in Williamsburg in October.
Greats Studio (image via highsnobiety.com)
In July, Walmart acquired direct-to-consumer menswear line Bonobos for $310 million, resulting in Bonobos’s path being widely regarded as a brand lesson in what not to do — namely, don’t wind up a slave to investors and find yourself forced to “sell out.” But, founder Andy Dunn — who now oversees Modcloth, another of Walmart’s recent buys — insists the partnership will work to Bonobos’s advantage: Walmart’s “massive supply chain” will allow Bonobos to expedite products to customers, plus its Store No. 8 incubator will facilitate technological growth. In the year ahead, he plans to open six Bonobos “guide shops,” in new markets, driven by the lack of brand awareness he says still exists. “We have a huge market to go get,” he told WWD in September.
Image via Everlane.com