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Online leader in the US moves offline

US-based fashion brand, Everlane, has opened its first bricks-and-mortar store in New York City, with another store to open in San Francisco next February.

It’s a significant step for the business, which started as a pureplay online retailer in 2011.

Founder Michael Preysman long swore he would never open a physical Everlane store: “We are going to shut the company down before we go to physical retail,” he told the New York Times in 2012.

Slowly but surely, however, the business has been experimenting with bricks-and-mortar retail through experiential pop-ups.

Over the past two years, Everlane has opened a ‘Cashmere Cabin’ and a ‘Shoe Park’ – the store was lined wall-to-wall with shoes in every size and customers were required to take theirs off before entering the store.

Most recently, the retailer operated a six-week pop-up within the department store chain, Nordstrom.

These experiments helped Everlane pin down the mix of products, services and unique experiences it wanted to bring to its own bricks-and-mortar stores.

The store in New York will host talks, workshops and performances in addition selling the brand’s range of modern basics for men and women.

Though Everlane started selling just one style of t-shirt, it now offers more than 500 products, including everything from jeans to jumpers, shoes and accessories.

Every item is priced transparently, so customers know exactly how much the materials, labour and transport cost, what Everlane charges, and how it stacks up to traditional retail prices.

In many cases, Everlane charges half of what traditional retailers would.

Preysman refers to this as ‘radical transparency’, a practice that has underpinned the brand’s popularity with consumers, as well as its rationale for not discounting.

There’s also an ethical component to it, as the retailer also tells customers where each item was made and shares behind-the-scenes photos and videos of the factory.

Everlane only works with factories that pay fair wages, offer reasonable working hours and make environmentally-friendly decisions.

It currently works with around two dozen factories, which have all gone through an extensive vetting process, including interviews and unannounced site visits.

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