In this week’s briefing:
- The Outnet launches menswear
- Express’s first-quarter earnings show progress on lofty goals
- Fit technology companies are getting new funding
The Outnet launches menswear
Yoox Net-a-Porter’s off-price brand The Outnet sees a white space in menswear.
After more than a decade exclusively selling womenswear, since The Outnet was founded in 2009, the retailers is making its first major foray into menswear on May 31. After soft-launching and testing menswear in a few markets like the U.K., EMEA and APAC earlier this year, The Outnet’s managing director Emma Mortimer said the brand has assembled more than 30 brand partners for its first big launch in its main market: the U.S.
Those brands include current Outnet partners like Alexander McQueen, Dolce & Gabbana, Sandro, Rag & Bone and Acne Studios, as well as new partner brands Officine Generale and Canali. The latter two will not be available at launch, instead hitting the site later this summer.
“There’s so much white space here,” Mortimer said. While there are plenty of sites that cater to menswear, including The Outnet’s sibling brand Mr Porter, there aren’t as many like The Outnet with a specific focus on discount fashion from prior seasons, she said. “We’ve wanted to do menswear for quite some time. It’s one of those things that’s been lingering for years, and now we feel like there’s a clear opportunity for us.”
According to Mortimer, in The Outnet’s initial testing of menswear, it noticed a difference in how men shop compared to women, but less difference in how men in one market shop versus men in another.
“The male customers engage a lot more with categories than with brand,” Mortimer said. “Men are searching more for functionality, looking for things like suits or sneakers, where as women are more often searching for specific brands or just browsing whatever’s new on the site.”
The marketing plan will, at first, be relatively consistent with The Outnet marketing approach for to women. Many of the same channels, like Instagram, where it has 714,000 followers, will be used. But dedicated menswear content will be more prevalent on the website.
Mortimer said the ultimate goal is a 50% split between menswear and womenswear, in terms of revenue, but she’s prepared for that to take a few years. Until then, she said every step of the male customers’ shopping journey will be evaluated and improved, as needed.
What’s more, no physical pop-ups are planned, but an in-person launch event is set to take place in New York to promote the new offering. Mortimer said it will be an opportunity for The Outnet to build up its relationships with menswear influencers.
“We’re finally able to do in-person events again so we will for sure be inviting a lot of the VIPs from our influencer base who have been loyal to us in the past,” Mortimer said. The Outnet has previously worked with influencers like entrepreneur Erin Foster (610,000 Instagram followers). “Hopefully some of those [female] influencers will bring their plus-one men and we can have a more diverse event than usual.”
The opportunity for menswear has been growing significantly in the last five years, driven by the popularity of streetwear and sneakers and designers like Virgil Abloh. But even traditional men’s fashion has seen growth. From a low point of $14 billion in sales for the U.S. men’s suit market in 2020, sales jumped to $16 billion in 2021 and now are projected to hit $17 billion in 2022, according to Statista.
Brands like Rothy’s, Anatomie and Erdem have all launched menswear in the last year to capitalize on the growing demand.
But not since the fall of Gilt Groupe has there been an online retailer that’s placed a significant focus on discount luxury menswear. Gilt Groupe was once valued at $1 billion before being sold for a tenth of that in 2018. Instead, the biggest competitors The Outnet may face in this area are resale platforms like The RealReal, which offer luxury menswear at similar price points to The Outnet. While more women in the U.S. shop resale — around 18% — men are not far behind, at 11%.
“We want to evolve our business from only womenswear to being just as well known – and synonymous, even – with menswear,” Mortimer said. “There’s so much potential to own that area.”
In Other News
Express’s roadmap progress
On Express’s first-quarter earnings call on Wednesday, CEO Tim Baxter gave an update on the brand’s ExpressWay Forward plan — a roadmap developed to reinvigorate Express after a period of disappointing sales and store closures.
Two years since the roadmap was laid out, the brand is showing some progress. This quarter, Express had its highest number of loyalty program members in its history, for example.
Express CMO Sara Tervo attributed the growth to a relaunch of the program in 2021 that lowered the threshold to earn rewards and added benefits like birthday discounts for all users and not just those in the highest loyalty tiers.
“The loyalty program saw great traction in bringing in new customers and reactivating old ones,” Tervo told Glossy.
A 30% increase in net sales and a 21% increase in e-commerce demand also helped push Express toward its goal of $1 billion in e-commerce sales by 2024.
Express svp of e-commerce, Brian Seewald, attributed this, in part, to a lowered reliance on discounts.
“For the entire first quarter, we had no site-wide or store-wide promotions,” Seewald told Glossy. “I can’t remember another quarter like that.”
Both Tervo and Seewald said the area where Express has the most catching up to do on its roadmap is in brick-and-mortar. The brand is currently testing a variety of store additions, from big back-end projects, like enhancing buy-online, pick-up-in-store, to smaller updates, like adding comfortable seating and new light fixtures.
“We are piloting an entirely new store experience and operating model,” Tervo said. “And we’re trying to make sure that we build it in a way where we can more easily test and learn and roll out new features in whatever way works best.”
Fit technology is seeing investor interest
As the movements toward size diversity/inclusivity and comfort-based fashion have grown, fit technology has gained momentum. For example, Fit:Match, which provides 3D body-scanning fit technology, is now present in Rihanna’s Savage x Fenty’s new stores, and new fit companies like Unspun are on the rise.
Now investors are showing interest. Fit:Match received an undisclosed sum from Fabletics earlier this year, and last year, Snap acquired fit technology company Fit Analytics.
Bold Metrics, a company that makes AI-powered software to collect what it calls “body data” to aid fashion brands’ fit development, is the latest fit tech company to pique investors’ interest. The company raised $8 million on Thursday in a funding round led by Bessemer Venture Partners. Bold Metrics already provides fit tech for brands including Canada Goose, UpWest and Tailored Brands. With the new funding, Bold Metrics plans to push into new markets and expand its portfolio of clients.
“To state the obvious, when you’re selling clothes online, the way they fit really matters to the customer and the business.” said Kent Bennett, partner at Bessemer Venture Partners.
Inside Our Coverage
Skims launched automated robots at one of its fulfillment centers.
We published a recap of the Glossy E-commerce Forum.
With rough economic times ahead, fashion brands are “planning for the worst.”
A look inside how Everlane develops impact reports.