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Everlane Ventures Into Brick-and-Mortar After Vowing Not To

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Everlane, the once online only retailer known for its transparent supply chain and ethical products, is pursuing brick-and-mortar to reach more consumers in the U.S.

Michael Preysman, Everlane’s CEO and founder, recently announced that Everlane is opening its first flagship store in New York on Dec. 2 and a second flagship store in San Francisco’s Mission District in February, The Washington Post reported.

Located on Prince Street, Everlane’s New York flagship will sell many of the e-tailer’s top products, including cashmere, denim, T-shirts and shoes. Though the company’s new flagships will be on the smaller side—2,000 square feet in New York and 3,000 square feet in San Francisco—Preysman said the new flagships will enable Everlane to create a more interactive and seamless shopping experience for its diverse consumer base.

“Our customers tell us all the time that they want to touch a product before they buy it,” Preysman said to The Washington Post. “We realized we need to have stores if we’re going to grow on a national and global scale.”

In 2011, Preysman established Everlane with one product—a $15 T-shirt—and a mission to foster more radical transparency in the apparel and footwear sectors. To start his business, Preysman found a Los Angeles-based factory to manufacture 1,200 T-shirts, with a production cost of $7.50 each and a retail price of $15 each. Preysman also didn’t cut corners with visibility, enabling consumers to know upfront about product origins and workers’ wages.

“There’s a lot of—for lack of a better word—lying in the retail industry,” Preysman said to the Post. “Why is this shirt 40 percent off and this other one 10 percent off? You don’t know where things are made or how they’re made or what the actual costs are.”

[Read more on e-tailers opening physical stores: Amazon to Open First Brick-and-Mortar Store in Midtown Manhattan]

Once its T-shirts became a hit among consumers, Everlane expanded into other product categories, including ties, sweatshirts and backpacks. Today, the company offers more than 500 products that are consciously manufactured globally.

Everlane operates 13 factories, that each go through a year-long vetting process that includes background checks, interviews and unannounced audits to ensure ethical practices are in place. Factories producing for Everlane are required to have reasonable working hours, pay fair wages to workers and support sustainable business decisions. On the company’s website, consumers can see which factory their items are made in and read about the factory’s production process and environmental efforts.

With its new flagship stores, Everlane says it will be able to continue its supply chain visibility efforts, while allowing consumers to interact with its products in a new retail format. Beyond e-commerce, Everlane has set the bar for other industry members in the space to become more eco-conscious, transparent and ethical with their consumers.

“There was this belief back then that the online experience was far superior to the physical one,” Preysman said. “But as we’ve grown, our brand has become about more than just our products. We’ve created a community.”

Everlane’s move to brick-and-mortar comes on the heels of other e-tailers making the switch to physical stores. With consumers demanding more seamless shopping experiences and services—including buy online, pick up in store, and express returns, e-tailers are realizing the value of having multiple channels—and integrating them to make purchasing journeys easier and more enjoyable for consumers. Online-only brands, including Amazon, Bonobos, Cuyana and Warby Parker have also expanded their retail real estate over the past few years—with interactive pop-ups or permanent stores in urban areas.

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