After a year of testing its physical store model, ModCloth has found its physical retail sweet spot: Austin. The brand has revealed that it will open its first permanent store in the Texas city in the coming months, but has yet to share additional details.
The San Francisco-based brand has thus far been primarily e-commerce, selling retro-minded women’s clothes in expanded sizes. A year ago, after hiring new chief executive officer Matt Kaness, ModCloth began testing a fit shop in San Francisco. The model is able to let customers try a wide range of its assortment by offering only one piece in each size and shipping the pieces to customers’ homes. It also emphasizes a “high-touch” approach that encourages one-on-one fitting and styling advice from ModCloth store associates.
It expanded to other cities in what ModCloth called its “IRL” tour, based off digital shorthand for “in real life.”
“A little over a year ago, we embarked on what became a six-city tour to experiment with the future of offline for ModCloth,” said Kaness. “Our community has voted resoundingly ‘yes!’ for us to have a permanent offline experience, and we’ve honed our ModCloth store model through this experimentation. I couldn’t be prouder of the ModCloth team. As is our practice, we’ll learn from this first one, and go from there.”
Ultimately, he said, he aspires to have a national rollout of permanent ModCloth stores.
He said Austin is one of ModCloth’s best online markets, and the two-month IRL pop-up there earlier this year was a success.
“Austin’s style is eclectic, quirky and the local community is very social and loves to show their individuality,” Kaness said.
Regarding the unconventional model of try, then ship, he said there has been “little-to-no resistance,” adding that the demographic of women visiting the pop-ups has been broader than its online business. “It gives me confidence that we can continue to grow and expand our appeal to a wider audience.”
This October also marks the first collection from ModCloth’s new fashion director, Lizz Wasserman, after ModCloth introduced its first in-house line of ModCloth-branded apparel a year ago to coincide with the opening of the San Francisco fit shop. The line is offered in sizes XXS to 4X, and will be featured prominently in the new store.