Los Angeles label Ragdoll carved a niche for itself when founder Lisa Larson started her line as a direct-to-consumer, online business selling essentials for the European cool girl.
Today the four-year-old brand has a store on 3rd Street and is eyeing another, continues on a growth trajectory that saw a 40 percent rise in revenue from the prior year and has largely built a business via a stable of loyal influencers and immediates.
Ragdoll began working with Nordstrom earlier this year and is now in 10 of the retailer’s doors along with its online shop. Although Larson set out to build a direct-to-consumer business, she expanded into wholesale about a month in after being approached by retailers such as Fred Segal and Satine. The line’s wholesale business totals about 300 accounts.
“Our customer is quite a broad age group,” Larson said. “We have a younger, trendier girl, but we also have an older, more sophisticated woman who likes to look chic and be trendy but not too trendy. I definitely design for myself first and foremost because I’ve always been into basics. Before I started my line, I would get more excited if I found a great sweater than a crazy skirt to go out in at night. That was my idea — to make a good, essentials line for the cool, European girl who likes to wear Acne and Isabel Marant.”
With the industry’s shift to immediates and the concept of see-now-buy-now, Larson said she was prepared, having already pivoted to that model nearly from the business’ start. She was at first met with skepticism by some buyers before it more recently began to take hold.
“This concept took quite a while for some [buyers] to understand, but this is really how fashion works and gives Lisa the opportunity to put trends on the map as they develop,” said Ragdoll chief operating officer Nadine Bloemer. “She has a really strong sense with color, cut and style evolving.”
“You want it now and it’s all over Instagram and influencers are wearing it,” Larson said. “The consumer doesn’t want to see it and wait six months for it. It’s a slow change because it’s not going to happen overnight and, for us, we can see every year that it’s easier and that buyers get it. In the beginning, a few of our buyers were hesitant, but for every season that goes by we feel we have an advantage.”
About two-and-a-half years ago Larson was scouting real estate for a studio and office and ended up finding a space to work that also doubled as a store on Third Street.
The month she opened the store, she saw online sales double, proving the point that people will confidently buy from a brand online if they know it has a physical presence, Larson said.
Last year, Ragdoll tried its hand at a five-month pop-up on Bleecker Street and would have stayed longer were it not for the start of construction on the building it was housed in. The company is still looking at other options in New York, Larson said, and is also now mulling an additional Los Angeles location on the west side for next year. The value of the stores, Bloemer said, is in the instant feedback the company gets from customers, likening it to a “test drive” with influencers — who the company gifts, but never pays — popping in quite frequently.
“A big part that has made our company grow the way that is has is our ambassadors wearing Ragdoll,” Larson said. “With the world we’re living in with Instagram, it’s been super helpful for our growth.”
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