Eloquii, the plus-size online vertical retailer that was acquired by Walmart Inc. this fall, unveiled on Wednesday its first pop-up shop in Manhattan, a 2,500-square-foot space at 120 Wooster Street in SoHo.
Mariah Chase, Eloquii’s chief executive officer, declined to address whether the brand will eventually be sold on Jet.com or walmart.com. “We’re focused on what we’re doing right now,” she said. “We’ll certainly look at the Walmart portfolio and say, ‘Does this make sense?’ We’re hunkering down and executing the business.
“We hope the [pop-up shop] will be a dry run to a permanent store,” Chase said. “New York is our biggest market in terms of how much revenue it contributes. It delivers the most revenue versus any other geography. We have an office here. It’s the fashion capital. We need to be in New York, and we want to be in New York.”
The Wooster Street location will be Eloquii’s first true street address, Chase said, adding, “We’ve been at Easton Town Center in Columbus, Ohio, and other malls. We’re excited to be on the street and that the opportunity is in Manhattan.”
A permanent store in New York could be in the offing for 2019. The brand will use the SoHo pop-up to refine services such as personal styling and technical fitting, while expanding the product range with more wear to work styles. It will also offer its collaboration with Jason Wu, which launched Nov. 1.
Eloquii is one of the few fashion-forward brands fully dedicated to sizes 14 and above. One of the only other brands with a robust offering for women sizes 14 and higher is Universal Standard; but it’s size inclusive from 6/8 to 30/32 and not entirely focused on the 14 and above-sized customer.
“It was eye-opening how valuable the omnichannel customer is,” Chase said. “When she shops online first and then goes to a store or vice versa, it’s a higher intent customer but you start to see her financial connection and loyalty to the brand. We learned that personal styling is an app and avenue for us. We see the e-commerce business in an MSA [Metropolitan Statistical Area] where we open a pop-up shop. We were concerned that the pop-up was going to cannibalize [e-commerce].”
That hasn’t happened, but rather Eloquii’s pop-ups have allowed the brand to deepen its relationship with consumers. “Having stores and being able to do that on a regular basis, we’re hearing her say, ‘I’ve never had a shopping experience like this’ and ‘I never had a fashion experience where someone offered to hold my bag and get me a Preseco.’ It’s been eye-opening for us,” Chase said.
The pop-up shop gives Eloquii a bird’s-eye view of what motivates consumers. “We launched the Olivia sculpting jean, which is a really a well-constructed pair of skinny denims,” Chase said. “We really got behind it. When we launched it online, the customer was blah. When we put it in stores — customers requested a basic, more elevated denim — it became the number one selling denim in the store. It made us reexamine how we sell and message online.”
Eloquii’s Kady Fit Double Weave pant is expected to be popular at the pop-up shop. “It’s miracle flawless stretch leggings,” Chase said. “We know our girl in New York wants fashion and we’re making sure we’ve got our equity program. She should be able to find what she wants and needs for holidays and parties.”
The SoHo pop-up shop will feature free styling and Beauty and Brunch Sundays tied to self-care events.
“It’s a great lab,” Chase said of the pop-up shop. “Not everything crosses over. We see our store customer and it could be someone who is more work wear focused or wants something a little more conservative, or it could be a woman who wants cool professional work wear. And then we have the customer saying, ‘Give me the latest fashion.'”