This article was originally published on Mashable.
A basic t-shirt costs $7.50 to make and could retail for $50 or $60 at a boutique. That math just didn't add up for Michael Preysman.
"We decided to get into the industry online-only to cut out all the traditional costs of retail and bring that same beautiful shirt to market for $15 online," says Preysman.
Preysman and co-founder Jesse Farmer launched Everlane in 2010 with a referral invite list that quickly went viral. The fledgling brand signed up 60,000 people in five days—but with just 1,500 t-shirts on hand, the company initiated a wait list.
The Everlane team's focus was quality without markup, but they realized consumers wanted to know where their products came from. So began the brand's emphasis on transparency, something that was missing in the fashion and retail market.
"Through the process, we offer transparency through the supply chain—you know where it was made, how much it cost and how much you're paying," says Preysman.
With 100,000 customers and counting, Everlane is certainly resonating with consumers and ushering in a new age of retail economics. "What we stand for and who we are has not changed since launch," says Preysman, adding that the presentation, branding and product quality has improved over time. "We're maniacal about quality."
The company initially launched with high-end, basic apparel under $100, but because Everlane is trying to compress markups in the industry as much as possible, it recently ventured into higher price points. Earlier this year, Everlane launched silks, Oxfords and leather totes that cost upwards of $425 and would arguably cost $1,000 elsewhere. Next year, the brand is branching out to outerwear and shoes.
But don't hold your breath waiting for a sale on Everlane.com—the company's entire value proposition circumvents the need for sales. Most apparel brands have a 5x to 20x markup and turn to sales to deplete excess inventory. The self-proclaimed "fashion outsiders" at Everlane produce less than they need so there's never overstock, which keeps prices low year-round (and demand high).
Now that quality products, excellent manufacturers and consumer trust are in place, the challenge remains growing the brand and spreading awareness, which can be a challenge for ecommerce brands. Everlane has experimented with a few pop-up shops so consumers can touch the brand's goods, but the company primarily relies on word-of-mouth buzz and press to reach new audiences. It's a strategy that appears to be working, as Everlane has organically grown its audience, its revenues and its product line.
"We focus on experience and loyalty, and everything else follows from that," says Preysman. "We're not growing for the sake of growing."
Watch the video above to hear how Preysman and Co. have grown Everlane into a fashion-disrupting powerhouse.
Photo: Courtesy of Mashable