Having previously visited the Everlane Fit Studio in San Francisco, GDR SVP Global Innovation James Mullan dropped into what the ethical retailer is officially calling its first store, in SoHo, New York. Here are his five highlights from the brand’s attempt to convert its online offering to physical retail.
For its first physical retail store, Everlane has chosen a clean, uncluttered design with a muted colour palette. Passers-by are drawn in from Prince Street outside by the store’s large glass facia – designed, apparently to reflect Everlane’s famously transparent approach to everything (and glass is see-through, get it?!) – and the words ‘Hello New York’. Once inside, simple signage throughout injects a little bit of personality, while guiding shoppers through the space.
Despite launching the Fit Studio at its California HQ in summer 2016, a message by the front door proudly declares: “Welcome to our first store”. According to two of the sales associates I spoke to, this is because the lab store had a softer launch and was “mainly a space for learning rather than selling”. Unlike its predecessor, I suspect what they really meant was that this new location in fashionable (and expensive) SoHo will definitely need to justify itself commercially.
There are several really nice touches throughout the store – all aiming “to provide shoppers with the same access to information they have when they shop online”.
Here are my top five:
1) Local guides to take away
The first of these, which brings a great local connection to the West Coast brand, is a guide to the surrounding Nolita neighbourhood, curated by recommendations from 1,000 New York based Everlane customers. It includes cafes, museums, diners and theatres, successfully embedding the brand’s authentic, friendly personality into the heart of New York.
2) Promoting transparency
Everlane famously takes an ultra-transparent approach to its production process and makes all details of its factories available online in great detail for those browsing the site. Another nice touch is how it translates this for those browsing the store, with physical leaflets that champion each of their global locations displayed prominently between its racks of apparel.
3) People power
Shedding even more light on its factory workers, a slightly more left-field in-store activation is a pair of Beats Bluetooth headphones that play a rather over-the-top audio loop of people loudly cutting and working against the backdrop of tweeting birds at one of its T-shirt production lines.
4) Endless aisles
Bringing its familiar online offering in-store, the new flagship uses an iPad to offer endless-aisle access to its shoe selection. This breaks down the inventory in stock at the store, as well as the SKUs available online.
5) Try-On Only
Interestingly, shoppers are unable to buy a pair of jeans in-store to take home there and then. As signage makes clear, the denim zone is a Try-On Only section. This could be considered a negative, but I think the language they use to communicate this is really interesting. It says: “Find your fit. Shipping’s on us.”
This accentuates the positives of the situation in a way that Everlane’s existing online audience will already be comfortable with, and its new customers will also immediately understand.