This week, a look at the rise of workwear and the marketing power of Revolve. Plus, Rebag is expanding its physical footprint, and retailers are targeting tweens.
Based on fashion brands’ recent rush to the category, workwear is the new athleisure.
So far, the fall 2022 collections have been heavy in workwear-inspired details and styles synonymous with non-desk work. During New York Fashion Week, Dion Lee called construction an inspiration for his collection and peppered his runway with looks that included work boots, workwear aprons, tool belts and utility pockets. Brands including Ulla Johnson and Tibi introduced sturdy denim. And Adeam designer Hanako Maeda rolled out various takes on work pants, as well as a range of styles topped with cargo pockets.
“The balance between creativity and function has become increasingly important post-pandemic,” Maeda told Glossy. “Customers want items that are timeless and can be styled in multiple ways for different seasons and occasions.”
During a walk-through of Zankov’s fall offering, designer Henry Zankov said, “I wanted to do utility in a chic way,” while pointing out the coveralls and cargo pants that had found their way into his line, best known for knitwear.
It’s a natural progression, said Anabel Maldonado, founder and CEO of Psykhe, an AI-powered fashion aggregator based on a shopper’s personality test. “Workwear is a step up from athleisure,” she said. “It’s a little bit more formal and together, but still retains the ease we’ve grown accustomed to. It’s almost a subversive take on [business] workwear. No one’s putting on a tailored suit anymore.”
It also reflects the unfortunate vibe of the times, she said. “When we think about workwear, we think about usefulness and productivity and work. But we also think about protection and survival – because a bunch of traditional workwear comes from people needing to protect themselves against machinery or the elements. In the past two years, our survival as a species was called into question for the first time in an impactful way. So protection and survival, and the protective nature of workwear, have become a big focus.”
And fashion brands are at the ready to answer the demand.
Outside of the fashion week calendar, fashion veterans Josh Goot and Christine Centenera’s DTC luxury basics brand Wardrobe.NYC released a capsule collaboration with Carhartt WIP in December. Included styles, like a black boiler suit and a bomber jacket, feature Carhartt’s signature heavy canvas fabric. And last week, sustainability-focused Pangaia debuted its third denim-focused collection made up of a workwear jacket and “carpenter pants,” both made from organic fabric and rain-fed hemp. In step, G-Star Raw introduced the latest iteration of its experimental Exclusives collections, revealing styles inspired by Japanese workwear and the Japanese military uniform.
But perhaps the most apparent takes on the trend are those that have been part of the recent, hotly-anticipated launches of streetwear greats. Artistic director Nigo’s first collection for Kenzo, revealed in January in Paris, is themed “impractical workwear.” It includes coverall-inspired jumpsuits, apron-tops, selvedge-look denim and field caps.
And of course, on Wednesday, Ye and Demna hit go on the Yeezy Gap Engineered by Balenciaga collection, announced last month. Eight styles, including $220 jeans and a $240 hoodie, went on sale on YeezyGap.com and Farfetch.com, with most sizes of all styles selling out. Gap declined to comment and provide additional sales data.
According to the press release, the collection reflects “timeless silhouettes translated through the lens of Ye and Demna’s shared vision of utilitarian design.”
The worlds of streetwear and workwear have increasingly overlapped in recent years. The crossover is obvious when glancing at the clientele of workwear supplier Dave’s New York during a weekend visit. Streetwear enthusiasts including Nordstrom menswear director Jian DeLeon are among regulars. In May, sneaker retailer Sneakersnstuff launched SNS Workwear, focused on “durable pieces” and “hardwearing garments.” UK-based streetwear retailer Working Class Heroes, launched in 2006, sells brands from Dickies to Stussy.
And as such, regardless of other factors bolstering the category, fashion brands will no doubt continue to go there.
“Everyone copies certain codes to look relevant, whether it’s: ‘Let’s blow up our logo,’ ‘Let’s make some athleisure,’ ‘Let’s make some expensive sneakers,’” Maldonado said. “This is a bit under the radar, still. So it’s: ‘Let’s jump in on these boiler suits.’”
Revolve’s ever-expanding roster of marketing activations is paying off in spades
In looking at its 2021 fourth-quarter earnings results, reported on Wednesday, Revolve Group reads like the retailer-slash-media company that could.
Pandemic-related restrictions around traveling and gallivanting like we once did still remain. And its signature Coachella-adjacent Revolve Festival was canceled two years in a row. Even so, Revolve, fueled by women buying going-out looks and its own influencer-populated grand events, is at its height.
Revolve’s revenue in the quarter reached $240 million, representing a 70% year-over-year jump and a 63% boost over the same period in 2019. The company also saw record profitability for a fourth quarter, at $29 million, and its number of active customers increased 25% year-over-year.
In short, it’s finding plenty of ways to amplify its voice and give consumers a reason to shop without pulling the usual levers.
“Things are pumping on all cylinders, and we’re a V12; we’ve got a lot of cylinders,” said Michael Mente, co-founder and co-CEO of Revolve.
And there’s no shortage of growth opportunities, moving forward. For one, “the world is still opening up,” said Mike Karanikolas, co-founder and co-CEO of Revolve. In addition, there are plenty of shoppers beyond female influencer types who aren’t yet familiar with the company.
“When I compare us to the [retail] legends, like Nordstrom, they have magnitudes greater brand awareness,” Mente said.
Revolve is on a clear mission to catch up.
The growth of Revolve’s customer base can be owed, in part, to momentum from marketing activations in the third quarter carrying through the fourth quarter, said Karanikolas. Those included two activations during New York Fashion Week in September: the retailer’s first NYFW runway show, featuring an exclusive Dundas collaboration, and a star-studded physical shopping experience dubbed Revolve Gallery. Its #RevolveGallery hashtag drove $7.9 million in media impact value.
The same month, Revolve Group’s luxury-focused FWRD brand named Kendall Jenner creative director, driving engagement including site traffic and app downloads. FWRD sales were up 83% year-over-year in the subsequent three months.
Also in the fourth quarter, Revolve launched a Brand Ambassador affiliate program and further developed and explored product categories beyond ready-to-wear.
Revolve is currently hiring dedicated staff to support the three-month-old ambassador program, with plans to “aggressively ramp it up” after seeing it take off, Mente said. Among learnings so far are that ambassadors overwhelmingly choose to receive their rewards as store credit, versus cash. “It’s become this flywheel, where they sell more, they get more clothes, they sell more, and then they’re deep into our world,” he said.
Mente added that owning the technology needed to fuel the program versus working with a third party has proven advantageous. “We have full access to data, so we know what’s working, and we can work with ambassadors to fine-tune and elevate what they’re doing,” he said.
To further extend Revolve’s reach, continuing to grow its beauty business, which has seen “massive spikes” during the pandemic, is a priority, Mente said. Another objective is cross-marketing FWRD to current Revolve customers to build that brand.
”We know that a majority of our customers shop for expensive handbags and luxury products, and we know they’re not yet shopping from us,” he said.
Revolve is currently investing in its men’s business, housed under the FWRD brand. Rather than fashion influencers, it’s linking with musicians, athletes and other men with influence to spread the word. “If you fast-forward years into the future, men’s will be a much bigger part of our business,” Mente said.
It’s also setting its sights on offering inclusive sizing. A deal has been “signed and inked” to push this forward in the months ahead, he said.
Already this quarter, Revolve’s co-hosted a hot-ticket, two-night event ahead of Super Bowl Sunday – it featured branded activations alongside performances by Justin Bieber and Drake. It targeted men, as well as women.
And in early March, it will open its first consumer-welcoming store, on Melrose in L.A.
Called Revolve Social Club, the physical store is a “2.0” version of a prior physical space with the same name that Revolve owned pre-pandemic, Mente said. Rather than exclusively host designers, influencers and intimate events, it will be open to everyday consumers, allowing them to engage with the Revolve community and experience the full Revolve lifestyle. Along with selling some clothes, it will feature a cafe and a bar, and opportunities for visitors to partake in workouts, beauty treatments and parties.
As with Revolve’s New York Fashion Week events, Mente said the Revolve Social Club provides a testing ground for similar global activations. It will remain open in L.A. for at least “several months,” he said.
Next quarter will mark the debut of a “bigger, better and evolved” version of Revolve Festival, in step with the growth of the company, Mente said. He repeatedly noted that Revolve has become smarter about carrying out such activations in a cost-effective way.
Despite the success of Revolve’s owned brands – making up 20% of 2021’s total sales – third-party brands will continue to be important to Revolve’s business, and vice versa, Mente said. He pointed to the recent challenges caused by Apple iOS changes to the advertising strategies of Revolve’s partner brands. As a result, the brands have been increasingly leaning on Revolve and its diversified marketing playbook.
“At the core of Revolve is our [product assortment],” Mente said. “We sell the best range of independent designers around the world.”
5 Questions: Rebag founder Charles Gorra on opening stores
On Thursday, luxury handbag resale company Rebag opened its ninth physical store, at the Brickell City Centre mall in downtown Miami. The move comes after the company announced a Series E funding round of $33 million, in December, bringing its total funding to $101 million. Also late last year, it opened stores in Greenwich, Connecticut and Beverly Hills.
Founder and CEO Charles Gorra broke down his current approach to stores and his plans to further expand Rebag’s physical footprint in 2022.
What makes a trip to a store “worth it,” as Rebag sees it?
Our customers often like to see, feel and try on investment pieces in-store. The product assortment in each location is based on the preferences and behaviors of local store and online shoppers. Plus, we have stylists on-hand to guide shoppers through our inventory of over 30,000 accessories and secure pieces that may be located elsewhere.
For those interested in selling or trading, our stores are convenient drop-off locations, and sellers benefit from [our] unique upfront payment offering. Plus, they can leverage Trade by Rebag, a program that makes it possible to buy and sell an item in a single, combined transaction.
Tell me about the recent addition of a self-serve Clair Corner in your stores. Is it resonating?
Clients bring an item they’re interested in selling or trading, hold it up to the Clair Kiosk camera and receive an instant offer. It’s especially useful for first-time sellers and traders, and customers have been enthusiastic about [using it].
How many additional Rebag stores can we expect to open this year, and what’s the company’s ideal balance of online versus in-store sales?
We’re looking to open several Rebag stores in key luxury markets across the country this year, relying heavily on customer data to determine the locations.
About 15% of Rebag’s sales are in-store and 85% are online. We aim to scale sales in both our brick-and-mortar locations and online, with the former serving as convenient, service-driven access points to the brand and the latter serving as an alternative for customers who aren’t located near a store or prefer online shopping.
What’s behind the pandemic resale boom, and how has it played out for Rebag?
In the last two years, consumers have used disposable income previously reserved for experiences on luxury purchases, specifically investment pieces including Chanel Classic Flap handbags and Rolex watches. And we’ve been a reliable resource for these coveted accessories, as many luxury design houses are not only raising prices but also experiencing supply chain issues that our circular business model allows us to avoid. Rebag has nearly tripled its business since the pandemic began.
So inflation is working to resale’s advantage, yes?
Shoppers looking to acquire various accessories from brands like Chanel and Louis Vuitton that have both recently announced price increases are often able to secure them at a more accessible price point [at resale]. And customers interested in selling or trading a popular item will benefit from higher price quotes as we seek to meet increased demand.
Market spotlight: Tween fashion
Retailers are increasingly going after tween shoppers. In November, The Children’s Place launched tween brand Sugar & Jade. The same month, Franki by Francesca’s, first introduced by Francesca’s in late 2020, opened its first standalone stores. Meanwhile, Janie and Jack introduced tween sizes in early 2021, and in July, Walmart revived Justice. The popular tween retailer closed its stores in 2020, when parent company Ascena Retail Group filed for bankruptcy. Gen Z reportedly spends around $143 billion a year, excluding what their parents spend on them.
On Thursday, women’s fashion retailer Maurices announced it’s launching a tween girls’ brand, called Evsie, in late March. The first collection, with a heavy focus on comfort and denim, will be available on the retailer’s website and in its 900 stores across the U.S. and Canada.
To get the brand off the ground, the company is marketing to both moms and daughters via a multi-channel campaign, said Laura Sieger, CMO of Maurices.
“We’re speaking to tween girls through TikTok and [a dedicated] Instagram, @evsieofficial,” she said. “The overall [markting] strategy includes in-store marketing, social engagement, influencer marketing, SMS and direct mail.” In addition, the company’s teamed with the nonprofit Kind Campaign for the launch, granting 100% of net proceeds from select T-shirts to the organization, which is centered on bullying healing and awareness.
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