It appears the new trend is to launch your brand online, sell your wares there, and then (maybe) go into traditional retail later. This summer Bonobos (the super irreverent men’s brand that sells exclusively online) launched a pop-up shop in the Hamptons. Around the same time Piperlime (a division of Gap, Inc.) decided to extend their message and created a pop-up in SoHo. For both, the stores were an opportunity for customers to touch and feel and experience brands that until this point have been solely accessible via the world wide web.
Another example of this phenomenon is the 2 year old label Company of We. Started in 2009 by Christopher Crawford and Jayzel Samonte, they decided to start designing and producing their line as they “became increasingly conflicted with the relevance of $700.00 shorts in our economically altered lives.” Company of We launched and quickly sold out of many items in their inaugural collection. Distributing online allowed them to keep prices reasonable, while still delivering well designed, well made, and on trend pieces for guys. Saks also picked up the collection, giving the brand it’s first brick & mortar experience.
But with the notion that customers want the chance to experience your brand’s character, Company of We has now created a holiday pop-up in Manhattan. Crawford told the NYT as much in a recent review of the store: “It breathes life into our digital roots”. This is a truth a lot of emerging designers are realizing as they work to get in touch with their fans and consumers.
Now for the fun part… the clothes! The pieces have a great mix of dressy (think coats) and comfortable (think slouchy and soft fabrics). I bought a great cotton sweater from one of their first collections, and it’s something I can wear to work or to cocktails.
For Fall/Winter the toggle coat (here in navy), the layered t-shirts, and the super soft striped Alpaca sweater are favorites. There are a variety of outwear, knit, and pant options — displayed in a well designed lookbook.
Company of We designs for versatility and accessibility, and has succeeded on all fronts. I can’t wait to see their inspiration for Spring/Sumer 2011.