The disruption of retail continues as fashion goes to the office
Two fast-growing disruptors — one that rents clothes and the other that rents co-working office spaces — have entered into a partnership.
Clothing rental service Rent the Runway has teamed up with WeWork to install drop-off boxes with self-service technology in the lobbies at 15 WeWork locations in six cities: Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami, New York City, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C. Runway shoppers will be able to leave their rental returns in the box and, using the technology, also order new items. Previously, Rent the Runway subscribers only had access to the drop-off boxes at the company’s five brick-and-mortar locations (New York City, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, D.C., and Los Angeles).
“This is really just the beginning,” said Jennifer Hyman, CEO, Rent the Runway, told Bloomberg. “We have subscribers in many places throughout the U.S. and with WeWork’s massive footprint, there’s huge opportunity to grow this drop-box network.”
As part of the collaboration, Rent the Runway will open pop-up shops in several of the WeWork locations, allowing members to browse the latest fashions and take some items home by using the self-checkout technology on the retailer’s app. WeWork members will also receive discounted Rent the Runway memberships.
Rent the Runway was founded in 2009 as an online site where women could rent designer apparel for special occasions. But it has broadened its assortment to include everyday wear, for work and play. It also has greatly expanded its audience by moving beyond one-time rentals to include two monthly subscription plans.
WeWork CFO Artie Minson said that the partnership is one more way the company is moving into retail. In June, WeWork launched a retail concept, WeMrkt, at one of its locations in downtown Manhattan. The small shop sells a curated selection of merchandise, exclusively to the company’s members, with the products made by member companies. The concept, which has since expanded to other locations, is all about promoting members, according to Minson.
“We will offer our member companies an entirely unique channel of distribution for their products and goods, and we’re excited to be able to help them in this way,” he said.
Fashion is personal. Customers want to feel the fabrics and see the fashion on their bodies. Going in the physical retail stores and trying on clothes and building an outfit with a stylist is the only way this happens. Amazon and online retailers cannot give the full fashion experience to the consumer period. Michael Sapir, CEO, Sapir Real Estate Development
TravisMathew expands into Texas
TravisMathew has opened its doors in Texas.
The Southern California-based men’s clothing brand has made its Texas debut at the Domain Northside center in Austin. It’s the company’s ninth store to date, with an additional location set to open in Plano, Texas, later this year.
Similar to TravisMathew’s other retail stores, the Austin location is experiential, with modern architecture and such in-store entertainment features as televisions playing sporting events and a vintage table-top video game console. There is also a glass ping-pong table.
Founded in 2007, the brand designs and sells premium men’s apparel for work and play, drawing inspiration from Southern California’s culture and lifestyle. TravisMathew clothing is sold online and in over two thousand stores, including department stores, such as Nordstrom, country clubs and resorts.
“The Texas market has been integral in the growth of TravisMathew outside of Southern California,” says TravisMathew co-founder and CEO, Travis Brasher.
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Coldwater Creek making brick-and-mortar comeback
Coldwater Creek is once again opening physical stores.
The women’s specialty apparel retailer has opened a store at Market Street in The Woodlands, Texas. The location is the company’s fifth since it filed for bankruptcy and closed all its stores in 2014.
Coldwater Creek re-entered physical space in 2017, in Burlington, Mass., which was followed by locations in Oklahoma City (July 2018), Leawood, Kansas (August 2018), and Albuquerque, New Mexico in September 2018. It will open an additional location this year, in Houston, Texas.
“After re-launching the business in 2014 as a direct-to-consumer brand, we have been focused on finding ways to serve customers anywhere, anytime and in any way they choose, said Dave Walde, CEO of Coldwater Creek. “This store represents an exciting opportunity to reconnect with long-time customers and allows us to introduce others to the new Coldwater Creek. These new customers can then conveniently shop us online, over the phone, or by visiting a store again.”
The Woodlands store features technology-enabled associates and a dedicated digital shopping area where customers can shop the brand’s entire assortment online. Coldwater Creek offers free shipping and free returns for all orders placed from the store.
“Customers today have a variety of preferences when it comes to the shopping experience, including those who want to touch, feel and try on product before making a purchase,” said Brenda Koskinen, Coldwater Creek president and chief merchandising officer. “This beautiful Coldwater Creek store will allow customers to experience the merchandise and outstanding service that sets us apart, in a new and exciting setting.
The company’s retail expansion is continuing with the help of Chicago-based design firm RGLA Solutions.
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