At a time when fashion is in a state of flux, we're looking to the industry's next generation of influencers as a guiding light. This New York Fashion Week, Refinery29's Future of American Fashion series is highlighting the designers, brands, and retailers we're betting on big. The future starts here.
In mid-August, a select set of editors and tastemakers received the same nondescript save the date: “Sept 6 NYC Details to Come Everlane.”
With a date slated for the beginning of New York Fashion Week, would Everlane be holding its first show ever? Or is this just building up hype around another covetable launch?
Everlane has followed a strict and much-hyped model of product drops, whether it be backless leather loafers or extremely versatile wide-leg cropped pants, which its founder Michael Preysman acknowledges is a “bit by bit” approach. “I think in the way that people consume most things on the web, they’re consuming them bit by bit, informational piece by informational piece, reading a news article. It’s not like you look at 30 news articles at once the way a newspaper works; it’s more of a feed, and you can see one piece of content and one piece of information at a time,” he says, comparing this to the way his customers shop.
Measured drops have certainly worked for Everlane, as anyone who has waited for the colorful summer dresses or easy weekenders can attest. “When you launch everything in a group you kind of make one big bet,” he says. “We’re doing a lot of smaller bets at once, which has proven to be better for us.”
Denim Reigns Supreme
And what’s Preysman betting on next? Denim. Launching at the beginning of September, the brand is continuing its California-minimal aesthetic with one of the hallmarks of American fashion. “It’s a core part of the American uniform and we have never had it, and in some ways looking back it should have been the second product we launched,” he admits. “But, denim was just so critical to get right — the right fit, the right fabric — and we added one more layer to it, the right factory, so the three F's. We started with that right factory that was sustainable, literally zero impact on the environment from a cut, wash, sew perspective.”
Avid fans can expect the right mix of chic and simple and the transparency they've come to expect from Everlane. “With day-to-day life being so casual, it’s not as formal as it was 20 years ago. Comfort matters, and we’re definitely pushing that, but we really want to move away from what I would call lower quality, stretchier jeans,” Preysman says, putting the nix on jeggings. “We want something that has value and long-lastingness to it. I think, there’s nothing worse than when you wear a pair of denim and you’ve got to wash it every two wears because it blows out or bags.” He expects the same kind of fervor around this launch that the brand saw with its shoes and backpacks. Which is to say: a lot.
The Move To Stores IRL
Still, Preysman knows that hotly anticipated product drops are only one part of the Everlane experience in an ever-changing retail landscape. “I think the challenge for sure has been building customer awareness and getting people to feel comfortable buying from a brand online they’ve never touched or seen before. We’ve been facing that since day one,” he says, noting the success he's seen in the brand's New York and San Francisco showrooms. But don’t expect Everlane to pop up in a shopping district near you just yet. “Before it was like, I don’t know what I’m going to buy, so I’m going to walk through the department store, or go to a mall. That department store is now Instagram,” says Preysman. “You are searching and spending time on Instagram, you find that product you love and you’re like, Oh my god, my friend wore it, or, Emily Weiss wore it.”
Preysman's attraction to brick-and-mortar isn’t just for commerce, either; he mentions the need for connection and how important that is, especially now. “We’re very community driven, so mission is critical to what we do, and mission is hard to do in an online-only world. You go to rallies for a reason, because you want to be surrounded by people that have similar-minded views and as a group you can make a bigger difference than as individuals sitting quietly,” he says. This extends to who Everlane aligns itself with, too, whether it be Opening Ceremony, which the brand partnered with on its first-ever designer collaboration, or Gucci — Everlane came to its defense in the ongoing legal battle with Forever 21 over knockoffs.
As for initiatives going forward, Preysman says this: “This year, we did 100% Human and in total we’ve raised almost $400,000 for the ACLU, HRC, and Equality Now, and we want to keep driving towards giving back to the community in different ways, giving back to social missions that align strongly with our values of making a difference and doing the right thing.”