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Why Everlane Is Opening Brick-And-Mortar Stores After Years Of Resistance

The popular e-tailer is finally unveiling retail flagships in New York and San Francisco. Here's why.

Cult favorite apparel and accessories e-tailer Everlane has opened a flagship store in New York City’s Soho neighborhood and plans for a similar San Francisco opening in the near future — a move to blend the online and offline shopping worlds that comes as a surprise after the company’s noted resistance to physical retail.

Movement of apparel and accessories e-tailers from “clicks to bricks” is long established — Warby Parker helped pioneered the path in 2013  — but Everlane’s opening is particularly momentous given that the brand’s CEO reportedly told the New York Times style magazine in 2012 that he would never open brick-and-mortar flagships.

“The original idea was that we would never do stores,” founder and CEO Michael Preysman told Vogue. “But when you’re in the online-only world, you can’t bring people into your space and your brand the same way you can with a physical store, where it feels transparent, open, and honest. So we wanted to bring the brand to life and be part of people’s lives in a more meaningful way.”

Why Clicks-To-Bricks Still Works

Amidst major upheaval in the traditional retail sector, the refrain remains: Over 90 percent of purchases take place in physical stores. But as department stores shuttered, the future of apparel flagships seemed uncertain: Some questioned if in-store purchase stats said less about shopping for clothes and more about CPG purchases, groceries and small accessories items picked up on the fly.

But Everlane’s opening suggests that physical retail still matters very much to consumers — and it is profitable for businesses who successfully blend the online and offline experience before extending (or too often, overextending) their physical retail footprint. We’ve seen this time and time again with Blue Nile, Rent The Runway, and, of course, Warby Parker, which has now opened its 61st store.

Even as Everlane experimented with pop-up stores over the past few years, leadership remained apprehensive about brick-and-mortar. But promising sales at the pop-ups and continuing enthusiasm for the brand across social platforms appear to have finally swung the pendulum. Perhaps the fact that a reported 82 percent of Millennials believe it’s important for a brand to have physical stores mattered, too. This is important for marketers to keep in mind as they look to attract attention of younger, digital native millennial shoppers.

In any case, it seems Preysman has finally embraced the maxim “give [the consumer] something they can’t get on Amazon: “People do want to try things on,” Preysman said. “Having them come in and touch the product and talk to employees makes such a difference.”

About The Author
Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of GeoMarketing.com. A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.