Stone Cold Fox has made the decision to sever ties with its wholesale business in favor of going direct-to-consumer in a move that brings the company closer to its roots as a custom design house.
Stone Cold Fox, after hearing customer feedback lamenting the brand’s high prices, made the decision to eliminate its wholesale accounts, totaling roughly 50. The company will sell via its online store, Abbot Kinney Boulevard outpost and a mobile app. Plans are also in the works to begin a pop-up strategy, which would take the brand to various parts of the U.S., most likely beginning with the summer in New York and potentially Newport Beach or Laguna Beach, offering pieces exclusive to each location. Australia over the Christmas holiday is also being considered. Other markets the company thinks it could do well in include San Francisco and Texas.
“We just wanted to really keep the integrity of the brand and the quality of our fabrics because we love silk and we wanted to keep it made in Los Angeles, and a lot of our feedback was our items were getting too high-priced,” said cofounder Cydney Morris.
The strategy should keep pricing about 50 percent less than what they were at wholesale. The goal is to have everything retail for less than $300, with a standard dress going for $250 and long gowns for around $290. In contrast, some pieces at retailers were going for nearly $400. The company also regularly held sample sales and other sales to cycle through unsold inventory — moves it believes it can reduce or get rid of entirely with this shift.
“We didn’t want to be super mass-marketed and we wanted to keep the special feel of Stone Cold Fox,” added cofounder Dallas Wand. “We want to be more connected with our customers. This also gives us the opportunity creatively to come up with more fun collaborations or do more one-of-a-kind pieces and have it be superspecial for everyone.”
The strategy will be supported by improvements made to the mobile app and web site, which are streamlining the customer service process, making it easier to answer questions such as sizing.
Morris called the overall effort a bid to put forth “a lot more personality” from the brand.
The move in some ways occurs amid a broader shift within the industry as some question the role of trade shows in the business as more and more brands launch or expand their direct businesses.
“I don’t see trade shows and wholesale really coming back and making a turn because when you go direct-to-consumer, you can get really personal with your customer and you can provide your customer with a whole shopping experience,” Wand said. “When you wholesale, you’re kind of losing that because they [retailers] have their own [strategy] going on. When you do direct-to-consumer, they’re coming back to you all the time. I think that’s important. People want some type of connection or experience.”
Morris added the restrictions in delivering collections so far in advance to buyers can be circumvented with the company’s decision.
“We can now work [in a] way more personable way, instead of doing it so far ahead,” Morris said. “It always felt weird for us to come out with fall in August. That’s when summer’s just starting.”
The move to direct in some ways restores the custom craftsmanship element to Stone Cold Fox that was the starting point for the brand in 2009 when Morris and Wand founded the label as a blog in college. They began doing custom work and built the business from there. With the market becoming saturated with so many niche brands and the rise of social media since Stone Cold Fox’s founding, Morris and Wand think this will help restore the specialty aspect to the label.
“With Instagram, that’s what put us on the market, but at the same time it really changed the whole industry, especially within the last two years,” Wand said. “Everyone can be a blogger. Everyone can have a line.”