Back in 2011, a young businessman from San Francisco started Everlane after he learned about the extravagant, and often inconsistent, markups on items throughout the fashion industry. The more he learned, the more he felt he had the solution to help reduce the markups and overall prices of quality clothing by cutting out the middleman through e-commerce and creating a company committed to “radical transparency.”
The Everlane Story: Started from the bottom now we’re here
Everlane was launched with minimal venture capital investment (around $1.1 million) and Everlane has an estimated valuation now of more than $250 million. In a world currently dominated by minimalistic lifestyle companies (a la Harry’s, Casper, or Away), what has allowed Everlane to grow so quickly into a profitable company?
Simply speaking, the top brass at Everlane know their niche and build high quality products that are designed to withstand trends. They also collaborate with others often and pair fitting marketing strategies with a high quality product.
By knowing and embracing their niche, Everlane has been able to build a high quality, sought-after product. In an interview with New Yorker, Preysman joked, “You don’t get laid in Everlane.” What he meant was, Everlane didn’t enter the fashion space with the intention of creating flashy, sexy clothes that are pushing trends forward. Rather, their clothes are classic and functional.1
Lizzie Widdicombe, author of the aforementioned New Yorker article writes, “Was it a radical reinvention—doing to work shoes what Apple did to flip phones? No, but they were great for the office.”2 However, what Everlane’s clothes lack in originality, they make up for in another key part of the business: their pricing strategy. Their markups are generally only 2-3 times the cost of the item – this is a dramatic shift from much of the rest of the fashion industry, where prices are typically 7 to 8 times the cost to actually make the clothes.
Revolutionary, too, is Everlane’s commitment to “radical transparency.” Everlane has published their costs and markups clearly on their website in simple and tidy infographics. They allow the customer to see every expense tied to a particular article of clothing.
Additionally, Everlane is able to minimize costs by cutting out one of the most costly parts of their competitor’s business model: excess. Many companies create new designs for each season and distribute many different styles to see what sticks. This results in many items leftover at the end of the season that get relegated to clearance racks. By sticking with a classic style, and creating its clothes from durable and ethically sourced materials, Everlane can focus its time and energy on designing products that its customers will wear for years to come. Rather than following trends, Everlane builds for the long haul.
Everlane Success: The benefits of a team mentality
Preysman and company are hardly concerned with what is going on in the rest of the fashion industry; they don’t even have a singular lead designer like most other major brands. Instead, they have a team of designers whose main initiative is to “create out of [their] own inspiration”.3 They then publish a limited run of the product, listen to customer feedback, and make the necessary changes, so that each “version” of a particularly clothing item is better than the last.
This diffused design structure (a team vs. single person) has proven to be wildly successful – each time Everlane announces a new product, the waiting list for it is larger than the last. Everlane proves the old adage true: two (or more) heads are certainly better than one.
Why is Everlane so popular? A marketing success story.
We’ve already discussed how the clothes which Everlane sells are not exactly revolutionary, yet they’ve had well over 350,000 customers since their inception in 2011. This is due, in large part, to an attitude towards marketing that is very complementary to the rest of their brand.
Everlane avoids traditional advertising channels and instead focus its efforts on publishing high quality, editorial style content made by their in-house team. Like many successful companies before them, the Everlane marketing team knows that they need to spend less time describing the products’ features, but rather talking about how people will use it. For example, while you may not wear their clothes on a date, you will definitely be reaching for them to put into your carry on.
The Everlane team focuses heavily on building their brand, making sure that all aspects of their company are “clean and detailed” – their infographics are easy to read, often containing very few words, and their clothes hardly stray from black, white, and gray. website. One of their most powerful and innovative marketing moves was to team up with Postmates to have select items from their collection available to customers in some major cities within an hour. Through simple, yet innovative marketing, Everlane has created a strong brand identity and loyal customer base.
An Everlane Case Study: You don’t have to be radical to be revolutionary
Companies don’t have to be radical to be revolutionary.
Sometimes, success can be found through focusing on one’s craft, listening to your current customers, and finding new ones through classy, high-quality marketing that matches a classic, high-quality product. Everlane’s success is a testament to the power of an intentional, thoughtful, and transparent business model in an industry often dominated by shady and manipulative practices.
Sometimes, all it takes to disrupt an industry is the courage to unapologetically tell your own story in your own way.
- Widdicombe, L. (2017, September 25). How Everlane Hacked Your Wardrobe. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/on-and-off-the-avenue/how-everlane-hacked-your-wardrob
- Widdicombe, L. (2017, September 25). How Everlane Hacked Your Wardrobe. https://www.newyorker.com/culture/on-and-off-the-avenue/how-everlane-hacked-your-wardrobe
- Avins, J. 2016, March 8). Everlane: The San Francisco clothing company that launches t-shirts like they’re iPhones. https://qz.com/630567/everlane-the-san-francisco-clothing-company-that-creates-t-shirts-like-theyre-iphones/