Like many brands, loungewear company Richer Poorer saw an upswing in its e-commerce revenue during the pandemic. But even the most optimistic estimates of how online shopping would grow outweighed the reality.
In the last 18 months, Richer Poorer’s e-commerce revenue increased by 470%, with the fleece category, in particular, increasing by 1,700%. The brand planned to bring direct and online sales up from 20% of total revenue to 30% last year; it ended up surpassing that goal. At the start of 2021, direct sales made up 75% of total revenue.
But while Richer Poorer was one of the brands that fared well during the pandemic, the question now is whether it can maintain its momentum. Co-founder Iva Pawling said the plan now is to introduce new categories while retaining a focus on comfort that served the brand during the pandemic.
“We spent all of 2019 going through a rebranding process to refocus on comfort, which launched in January 2020,” Pawling said. “We were in a perfect position when the pandemic started, and we just leaned into it and hit the gas as much as we could.” Sales of sweats alone in 2020 surpassed the brand’s total 2019 e-commerce revenue.
But the brand is banking on new categories: Richer Poorer launched trousers and tops (not T-shirts) in June and is debuting blazers in 2022. Each new category is being launched thoughtfully; the blazer launch, for instance, will start with only one style and grow from there.
Pawling said the new categories were chosen specifically to cater to shoppers going back into the office.
“The world is opening back up,” Pawling said. “People aren’t wearing sweat pants the way they were last year. A lot of people are still working from home, but many are on a flexible schedule. We see that as an opportunity for Richer Poorer to own more of their wardrobe because they already come to us for comfort.”
As far as marketing the new categories, Pawling said one of the main channels the team will be relying on for discovery is their wholesale business. Right now, Richer Poorer is one of the top brands on the Madewell website, which Pawling said is a huge driver of traffic and brand awareness even though wholesale is a small part of the business now. She declined to provide specific figures.
The strategy of branching into more office-appropriate attire while keeping a focus on comfort is one that many brands have taken. Activewear brands like Rhone and Vuori have all added in new categories like polos and blazers to capitalize on the shift back to the office. Still, Pawling said Richer Poorer won’t abandon its core loungewear categories.
“Everyone’s fallen in love with comfort during the pandemic, so they still want something comfortable,” said Nate Checketts, co-founder of Rhone. “There’s a much higher interest in ready-to-wear clothes now than there was last year.”