The direct-to-consumer sportswear company Senlis has edged into wholesaling and is preparing to introduce peer-to-peer selling and virtual trunk shows.
Launched in July as a DTC brand, Senlis offers easy-to-pack feminine styles. In an interview. Senlis cofounder Sarah Landman said about five brand ambassadors will be selected for a beta test next month and the aim is to have the peer-to-peer selling up-and-running by this summer. Landman also serves as chief executive officer of Solid & Striped, another Burch Creative Capital-supported brand. She oversees both businesses from the same office in Chelsea.
A 15-year veteran in the fashion industry, Landman has known Burch since she was among the first employees hired by his ex-wife Tory, who was in the early stages of her signature company. At that time, the Tory Burch business was run from the designer’s apartment, and Landman proceeded to stay with the company for 10 years. After some time consulting, she reconnected with Chris Burch, which led to her current roles.
In addition to leveraging his supply chain and sourcing, Senlis is using Zenabi, a tech company that Burch invested in, to develop the peer-to-peer platform. Burch declined to pinpoint the investment through a spokeswoman. He is not involved in the day-to-day operations for the brand, she said.
The plan is to set up regional ambassadors — mostly everyday people — who will style Senlis in their own ways, curate their own assortments and sell to their peers. In addition to curating their own virtual shops and trunk shows, they will be able to engage with their community for more of a social aspect, Landman said.
Beyond the commission structure, there will be such incentives as the prospect of collaborating on a collection for top-performing virtual trunk show host, or having a dress in the collection named after you. Landman said, “It’s not focused on influencers or people with a ton of visibility. It’s really meant for anyone who has an eye on fashion and wants to create a business. It could be a college student who want to express their creative freedom, while also making a little money. Or a mother, who stops working. It’s not limited to these influencers, which differentiates it from some of the affiliate programs.”
Two weeks after last summer’s launch, Senlis executives were approached about wholesaling the collection, but opted not to since the more tech-focused approach was in the works. That is still the focus, but this month, 15 specialty stores were given the go-ahead to carry the label such as C. Orrico in Palm Beach and The Holiday in Mobile, Ala. The company will continue to have a pop-ups and in-store trunk shows from time to time with one planned for this summer at Serena & Lily’s new store In Palm Beach.
The brand name was inspired partially by the town of Senlis in France (where Burch renovated a 1608 hôtel particulier for a family home). Visitors to the Senlis site can enter a sweepstakes for a visit to the picturesque town and a three-night stay in Chantilly, France. More than anything the brand name is meant to evoke a romantic feminine image. The name was certainly not meant to benefit Burch’s personal property in any way, Landman said. “It just felt like it made sense. Although the town of Senlis has reached out on social media ever so grateful that it has brought some awareness. Again, we’re a teeny tiny brand at this point. But I think it’s been a nice thing,” she said.