Shortly after Amanda Hearst and Hassan Pierre met in 2012, the two had an idea: to merge Pierre’s experience designing his own sustainable fashion line with Hearst’s ethical fashion reporting at Marie Claire to create a company of their own.
The hype around sustainable fashion was then in nascent stages, so the two spitballed ideas about a traveling pop-up shop that would showcase Pierre’s collection, as well as that of other emerging, environmentally conscious designers that Hearst would select. Thus, Maison de Mode was born. For three years, the duo traveled the country hosting shops in different cities, before launching an e-commerce site in 2015. Now the company sets itself apart in the sustainable fashion realm by continuing to host its mobile pop-up stores in tandem with the site, in an effort to expand its consumer base.
Maison de Mode is part of a growing number of sites dedicated to proving to consumers that fashion can be both sustainable and stylish. Its peers include sites like Zady, which has continued to gain popularity and visibility with the help of celebrities like Emma Watson, and Reve En Vert, founded by Cora Hilts with the intention to serve as “the Net-a-Porter of sustainable fashion.”
E-commerce platforms like Maison de Mode are a response to the influx of designers beginning to place an emphasis on sustainable production. As a result, the company has expanded from featuring just ten brands in 2012 to more than 60 today, with shoppers across the globe.
The featured designers — which include a broad range of heritage brands and emerging companies, such as Tome, Maiyet and Amour Vert — are selected largely by Hearst. She analyzes each company based on a number of categories, which are denoted on each product with different symbols. Each product on the site is required to have at least one of the qualifications, which includes using recycled materials, being made in the U.S., holding a fair trade certification and donating a percentage of proceeds to a philanthropic organization, among others.
“We discover a lot of brands on social media, especially Instagram and Twitter, as well as through different fashion houses,” Hearst said. “We’re becoming well-known enough that brands and people reach out to us.”
Since its launch, Maison de Mode has continued to host pop-up shops periodically throughout the year in an effort to continue to merge the brick-and-mortar experience with e-commerce, while simultaneously increasing brand awareness. Pierre said that, though the pop-ups are ephemeral in nature, his team has found that customer acquisition has grown by as much as 40 percent in the immediate three months after they close. Additionally, during months it holds pop-ups, its monthly revenues nearly double to account for 45 percent of the the month’s net sales.
“After experiencing brick and mortar, consumers are comfortable with the aesthetic of the brand,” Pierre said. “It really is a driving force to having customers shops online.”
Moving forward, Pierre and Hearst said they hope to increase collaboration with other e-commerce sites focused on sustainable luxury fashion in an effort to galvanize the industry. Pierre said their next major projects will be a forthcoming partnership with Simon Malls, in which Maison de Mode plans to hold experiential pop-ups at select malls in the U.S., and venturing into advertising for the first time.
However, his ultimate goal, while lofty, is that — in the next five years — there won’t even be a need to distinguish products or brands as sustainable; it will just be inherent.
“Within the sustainable fashion space, there’s quite an open dialogue to innovation, as far as sustainable practices. It’s a shared community, whereas in the typical fashion world, it’s more guarded. I think it’s about sharing information and doing the best we can all do.”