“I have long admired the work that Natalie has done to revolutionize the fashion industry with Net-a-porter. I am excited and honored for her to join and help further Everlane as a change agent in creating the industry we all want — one that is more ethical, inclusive and drives environmental progress,” said Michael Preysman, founder and chief executive officer of Everlane.
Everlane, which was founded in 2011, built its foundation on delivering ethical, affordable essentials. However, the company has faced numerous work culture and transparency issues in the past year. In December 2019, Everlane’s remote customer service team revealed plans to unionize. At the end of March 2020, most of them had been laid off in what Everlane described as pandemic-related cost saving measures. Employees described it as union busting and were publicly supported by Sen. Bernie Sanders.
Everlane recently named Jonathan Mildenhall, chief marketing officer of Dave and cofounder and CEO of TwentyFirstCenturyBrand, along with Matt Leeds, partner at L Catterton, to its board of directors. L Catterton invested in Everlane last September as part of a reported $85 million fundraising round. In total, there are six members on the company’s board.
In addition, Sophie Bambuck, most recently Nike’s global vice president of brand marketing for Nike Sportswear, has been named Everlane’s first chief marketing officer, and Matt Gehring has joined Everlane as general manager of e-commerce. Gehring had been senior vice president of growth at Rothy’s.
Bambuck’s initial focus will be to accelerate Everlane’s mission, scale the brand to reach new audiences and continue to foster loyalty with its customer base. She will lead a team across both brand marketing and creative and reports to Preysman.
In an e-mail interview, Massenet was asked whether she had made a personal investment in Everlane, and what attracted her to the brand.
“I first became a fan of Everlane as a consumer and subsequently through a meaningful investment made via Imaginary, the venture firm I cofounded with Nick Brown to back breakthrough consumer brands and retail platforms. Everlane was one of our first large investments from our first fund.” She doesn’t have a personal investment in the brand.
She explained that she was attracted to Everlane’s transparency mission, while acknowledging it’s a difficult road to take.
“Everlane pioneered transparency in the fashion industry and it is needed now more than ever. Everlane has an authentic vision to challenge the ethical and environmental practices of the industry. I have always enjoyed a challenge and Everlane’s mission is perhaps the hardest to crack. It is not a simple task to create product consumers want to wear at an accessible price while also reimagining the supply chain and business model. I believe this change can happen step-by-step with a clear vision until it becomes a new standard. The company’s journey has only just begun to become the next great all American apparel brand,” she said.
Massenet, who is in the process of moving from London to New York City, said she will support Preysman and the executive team to first operationalize and then scale the brand. “Over the past 20 years, I have worked with brands to deliver iconic products, build best-in-class customer experiences, drive innovation in the industry and hire world-class leadership teams,” she said.
In response to whether she plans to get involved in some of the company’s transparency issues, she said, “Throughout my career, I’ve been fortunate to have great mentors to guide me and I will pay it forward with Everlane. Growing pains are part of the journey, but it’s resilience that creates strong brands. The brand is committed to holding true to its values and I’m committed to bringing my expertise to them to help them on their journey.”
Originally, Everlane had resisted opening stores, but has since opened seven brick-and-mortar locations in Austin, Texas; Boston; Stanford Shopping Center; San Francisco; Manhattan and Brooklyn, N.Y., and Los Angeles. Asked if she felt they should expand their retail fleet, she said, “Yes, the Everlane community is one that continues to have incredible loyalty to the brand. Pre-pandemic there were lines out the door for their stores. Even during the challenges of COVID-19, Everlane was able to maintain strong conversion at its stores. While the future of the industry will rely on a mix of digital strategies, retail will continue to play an important role in helping people connect with the brand.
“There is a misconception that direct-to-consumer should mean online only. If you are a consumer business you need to be where your consumer is and that means that retail and even wholesale is relevant. The most important thing, though, for a business today to focus on is digital-first,” she said.
As for her opinion of the product and what she sees as the company’s strengths, she said, “Right now people are seeking both value and purpose with the items they purchase and Everlane delivers on both. The brand has redefined industry standards of offering honest, high-quality products at accessible prices. People want to feel good about their purchase not only because it makes them look better, but it also makes them feel better about themselves.”
When asked where Everlane could most use her help, Massenet sees international growth as a real opportunity. “Everlane is only just beginning its work internationally which presents a huge opportunity. The products and mission resonate globally — this brand has massive potential to scale.”
In 2000, Massenet founded fashion online retailer Net-a-porter. In the year before Massenet stepped down from her role in 2015 following the Yoox Net-a-porter merger, the Net-a-porter Group recorded net revenues of almost $1 billion. In 2017, Massenet became non-executive co-chairman of Farfetch, a role she left last August. She and Brown, formerly of 14W, founded Imaginary Ventures in 2018, focusing on innovations at the intersection of retail and technology. Its investments include Glossier, Camp, Bread Beauty Supply, Dirty Lemon, Universal Standard, Goodfair, Mejuri and Skims.
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