A look at two retailers using bold colors and visuals as part of their strategies.
Dude’s Factory, Berlin
Even fast fashion, or in this case fast design, takes time. Before Arnaud Loix van Hooff and Heribert Willmerdinger were ready to launch their brand and shop of the same name, Dude’s Factory, they needed two years to work out the right concept — only to have it change monthly. But that’s what Dude’s Factory is all about: Each month, the brand asks a different artist or artistic team to redesign the streetwear brands’ entire visuals for its collection of T-shirts, sweaters and hoodies.
Dude’s Factory’s owners also invite the artists to come up with extraordinary product ideas, like oversize wooden children’s cars or mutated eagle-shaped skateboards, two examples from the first cooperations with Peachbeach and 110 Special Black. They also want their customers to be creative. A special online tool lets anyone design and purchase their own T-shirt on Dude’s Factory’s Web site. While external influences are a substantial part of the brand, everything comes back together in Dude’s Factory’s in-house factory, located in the shop’s basement. — Jennifer Wiebking
Monday-Friday, Noon-8 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Marine Layer, San Francisco
Selling soft casual shirts of beech wood and cotton fiber that are prewashed four times and guaranteed to fit is how retailer Marine Layer is looking to make a mark on the basics fashion business.
It’s been a year and a half since Michael Natenshon began the upstart vertical retailer in his living room with $44,000 charged to credit cards and an e-commerce Web site. In September, a 500-square-foot store was added on Chestnut Street in the well-heeled Marina District and home to the Golden Gate Yacht Club that will host the 2013 America’s Cup regatta.
While rents on Chestnut Street are at a premium, the neighborhood’s popularity has been worth the $9-a-square-foot rent.
“As a new brand, we are not a destination shop yet,” said Natenshon, who’s been joined in the business by longtime friend Adam Lynch. “So we chose to spend more on rent and nothing on additional marketing. Our storefront and word of mouth is how we have generated traffic.”
Both 32 years old, Natenshon jettisoned an investment banking career and Lynch gave up work in public policy for Marine Layer, which has as its logo a hammock strung between Golden Gate Bridge towers. With limited edition styles for men and women, $35 T-shirts, $65 polos and $70 hoodies comprise the core merchandise that is sewn and washed in the Bay Area from fabric woven in Los Angeles of cotton and beach wood fiber that was produced by Austria’s Lenzing AG.
Last month, Marine Layer turned a profit. Other measures of success have been repeat shoppers online who have been in the San Francisco shop.
“Since opening the store in September, we have increased our customer database by 250 percent,” Natenshon said.— Joanna Ramey
2209 Chestnut Street
San Francisco 94123
Monday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m.; Tuesday-Friday, 8 a.m.-6 p.m.