2011-11-08

Co.Exist

Everlane's Plan To Democratize Designer Goods With Cheap, Crowdsourced Styles

By disrupting the fashion market, Everlane is taking the bloat out of the fashion industry: never producing more than people want, and not selling clothes for 10 times more than they cost to make.

Most of the time (but not always), price in the fashion world is associated with higher quality--your sweater from H&M may look nice, but it probably won’t last as long as one from Barney’s or Banana Republic. And while the recession may have scaled back the number of people who can afford to buy pricey, high-quality clothes, it hasn’t changed the amount of people who still want these items. The evidence: Everlane, a web-only brand that offers designer-quality goods for under $100, already has 100,000 members since launching November 1.

Everlane, which is billing itself as the first major lifestyle brand to be built entirely online, offers "luxury essentials"--T-shirts, ties, bags--at H&M prices. It’s all made possible because Everlane eschews any sort of physical presence; because Everlane sells direct to the consumer and doesn’t have a physical store, it can remove 50% to 75% of traditional retail costs.

Every month, Everlane reveals a new collection. This month is T-shirts. "We go after products we think are essential items that are often overpriced. We said, Barney’s has $50 t-shirts we love, we know they actually cost $6 to make, so why don’t we bring [similar quality shirts] to consumers for $15?" explains Michael Preysman, the cofounder and CEO of Everlane.

The Kleiner Perkins-funded company doesn’t open up its own factories, either. "We try to find factories that are already doing the same things we’re looking for with brands that you’ve heard of," says Preysman. The company discovered, for example, that one of the oldest (and most well-known) tie manufacturers in the U.S had capacity in its factory. So Everlane wedged its way in, and now sells the same quality tie for $30.

Unlike traditional retailers, Everlane doesn’t overproduce its products. Instead, it underproduces, with only 1,500 shirts made for the brand’s 100,000 members (membership is currently capped). Eventually, Everlane plans to crowdsource its collections. "Six months ahead of time, we’ll create 50 [pieces] of six different styles, put them up for sale to a small group of people, see how well they do, and then determine whether to make more," says Preysman. Not only will that prevent waste, it will also save cash for everyone involved.

Everlane will open up to the general public in December. In the meantime, Preysman says, "we’re okay with things selling out and learning from our consumers."

Everlane

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4 Comments

  • Guest

    Cool web page, cool branding, cool positioning. But what makes them different to any other direct-to-consumer fashion company selling basics ala Uniqlo? Not much, only that they are online exclusive. In the end though, don't you want to feel the products you are buying?

  • Guest

    It looks like everlane is experimenting with selling on ebay. They're probably just trying to get their product in the hands of more people though, because it doesn't really fit with what was said in the article. 

  • Rolando Sandor

    Any one that's ever been in production and distribution (inventory management) and even sales knows that information is key industry. The velocity of information and the accuracy of this information is improving everyday. The shift from massive inefficient production to localized, specialized effective production will increase customer quality, creativity and maybe even trade balances.

    I work with a small weaving loom in Nepal...and the quality/type of products we offer would never be provided by larger. Today's technology has the potential to trigger a new renaissance of cultural and social values.

    www.mayalooms.com
    Rolando

  • guest

    " . . . .it won't change the amount of people who still want these items."

    Actually, it won't change the number of people who still want these items.

    If you can count the items (i.e., ice cream cones), use the word "number."
    (We had a large number of ice cream cones left over at the end of the sale.)

    If the item cannot be counted (i.e., ice cream), use the word "amount."
    (The amount of ice cream left should be enough to feed all the soccer kids.)