With its online business substantially outpacing store sales, Chicago-based contemporary fashion retailer Active Endeavors plans to close all its units and become strictly an online retailer.
"The stores had become a bit of an albatross," said chief executive officer Drew Davis. He noted that his Web site, activeendeavors.com, generates more than $10 million in sales each year and continues to grow by 20 to 30 percent annually. Sales at his stores were flat.
Initially opening as a women's and men's shop for outdoor gear with labels such as The North Face and Patagonia in 1985, Active Endeavors added fashion items in the Nineties, most recently carrying trendy pieces from Trovata, Rachel Pally, Rebecca Taylor and Daftbird.
At its peak, the company grew to five stores, with two in Chicago, one each in suburban Glencoe and Evanston and one in Boulder, Colo. But it gained a national and international audience as an online retailer, launching its e-commerce site in 2003. This month, the company closed its last Chicago store on Armitage Avenue and the one in Glencoe. Its third unit in Evanston will operate as an outlet through February, and then will close.
The response was both immediate and surprising, said Davis, who now has some 150,000 regular online customers, most from the East and West Coasts. About 20 percent of his Web-based business is international with a mere 2 percent of its clients from the Midwest. "Without the distractions of the myriad tasks it takes to run brick-and-mortar stores, we will be able to focus on bringing the most exciting collections to a very popular Web site," Davis said, noting plans to add Abaeté, Helmut Lang and Hanky Panky to the site this spring.
Davis also cited increased competition at his Chicago location on Armitage Avenue, where Intermix recently opened, and sluggish sales at specialty stores in general as factors in his decision.
"I don't know if it's a trend, but it's a reality," he said. "Brick-and-mortar stores are struggling and online is still growing.
"When we started in 2003, it was dicey," he said of doing business online. "Now people trust it."
From overseeing America’s fastest-growing speciality retailers to codifying cool, WWD talked to the women who are leading the way for the future of beauty. Check out our Instagram Stories to see how these women built today and are creating tomorrow. (📸: @hannah_khymych) #wwdbeauty
For @laperlalingerie's spring 2018 show, the brand chose to host their event at @thevenetianmacao. With Chinese megastars @bingbing_fan and @hubing in attendance, La Perla debuted a rock ‘n’ roll-inspired collection. The show marked the start of Sands Macao Fashion Week, which runs from October 19 to 24 — the city’s first such event. Pictured here are models backstage with glimmering eyes. #wwdfashion (📷: Cheuk-Yin To)
Trending for spring 2018: top stitch design. Gone are the days of stitch just for seams — designers are using the once-minimal detail to create strong decorative elements. (📷: Paola Testa; Styled by @andrew_shang) #wwdfashion
@tradesy is turning the concept of a showroom upside down with its new space in Santa Monica. Here, the company plans to hold events, art exhibits and a showcase rare fashion pieces like this Louis Vuitton boxing set. Get all the details on Tradesy’s first showroom on WWD.com. #wwdnews
Spotted last night at the @erdem x @hm launch event: Kate Bosworth, Rashida Jones, Kirsten Dunst and Selma Blair. The party, which took place in LA, also marked the opening of their pop-up shop. “I was interested in creating a collection that wasn’t in any way disposable. It was about pieces you’d create and keep forever, things that have a permanence to it,” designer Erdem Moralioglu said. #wwdeye (📷: Katie Jones)
Renee Zellweger in yellow in 2001 and again in 2017. Chosen as one of the 12 @pantone Leading Spring Colors (and dubbed “Meadowlark”), it only makes sense that the bright hue stands the test of time and is making a resurgence this season, seen already on stars like @blakelively and @gigihadid. (📷: Donato Sardello & @rexfeatures) #wwdfashion #tbt
Dior’s 70th anniversary celebration continues with a new exhibition at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto. “Christian Dior,” which is scheduled to run through March 18, takes a look at the founders tenure from 1947 to 1057 and feature 40 designs. Pictured here is an evening gown from the Ailée, fall 1948-49 haute couture collection. #wwdfashion (📷: Brian Boyle)