When direct-to-consumer fashion brand Everlane launched The Day Heel, a 2-inch block-heeled shoe in 2017, its footwear category instantly took off. The made-in-Italy offering was designed to play up the style/comfort quotient with an accompanying #alldamnday hashtag. The consumer response was immediate and unexpected.
“It blew away expectations,” said Everlane’s GM of footwear and accessories, Alison Melville. “We had a waitlist of over 20,000 at one point. We spent an entire year playing catch-up on the demand.”
As a result, the company expanded the Day Collection to include a flat, boot and higher heel.
“It’s rooted in the idea that your shoe can take you throughout your entire day while still looking put-together and without compromising on comfort,” CEO and founder Michael Preysman told FN. “This idea is clearly resonating with customers, with the [line] continuing to be one of our top sellers.”
The well-known San Francisco Bay Area brand launched online-only in November 2011 with an ethical manufacturing approach and a “radical transparency” model that immediately set it apart from other luxury brands.
Watch on FN
This transparency concept cuts out the middleman and allows consumers to see the exact cost breakdown for all products. For instance, The Day Heel in black leather retails for $150. According to Everlane’s model, this shoe would cost $305 at traditional retail. The firm also provides details on the factories that manufacture its products. In this case, the heel is made in the small town of Montopoli in Val D’Arno, Italy. The factory employees 32 people.
Everlane launched its first shoe, The Modern Loafer, in 2014, and shoes are one of the company’s top-performing categories today.
“Our shoe collection offers consumers a true promise of comfort, quality, style and value, and we have a shoe for everyone,” Preysman added.
Chelsea boots, sandals, slingbacks, tassel loafers, leather slippers as well as edgier styles such as mules, booties and pointed-toe flats fill out its assortment.
Melville explained, “We are focused in our approach, and we don’t design by ticking the assort- ment boxes. We aren’t designing 50 styles to get to five. We try to decide what we want from the beginning.”
Everlane designers keep a company principle — less is better — top of mind while remaining thoughtful when it comes to the shoes’ details.
“We have an incredible value proposition,” Melville added. “That has a wide appeal, and we haven’t reached all of those customers yet.”
Since its inception, Everlane has expanded from online to brick-and- mortar, with flagship stores in San Francisco’s Mission District and New York’s Soho neighborhood, allowing the retailer to further its dialogue with the consumer.
“We were born out of digital, and it continues to be the mainstay of our sales,” said Melville. “From a customer experience perspective, [physical] retail is this amazing opportunity to hear her reaction and have that emotional moment in a much more palpable way than online.”
In addition to its appealing pricing model and strong ethics, Everlane is gaining traction with its commitment to the environment.
In October 2018, the company announced that it would eliminate all virgin plastic in its supply chain and use only recycled plastic in all products, packaging, offices and stores by 2021. And the shoe category is a key part of this commitment.
“Most footwear contains around 10 plastic components, which is not obvious to consumers,” said Preysman. “We see a huge opportunity to push sustainability forward in our [shoes] by developing recycled materials and plastic alternatives while still maintaining the same quality, comfort and style. It’s hard, but we have a strong team dedicated to making this happen.”
AI, Robots & More Trends That Will Define Retail Tech in 2019
7 Ways Brands and Retailers Are Adapting to the Changing Retail Environment
3 Hot Topics the Footwear Industry Will Focus On in 2019