Everlane is an e-commerce fashion startup that designs, produces, and sells luxury closet essentials—think silk blouses, soft v-neck tees, or leather tote bags. The brand was founded in 2010 by Michael Preysman, on the premise that millennials want to know what’s behind the price tag when they shop, and want to feel good about what they buy . When everlane.com first launched in 2011, it sold only one product, a classic cotton tee, for $15 . Today, estimates put sales at $30M by EOY 2015 . I joined Everlane as a member in 2011, and have been fascinated by the brand’s incredible growth and loyal customer following ever since.
How did they do it? They know their core consumers, and have perfectly aligned their business and operating models to uniquely serve this core consumer: the affluent millennial, ages 18-35 .
Everlane creates value by creating beautiful, high-quality closet investments that are affordable and transparently priced.
- Beautiful: The brand is known for its simple yet “unmistakably luxury”  aesthetic that has drawn comparisons to brands like J.Crew and Celine .
- High-quality: Pieces are made by the same factories that high-end designers use, in high-quality materials like silk, cashmere, merino wool, or all-cotton heather.
- Affordable: Everlane prices are typically half the traditional designer retail prices. By being online-only, and through vertical integration, they are able to keep costs low despite the small scale, and can pass savings on to consumers.
- Know what you buy: More than just price and sizes, Everlane tells you exactly where/how a product was made, how much it cost to make and transport, and what margin the brand is earning on top of true cost (compared to a traditional retailer) . This radical transparency philosophy resonates well with and builds trust among its core consumers—the affluent millennials who crave to be informed about what they buy. Below is a sample pricing chart for the Everlane Street Shoe:
Everlane captures value via an innovative operating model that keeps costs low and customer engagement high, which drives up margin, customer lifetime value, and overall sales volume.
No stores: Aside from the occasional pop-ups, Everlane is online-only and sells direct to consumers . This means no rent, no sales associates, and no complicated distribution networks. This works uniquely well for the millennial consumer, who is comfortable (and may even prefer) shopping and interacting with a brand exclusively online.
No middlemen: To keep design and manufacturing costs low, Everlane does design in-house, sources its own materials, and works directly with just a few factories that it hand-picks carefully to meet its production and ethical standards . This close relationship with factories allows Everlane to maintain tight control over the production process, ensuring consistently high quality across products and product lines. Everlane further takes advantage of this relationship asset by showcasing the factory, its workers, and the production process to customers, building customer engagement and connection with the brand via factory tours and fundraisers.
No collections: The average fashion house releases multiple collections a year, typically by season. Everlane, on the other hand, introduces new products one by one, often starting with limited quantities in just a few neutral colors like black, navy, and grey. This way, Everlane is able to experiment as they go, collecting customer feedback and perfecting designs before producing large-scale batches, ensuring that they create a hit every time.
No sales: Basics never go out of style, and Everlane never goes on sale. The brand intentionally makes fewer items than they can sell, minimizing inventory-carrying costs and the need to discount. Shoppers always pay the “true value” for a piece, and Everlane gets to avoid the headaches of anticipating and fulfilling demand spikes.
An incredible marketing team: Though there are no physical stores, Everlane manages to build compelling customer touch points both online and offline. The Everlane marketing team is a core asset to the brand’s success, weaving a compelling and cohesive brand story across product launches, marketing emails, the everlane.com website, and its suite of social media (Everlane employees have been known to answer questions on Reddit , in addition to Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram). A few examples:
- Product launches are accompanied by beautiful photo stories evoking the “effortlessly chic” aesthetic. Photos often feature the designers themselves or the brand’s long-time friends and users, fostering a sense of authentic connection with the brand .
- Highly effective Instagram campaigns, like #whereItravel, which encouraged fans to show off their Everlane products, aesthetics, and summer vacation photos to fellow Everlane followers around the world. The campaign ended with more than 11,000 submissions—a huge level of engagement for a relatively small fan base .
- Black Friday Fund: in line with its anti-consumerism commitment, on Black Friday Everlane pledges to donate all profits to workers at its factories, dedicating funds raised to a specific factory each year. Shoppers visiting the site on Black Friday 2015 got to virtually tour the LA factory, see the production process in action, “meet the people who bring us the products we love” via Employee Spotlights [email campaign I received], and give back through a brand they love and identify with.
Through its business and operating models, Everlane has built a powerful brand that resonates with consumer taste as well as value. Amidst the shrouded, fast-fashion apparel industry, Everlane is a breath of fresh air that is poised to grow far beyond the closet basics it started with in 2011. As it grows and gains more users, however, it will have to constantly adapt and realign its operating model to maintain the authenticity, care, and connection to the product and consumers that are essential to its brand and value proposition.
All photos belong to Everlane.
 Everlane website: https://www.everlane.com/
 Transparent Mission: Everlane: http://www.mr-mag.com/transparent-mission-everlane/
 Everlane expands its reach: http://www.sfchronicle.com/style/article/Everlane-expands-its-reach-6204937.php
 Everlane’s ‘radical transparency’ is e-tailer’s strong suit: http://www.latimes.com/travel/fashion/la-ig-everlane-20140907-story.html
 Can Everlane Really Become the Next J.Crew? http://www.racked.com/2015/10/8/9442455/everlane-expansion
 Reddit thread about 2014 Black Friday Fund: https://www.reddit.com/r/femalefashionadvice/comments/3od6pa/everlane_black_friday_fund_update/
 Sample Everlane product story: https://www.everlane.com/meet-the-artist
 Press about the #whereItravel exhibit: http://www.custommade.com/30-framed-instagram-photo-prints-for-everlanes-whe/by/simplyframed/