Reformation San Francisco

Reformation’s new San Francisco store is in keeping with its minimalist chic aesthetic, but this location is pumped with a heavy dose of technology.

The Mission District space, roughly 3,500 square feet split across two levels, is devoid of mannequins and loud signage. Yes, there are marketing images of product on models, but they are projected on digital screens. And of course there are clothes, but the point of the brick-and-mortar store is to provide convenient shopping with the same ease people enjoy online.

“The whole store runs on technology,” said Reformation founder and chief executive officer Yael Aflalo, who launched the sustainably-minded label in 2009.

Customers, when the store opens Feb. 21, can choose between being helped by an associate or perusing and building their dressing rooms themselves while lounging on a couch with an iPad. The store’s five dressing rooms feature touchscreen mirrors so that inventory — new sizes, colors or styles — can be added to a room with a simple touch. The product is then delivered through what the company is calling a magic wardrobe, or more simply something akin to a trap door with employees running around in the back of the house to fulfill orders in what the company hopes will be a turnaround time of under two minutes.

Phones can be plugged in and music synced so shoppers can try on clothes to the sounds of their own playlists. On the back end, Reformation can learn more about its customers, tracking how many people come into the store, what stockkeeping units did best and which styles were slower to move.

“It functions a lot like e-commerce,” Aflalo said of the store. “You have the ease of the web site where you can easily search, easily find everything, but the fun of the store…. You have both. People always talk about omnichannel and for us, we just have one channel and that’s digital.”

As some retailers shrink their store footprints or close up shop altogether, others such as Reformation see beyond the labels of physical stores or brick and mortar and instead view the landscape as an opportunity for growth.

“We don’t have any retail problems,” Aflalo said. “Our stores are doing really well. I think a lot of companies are pretty old school and they haven’t changed with the times.”

It’s a changing of the guard, Alflalo said of what’s taking place in the broader retail industry.

In a couple months, Reformation expects to have a landing page through its web site for the San Francisco store where shoppers will be able to peruse available items online and then pick them up in-store. Or customers could start building their own dressing rooms online from their homes first before visiting the store.

Future iterations of the tech-forward store would let shoppers provide their cell phone numbers so that they can be texted when their dressing rooms are ready, thereby eliminating the need to wait in a line. Reformation’s developers are also in the midst of building an app that will eventually let shoppers scan the pieces of clothing they’d like to try on.

The tech-enabled features are expected to be rolled out to the company’s existing stores as well as future doors, the specific locations of which the company is not yet discussing. Reformation is set to move its headquarters, currently in Los Angeles, to the Platform retail development in Culver City, Calif., where it will also have another store, which was first announced by the project’s developer. The company declined to discuss the details of Culver City until closer to the openings.

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