Why this wildly popular clothing brand models its business off companies like Apple and Pixar

Michael Preysman EverlaneCourtesy of Michael PreysmanEverlane founder and CEO, Michael Preysman.

Many new businesses look to successful brands in the same industry for inspiration and strategies they can mirror.

Not Everlane, an online clothing retailer that has gained a cult following since releasing its first T-shirt in 2011. Rather, the company takes its lead from
Silicon Valley giant Apple and massively successful movie studio Pixar.

Everlane puts its community first, starting each product brainstorm with questions about how and where customers would utilise a certain item of clothing. By placing the customer top of mind from the get-go, Everlane avoids the missing the mark the way brands who rely primarily on data and financials tend to do.

“Your designer should understand your customer. Your designer doesn’t understand your customer, then that’s the problem,”
Everlane founder and CEO Michael Preysman told Quartz.”Don’t try to solve it by building a merchandising team that is going to stand for the customer. The right organisation should be able to do it for both. I think Pixar does this really well.”

The clothing company also copies Apple’s approach to designing and re-designing products. Even after a release, Everlane listens to customer feedback and builds updated products that are better than before, much like Apple developing new iPhones.

And it’s working. While brands similar to Everlane, such as Gap and J.Crew, struggle to keep customers interested and willing to pay full price, Everlane’s strategy has consumers lining up in droves — literally. Its first pair of pants
garnered a waitlist 12,000 people deep.

Everlane’s 2015 sales are
estimated at around $35 million, more than double the $12 million it reported in 2013.

Everlane meetingEverlane/FacebookA presentation at Everlane.

The company also treats its product launches with the same vigour that Apple uses to unveil each new iPhone. Customers can check the website
to see which items are on the way and join a waitlist to purchase them weeks in advance.
The fanfare works for two reasons: It generates excitement and anticipation around new products, and it underscores the time and care the brand takes in designing each new item.

Similar to the months of research Apple puts into crafting a new iPhone or MacBook with updated features and careful attention to detail, Everlane goes through multiple iterations of every T-shirt, dress, and pair of shoes. Each item is carefully designed to be a hit — the company doesn’t take chances on sloppy choices that may or may not be well-liked by customers.

By announcing new items with gusto, Everlane shows customers how much it cares about every single product, in turn inspiring them to purchase. In part, this plays into millennials’ desire for well-made, ethically sourced products. Today’s shoppers yearn for products that aren’t just stylish, but have a backstory. Everlane delivers just that.

“We don’t want fashion. We want lasting styles,” Preysman told Quartz.

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