It’s time to grow up as ModCloth refines its strategy under the leadership of chief executive officer Matthew Kaness.
The former Urban Outfitters executive took the reins at the company in January following the announcement that Eric Koger, who cofounded ModCloth with his wife and chief creative officer Susan Koger, was stepping down.
The company’s had a period of self-reflection since Kaness came on board, during which time he spent listening to and learning from employees and customers.
“Our aspiration at ModCloth, the way we think about ourselves, is a digital-first, multichannel lifestyle retailer, which is a mouthful,” Kaness said. “The digital-first thing for me is important because the company has grown up online. We’re a digital native brand. We’re 13 years old. An adolescent. We aspire for adulthood as a brand. We’ve got five years of awkward adolescence in front of us.”
The privately held company, headquartered in San Francisco with additional offices in Pittsburgh and Los Angeles, said earlier this year that it did about $150 million in net revenue in 2014.
The company made strides earlier this year to better understand its customer by getting offline. ModCloth tested a pop-up concept in the lobby of its L.A. office in April garnering the interest of some 5,000 shoppers who signed up for the event and brought new insights into its customer base.
“All these little details that as an online-only retailer, it’s hard to get that kind of feedback,” Kaness said of the pop-up, “and it’s also just visceral. It’s emotional. It’s more palpable when it’s human. There’s something to it like the low-fi meets high-fi tech experience that they complement each other.”
The success of the pop-up led to the opening of Fit Shop in the summer, which opened as one-part showroom and one part traditional store where jewelry, handbags, home decor and other items are in stock and available for purchase. The company’s now actively looking for real estate for stores to open next year. There’s also been the launch of ModCloth’s own branded collection and the eradication of the term “plus-size” from its site in a bid to make the brand more inclusive.
A focus on fit and sizing is part of what drove ModCloth to launch and expand its own branded collection. This month it tapped Lizz Wasserman, based out of the company’s Los Angeles office, to be its first fashion director.
Kaness noted the company’s successes in being able to build a following, particularly as a brand that’s retro and vintage inspired. But the trick now is to further refine and make improvements when it comes to silhouettes, fabrications and product assortment.
“One of the biggest things that we’ve already started working on, and that Lizz is going to be a force multiplier for, is to really accelerate our ability as merchants to provide outfits and offers and items that speak to more women individually,” Kaness said. “And then, from that, for our own brand specifically from a design perspective there’s a lot of stories we want to tell and a lot of merchandising concepts — bridal, ath-leisure, intimates, home — things that from a proprietary development we want to go faster with.”