Amid cancellations of all sorts — cruise collections to major consumer events to the Met Gala — the digital brand focused on shopping and lifestyle content for women and recently acquired by Vice Media is dropping a collection of 10 loungewear and leisurewear pieces, to be sold online and in stores at Nordstrom and Dillard’s. Later this year, the product will expand to retailer Anthropologie.
“A lot of people are working from home,” a Refinery spokeswoman said. “We thought about delaying the launch, we considered it, but we wanted to offer people what we could.”
Starting off relatively small, the collection is planned around monthly drops that will grow the total number of pieces to 37. The pieces are currently 50 percent made of recycled materials with a goal of 100 percent by August. As of now, the first five drops of apparel, full of slouchy, mix-and-match tops, pants and dresses, is made and will be shipped, come what may with COVID-19, or coronavirus. The collection was manufactured by Komar, based in New Jersey, which made 10,000 pieces in total to start.
“The first five drops are confirmed 100 percent,” said Christene Barberich, Refinery cofounder and global editor in chief. After that, she’s less sure, like the rest of the world.
“I just don’t know. We’re working in a very uncertain space right now,” she added. “We just want to be a supportive partner and keep things moving, if we can.”
Why the company chose to go with traditional retailers instead of a direct-to-consumer model lies in reach. Refinery wanted to go broad with its collection and see how it does outside of its user base.
“If it does well and the response is great, we’ll start to look at different ways we can sell it and different partners,” Barberich said.
Getting into consumer products has been in discussion at Refinery for at least two years, but the current line was developed actively over the last year, with a lot of input from the site’s user base and affiliate marketing and links business, which grew 130 percent year-over-year. “There’s an opportunity to build off of that,” Barberich said.
The lounge/leisure space was targeted because of its performance with shoppers on the site and also separate research, which found that one in five Refinery readers would wear sleepwear everyday if they could, citing comfort and versatility. Barberich linked this to “the phenomena of leggings” — easy to wear, fitting of most body types and stretchy.
“It was interesting to see the reaction and enthusiasm around loungewear, but it was an interesting challenge for us to rethink what it is,” Barberich said. “It’s not just about sitting on the couch watching a movie. It’s about flexible clothing that you can integrate into a closet.
“Coming from our position, we know how much choice there already is out there, Barberich added. “We didn’t want to put more product out there unless it really filled a void.”
With all that in mind, the new refinery pieces are being made in sizes XS to 4X and the price point is relatively low, with pieces priced from $37 to $69. And even with possible lingering supply chain issues due to coronavirus, the company intends to get the pieces to 100 percent recycled materials by August, which would be after the fifth drop.
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