Inspiration can come from anywhere — even Goldman Sachs.
That’s where technical fabrics brand Aday was incubated by Goldman analysts Nina Faulhaber and Meg He, who saw room in the retail market for a brand specializing in a few sturdy items made with technical fabrics that could serve as the baseline of a busy woman’s wardrobe.
Neither Faulhaber nor He had much experience in fashion or retail. (He had a yearlong stint at mobile e-commerce marketplace Poshmark in 2013.) Instead, their ideas for the brand came from other experiences: Faulhaber’s as a former gymnast and He’s as a yoga teacher. Both wanted to build a brand for durable pieces that could work outside of the workout. The brand, launched in 2015, now employs a small team headquartered in New York’s SoHo neighborhood, in a studio that was previously occupied by the photographer Terry Richardson.
Since its initial leggings launch, Aday has grown its store to also sell track pants, sports bras, tank tops, shorts and a new line of “technical tailored” clothing that includes button-down shirts and work pants. Its small batches, smart Instagram strategy, positive online reviews and early round of angel investment have put it on the same path of startup e-commerce companies before it like Everlane and Glossier, which continuously sell out of products.
“When we design something, we really want it to have a reason for existing,” said Faulhaber. “We want it to be designed in a way where people wouldn’t just buy it and throw it away at the end of the season; they invest in it the same way they invest in a suitcase or a water bottle.”
Today, a new apparel brand throwing its hat into the e-commerce ring needs a hook more attractive than: Here’s more clothes. Aday’s angle? Less is more. As part of its brand ethos, Aday invests in small batches of inventory at a time to gauge consumer demand. As a result, when items perform well, they often sell out. According to Faulhaber, Aday’s customers don’t mind a waitlist.
“We launch an item and are fairly confident that it could be a staple, but we’re not quite sure. Retail is risky,” said He. “We invest in a small amount of product so it doesn’t backlog and sit there.”
It’s impossible not to draw comparisons to Everlane, which launched with the goal of making high-quality basics that last through faddy fashion trends. Aday’s founders are certainly familiar with Everlane. When it first launched, He reached out to founder and CEO Michael Preysman to ask about his business, and he continues to be a resource for the brand.
Aday’s technical tailored pants and shirt
Aday also shares another trait with Everlane: a dedication to transparency. Every factory that Aday works with is listed on the site. Faulhaber said that while some items are cut and sewn in Los Angeles, technical fabrics aren’t readily available in the U.S. The brand works with factories in Portugal to get the stretchy, breathable, seamless fabrics it uses in its leggings. He said that for now, it doesn’t broadcast its transparent supply chain because that’s not the focus of the brand’s story that they’re choosing to broadcast.
“We’re about everyday performance staples, and it’s really hard to have more than one strong brand story,” He said.
Last week, Aday launched a new item to help carve out its identity: scarves with the word “feminist” embroidered onto them. Faulhaber said that as a brand focused on minimalism, any new product launches stem from conversations with customers. Last year, the brand introduced a sports bra for women with bigger busts after hearing there was demand.
“We’re so young and flexible, it’s so easy for us to listen to our customers,” said Faulhaber. “They want to know how the story unfolded. We might launch something and people might hate it, and then we can decide that it’s not the path to go down. It’s centered around a conversation.”