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Fashion
They may not all succeed, but a new class of merchants deserves an “A” for at least one notable accomplishment: They tore up the old retail guide books and rewrote what the industry should be.

These feisty young startups emerged in the wake of thousands of store closures in 2018, taking advantage of operational oversights and outdated merchandising concepts. They put underused resources to work, broke down basic human needs into emotional concepts and eliminated many of the more tedious aspects of shopping.

And the products they sell, for the most part, aren’t the least bit new. They, like emerging merchants before them, just fine-tuned what has been fine-tuned. Here’s to retail’s class of 2019.

 

Allbirds shoes. This sneaker brand has been getting notice for classic yet contemporary-looking styles that eschew labels and glitz in favor of earth-friendly materials and practical designs. Rather than synthetics, these sneakers are made from bountiful wool — but that’s just the start. Other materials include recycled bottles, castor bean oil, tree fibers (Including eucalyptus pulp) and sugar cane. The price points are pretty sweet too, at $95 for most styles.

Aurate jewelry. Jewelry buying can often be intimidating for the buyer, so most merchants focus on the event from the vantage point of problem-solving — sparkly things mean love, heart-shaped things mean commitment, etc. Aurate — which operates four stores as well as online — stands apart by treating all jewelry buyers as educated and responsible shoppers. It lets the designs speak for themselves, while it speaks to sustainability and resourcing. Aurate tracks all the diamonds it sells, for example, and its 14k gold is sourced from conflict-free suppliers.

Away luggage. Away describes its luggage as “thoughtful,” but it’s also mindful of its commercial role. The pieces are lightweight, highly maneuverable and with optional built-in batteries that can be ejected before checking the bag for flight. That’s great for the traveler, but Away also wants to leave an imprint as it travels the world. So it has partnered with Peace Direct, a nonprofit organization building peace in areas of conflict around the world.

IMAGE PROVIDED BY AWAY

Burrow couches. When you live in an apartment in the city, moving furniture up sharp-angled stairways can be so prohibitively arduous that some renters pass on major furniture pieces, such as couches. Casper mattress recognized this issue with its pop-up beds, and Burrow followed in 2017 with its ready-to-assemble couches. No tools are needed to put together these handsomely designed pieces, which come in varying sizes and arrive in easy-to-transport boxes.

Batch lifestyle products. Batch is like a retail lab for up-and-coming designers of home décor and lifestyle items, with the result being an entire room in a box. Online, one can purchase a fully appointed room or even an apartment at a reduced-package price. A kitchen/dining area with table, chairs, tabletop items, cutlery and even cookbooks carries a package price of $4,000, while individually the items would sell for $5,423. At its San Francisco shop, Batch immerses the shopper in carefully appointed living spaces where every item, down to the shoes in the closets, is for sale.

Glossier beauty products. Created by a group of beauty editors, the online-only Glossier sells cosmetics that are formulated in-house and designed for practical, “pared-down” use. The focus is on the product users, not on marketing, so the website, the messaging and the packaging is minimized (why pay for a box and throw-away applicator?). All of this helps keep costs low and accessible to Glossier shoppers.

Helix mattresses. The boxed mattress concept so astutely recognized a consumer need that it is now a successful retail segment, which means the players need to stand apart from each other. Helix does so by customizing its mattresses based on the buyer’s sleeping style and preferences. It starts with an online “sleep quiz” that gauges the number of sleepers per bed, their sizes, how they sleep (back, side, toss-and-turn) and the degree of back pain with which they wake. Helix then suggests mattresses (at varying price points) to meet those needs.

Ministry of Supply apparel. It’s not stretch pants, but Ministry of Supply is aiming for the stretch-pants feel with its dress clothing, engineered to move like we do, even in the office. The maker of men’s and women’s apparel aims for what it calls “performance professional” with clothing that duplicates the capabilities of workout apparel. Its scientifically designed pants, shirts and suits are wrinkle-free, breathable, unrestrictive and (in some cases) even heated. It’s the answer to yoga pants at work, with taste.

Privé Revaux sunglasses. Celebrity-allure is a characteristic of sunglasses, but the founder of Privé Revaux wanted to make the correlation direct. He seeks the input of influential celebrities and David Schottenstein, Dave Osokow, Jamie Foxx, Ashley Benson, and Hailee Steinfeld are all co-founders. Yet the glasses, of which there are more than 100 styles, can be purchased by pretty much everyone, at a flat price of $29.95 a pair.

Photo courtesy of Prive RevauxPHOTO: PRIVE REVAUX

Yumble meal kits for kids. The meal kit industry struggled in 2018 as it tried to find a big enough market of consumers willing to spend a little more money for pre-prepped food they’d still have to cook themselves. Yumble differs in that it identified a very specific, and painfully relevant, need: feeding fussy kids ages 1 to 12. The best part for busy parents: Meals, such as chicken pops (think healthy nuggets) and Holy Moly Ravioli (served plain), arrive fully cooked.

PHOTO COURTESY OF YUMBLE

These startups prove that in retail, raising one’s hand for attention is not enough — you’ve got to stand on the desk and shout out your answers. It’ll get noisy, and some may not be standing as tall by the end of 2019, but each brand in this class of merchants is worth recognizing and even shopping.

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Fashion

Privé Revaux, the affordable fashion eyewear brand founded by a handful of Hollywood players, is marking its first year in business with some big moves.

The brand, which also counts Hailee Steinfeld, Ashley Benson, Dave Osokow and entrepreneur David Schottenstein as investors, announced last month that TSG Consumer Partners, a leading private equity firm, has acquired a significant minority stake in the company. Terms of the transaction were not disclosed, though TSG has also backed brands like REVOLVE, vitaminwater, Smashbox Cosmetics and PAIGE.

The new investment comes as Privé Revaux announces some ambitious new strategies to grow the brand. First launched last June as an e-commerce site, the company opened their first brick-and-mortar store, a 5400 square-foot space in the heart of Times Square, six months later.

Co-founder Schottenstein tells Women’s Wear Daily that the goal is to open up in other major cities, noting that the company is finalizing a location for a store in Los Angeles, and looking at an international location as well. Privé Revaux “kiosks” will also start expanding in malls here in the U.S. Currently, there are a dozen Privé Revaux-branded kiosks in operation, including four in Miami. Eleven more are rolling out in Los Angeles this month.

With more than 100 frame styles that are all priced at $29.95, the affordable luxury brand counts Jennifer Lopez, Cara Delevingne, Katie Holmes and Hailey Baldwin as fans. The brand released a capsule collection with Riverdale star Madelaine Petsch this year, and Schottenstein says more celebrity collaborations are “in the works,” including capsules with co-founders, Steinfeld and Benson.

Foxx, meantime, says the new investment shows the company is moving in the right direction. “Collaborating with TSG is an honor,” the actor says in a press release. “One look at their portfolio and you know these guys mean business. I couldn’t be more excited about Privé Revaux’s future.”

Link to original article : https://variety.com/2018/music/lifestyle/prive-revaux-anniversary-jamie-foxx-eyewear-line-1202927892/

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Fashion

Privé Eyewear wants to shake up the eyewear category online with its brand of $29.95 sunglasses — and it’s enlisted Amazon and a handful of celebrities to help.

The well-heeled start-up wants to undercut the “under $100” business model that’s dominated eyewear online since Warby Parker hit the scene in 2010 by offering hundreds of styles that cost less than a third of that price. On May 15, Privé Eyewear’s digital flagship at Privegoods.com will begin to pre-sell 115 stockkeeping units, or sku’s, of its $29.95 sunglasses, which have names such as The Warrior, The Escobar or The Godfather. Exclusive launch partner Amazon will launch the brand on its homepage at Amazon.com June 2.

Founder David Schottenstein has tapped a handful of celebrity partners to help spread the word via their respective social media channels and participate in the design and marketing of product. Jamie Foxx, Hailee Steinfeld, Ashley Benson and Jeremy Piven are all partners in the venture, as well as celebrity stylists Rob Zangardi and Mariel Haenn, who have joined Privé as co-creative directors. Schottenstein declined to say how much of a stake each has in the company but confirmed they all have equity.

Schottenstein is not shy about his feelings on the current state of the eyewear sector.

 

“If you look at the sunglass market and the way it’s set up, it’s probably one of the only items people spend $300 to $500 on that they lose with incredible frequency. It’s almost like a commodity…and the margins are just absurd,” Schottenstein said, adding that he still thinks even $100 is too much for a pair of sunglasses.

He recounted a story Foxx told him about wearing a pair of sunglasses and getting “blown up with compliments” — and Foxx bought them at a Chevron gas station for $12. This — and the fact that the eyewear category online still has not seen enough disruption for Schottenstein’s liking — became the impetus for starting the company.

“I knew that if I searched hard enough I could find a factory that manufactures [quality] eyewear….And I knew that I could charge less than $30. It’s ambitious, but if you know the industry, as far as what the costs are [it’s doable],” Schottenstein said, adding that all Privé’s eyewear is assembled by hand in a factory in China.

Ashley Benson for Privé Eyewear.
Ashley Benson for Privé Eyewear. (WWD)

The model might sound similar to any number of brands that launch with an e-commerce store, but there’s one key difference: The direct-to-consumer players that came before Privé avoided wholesale partnerships because their entire businesses were predicated on “cutting out the middle man.” For those players, working with a retailer would reduce already lower than industry average margins to nearly nonexistent. Instead of eventually opening freestanding stores — as most of these firms have done — Privé is linking up with the e-tail powerhouse Amazon right off the bat to build scale. Amazon does not have a stake in the venture.

Schottenstein — whose family started DSW and whose cousin Jay is head of American Eagle Outfitters — isn’t worried about the pressure on margins the tie-up will cause. The visibility, brand awareness and sheer number of sales that will take place as a result of selling through Amazon outweigh the hit Privé will take on profits.

“We probably have the smallest margin in the sunglasses business with what we’re charging, but the fact is I don’t care. I don’t need to make a ton of money on each pair. I want to sell a ton of sunglasses,” said Schottenstein, who set up his own investment fund after earlier launching several other Internet ventures, including men’s custom clothiers Astor & Black. “Because the price point is so aggressive, the market size that we’re so accessible to is significantly bigger than a lot of these other companies.”

In other words, what Privé lacks in margin it will make up for in volume.

And Amazon is confident about the formula, too, so much so that the brand will appear on the retailer’s homepage the day of launch.

“They’re choosing a path to reach customers directly through their own site and Amazon — and that’s becoming more of a trend as they disrupt some of the older, traditional business models,” Kyle Walker, category leader for Amazon Exclusives, told WWD on Wednesday. He added that of the hundreds of brands the program has launched over the past two years, Privé is the first one exclusively dedicated to eyewear.

“Their brand has a vision to disrupt the eyeglass space. It’s a quality product at a very modest price point, which is appealing to us. It gives us the ability to bring it to the Amazon customer, who we know will get a great deal,” Walker said. From a dollar perspective, Amazon has “very high hopes” that Privé will be one of the platform’s more successful launches of the year.

Hailee Steinfeld for Privé Eyewear.
Hailee Steinfeld for Privé Eyewear. (WWD)

Walker was unable to disclose a percentage but maintained that apparel and accessories represent a significant portion of the top brands that Amazon Exclusives has launched since the program was introduced in March 2015. He pointed to Beta Brand, Tower Paddle Boards expanding its collection to include apparel and accessories and Scottevest, a line of tech savvy apparel, as notable launches for Amazon Exclusives, which is comprised almost entirely of direct-to-consumer e-commerce businesses.

Privé Eyewear’s price point puts it directly in competition with another mega-sized retailer: Wal-Mart, which has in the last few months become increasingly aggressive about expanding its own e-commerce, especially in fashion. Amazon could be feeling a little bit of pressure as a result. Most notably, Wal-Mart purchased Amazon competitor Jet for $3.3 billion last year, but March saw the acquisition of ModCloth followed by Moosejaw in February and then the unveiling of internal investment arm Store No. 8. The new fund will focus on building online retail businesses, and although the sale has yet to be finalized, it’s rumored that a $300 million acquisition for direct to consumer menswear brand Bonobos is in the works.

“We also consider brands our customers as well — it’s why we built Amazon Exclusives….The idea was to help emerging brand owners…[and] drive marketing and visibility on Amazon and help them take advantage of seller programs to reach customers worldwide,” Walker said.

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