I don’t know about you but I can feel the winds of change blowing all around in business. Blame it on those fabled millennial consumers and their pesky morals and optimism, or the influence of the established challengers like Patagonia and Warby Parker, wherever we turn we’re seeing a direct-to-consumer online brand with an ethical bent, shaping up to shake up the incumbents. It's a good time to be studying challengers that’s for sure.
This retail revolution is particularly true in the world of fashion. We could write a post on the 20 fashion brands challenging how clothes are made and sold – but we don’t have the space - so here’s one we couldn’t not mention…
Occupying that ‘simple quality classics’ sweet spot that Gap lost a long time ago, (think Pheobe Philo-esque well cut basics in good fabrics), online brand Everlane’s challenger mantra is ‘Radical Transparency’, and radical it is indeed.
The concept is simple. For each product on the Everlane website the production price is broken down and the markup clearly stated. So I can see that my dream stripy top actually costs $16 to make ($7.83 in materials, $4.11 in labour, $1.97 in taxes and $2.47 in transport) with Everlane’s marked up retail price of $48 dramatically positioned against the old-guard ‘traditional retail’ cost of $80.
They extend this transparency throughout by profiling each of their factories on their website, so you know where your clothes are coming from as well as how much they cost. These days the customer isn’t going to accept trade-offs so by challenging the big guys on price, quality and ethics Everlane is making the choice an easy one.
Launched in 2011 with a simple cotton t-shirt, Everlane now stocks over 200 items, works with 14 factories in 5 countries and it is reported that in 2015 sales tripled to hit $36 million. All without any traditional advertising.
An innovative on-brand approach to the convention of the January sale (a pay what you want sliding scale) and a refreshing approach to the Black Friday madness (donating all the trading profits from Black Friday to their factory workers ) have kept them on our radar at Challenger Project HQ over the last few months. We look forward to seeing how else their commitment to transparency plays out as they continue to grow.
Helen is eatbigfish's chief cynic, secret idealist and reluctant entrepreneur. She can mostly be found drinking wine and eating crisps in East London pubs.