According to Davin Gentry, who cofounded streetwear line Diet Starts Monday with John Geiger, although their retail and restaurant concept became a fixture for creatives in Washington, D.C., after it launched in May of 2017, there were never plans to keep that space open for more than three months. But because of its success, and a landlord who wanted to bide time so he could find another tenant, it remained open through the end of 2018.
“We could have kept the space going, but for it to really work it required us to be there all the time,” said Gentry. “But for us to grow the brand the way we want to grow the brand, we knew we had to shut it down. It was tough for us to walk away from the space, but in order to plant seeds everywhere, we had to uproot.”
For the team behind Diet Starts Monday, which doesn’t wholesale, the road to expansion means global pop-up activations that will either be stand-alone spaces or stores within larger stores. And they are kicking things off with a pop-up at Patron of the New on Feb. 11 that will feature flannels, trucker jackets, hoodies and ski masks covered with Diet Starts Monday graphics and will only be available in store.
These types of activations aren’t completely new for the company — last year they hosted retail experiences in Miami during Art Basel at Alchemist, in Philadelphia at Lapstone & Hammer and in Sao Paulo, Brazil, for a collaboration with Rider — but Gentry said the goal for 2019 is to do around 10. Gentry said they are currently planning for a pop-up within Fred Segal in Los Angeles and one in Atlanta.
This shift is reflective of how many streetwear brands, including Joseph Robinson’s Joe FreshGoods, are handling retail and wholesale. Instead of showing at Agenda and building up stockists, they are opting for activations in different cities. Supreme helped set the no-wholesale blueprint, but the newer generation of brands is interested in temporary retail spaces, interacting directly with its fans and creating an experience.
Gentry said they determine which cities they go to based on e-commerce sales, but they also like to enter new markets to build brand awareness. Brazil, for example, was its 30th most popular market, but after its Rider collaboration and Sao Paulo pop-up it became its 10th most popular. With its pop-ups, Diet tries to make things unique and larger than life, but also intimate and interactive with exclusive product that’s available for a limited amount of time.
It’s similar to what Diet does on its e-commerce site. They release mini capsules once or twice a month on Mondays that are only available for 24 hours. But Gentry believes their success depends on balancing being accessible with being hard to get.
“Sometimes we will make 700 or 500 of one item, and other times we will make 50. It just depends,” said Gentry. “There are some items that we try to keep in stock as much as possible and then there are some we want to be extremely limited. We know when it’s too much and when we are getting close to overdoing it.”
Diet Starts Monday targeted a broader audience with its partnership with Five Four, which released last year, where T-shirts retailed around $20, knits were priced around $45 and bottoms were around $55. But the company has found its pricing sweet spot in what Gentry called the “midlevel high fashion price point. T-shirts retail from $65 to $90; sweatshirts retail for around $200.
“We are priced high enough to be in Barneys, but we would be one of the more affordable brands there,” said Gentry.
He thinks Diet has the potential to get really big without losing its luster and it hopes to do that through retail activations, exploring new product categories — Gentry said the brand’s name lends itself to that — and more collaborations.
“We definitely don’t want it to become one of those brands that gets acquired for $20 million and then gets played out and you don’t hear from it a year later,” said Gentry. “We want to be a brand that can scale to be a multimillion-dollar brand and exist for a long time. I think we can do that without overproducing and still having limited availability.”