This is not the new cliche claim of “new retail” or “the future of retail.” This is retail, my friends. It’s happening right now.

Usually my lackadaisical swipes through friends’ and celebrities’ Instagram Stories are completely forgettable. This morning, however, I was reduced to teeny-bopper squeals when I saw Everlane announce that they are opening their very first permanent retail location in San Francisco.

First thought: Oh em squee, how much are flights to SFO right now?
Second thought: Clicks to bricks just got that much more real.

Kudos to CEO Michael Preysman for steering an agile enough ship to make this brick-and-mortar move, though this isn’t uncharted territory for Everlane. Their Lab space at their HQ functions as a testing ground for new product, and multiple pop-ups in NYC proved that physical retail is a viable path for this middleman-eliminating, online-first fashion retailer.

I can say from personal experience that wandering through their Shoe Park last summer — an indoor garden in Soho with Everlane’s footwear collection tucked between plants featuring Glossier lip balms and a Blue Bottle Coffee bar — was experiential retail at its finest.

One can only imagine how Instagrammable their flagship will be.

“A permanent flagship store breaks new ground for Everlane; it’s joining the ranks of brands like Warby Parker and Bonobos that started out with successful e-commerce before putting down any real estate roots.” - Racked

Perhaps more importantly than their own experimental retail proof-of-concept, Everlane has the benefit of following the playbook of other like-minded retailers with cult followings, namely, Glossier and ELOQUII, who took the same steps Everlane did to test the flagship waters.

The water’s warm.

Glossier’s pop-ups in NYC and LA led to the opening of their shop in the penthouse of their Soho offices, where pink-jumpsuit-clad everygirl models cheerfully help customers sample makeup as the scent of rose Byredo candles fills the showroom.

ELOQUII is famed for being the plus-sized phoenix to rise from The Limited’s ashes (check out this Glossy podcast with CEO Mariah Chase for the dish) and used a pop-up shop in DC in March to beta-test the concept. They’ll be opening a permanent store in Columbus, Ohio in September, much to the delight of their fans:

“Permanent or not, this brick-and-mortar is a monumental win for women of every shape and size,” writes Revelist. “Eloquii stocks sizes 14-28, and it offers a hell of a lot more options than your standard retailers (where you can choose between a skin-tight tube-sock dress and a floral potato sack).”

Whereas legacy big-box retailers have struggled to effectively migrate to e-commerce websites that don’t make you want to throw your laptop off a building, these online-first, customer-savvy retailers turn the funnel on its head.

  • ELOQUII created beautiful, well-made clothes for an influential group of female shoppers who weren’t being served well by other fashion lines.
  • Glossier’s first skincare product was born out of hundreds of blog comments asking what readers wanted from a dream cleanser.
  • Everlane changed luxury fashion retail itself by removing every middleman to reduce product markup, and took cameras to each of its factories to ensure ethical production.

Are you seeing a trend?

When you create that compelling of an online retail brand, of course shoppers will want to engage with you in a physical space, with store associates who are heavily vetted for brand loyalty and well-versed in the products their fans are obsessed with, enjoying the thrill of getting to touch and try on the items they’re seen on Instagram for months.

This is not the new cliche claim of “new retail” or “the future of retail.” This is retail, my friends. It’s happening right now, in beautiful pop-ups tucked away in Soho and Venice Beach, and being planned in the boardrooms of every cult online retailer, and happening in boutique shops in your neighborhood. This is the retail Dor signed up for, and these are the retailers we’re thrilled to cheer on.

Hope you’re taking as many notes as I am.

Photo by michael on Unsplash