Retail experts predict this year will end with nearly 7,000 store closings across the U.S., but Everlane is joining the growing list of online companies opening brick and mortar stores. Known for selling ethically-made clothing and accessories at affordable prices, the company opened its first physical store in New York City last week.
The move marks a huge departure from when Everlane co-founder and CEO Michael Preysman told The New York Times Magazine in 2012: "We are going to shut the company down before we go to physical retail."
"When we started six years ago, we thought we could do this online only. What we found is, customers like to touch things before they buy them. You know, especially products when it's cashmere, when it's nice quality," Preysman said Tuesday on "CBS This Morning."
Founded in 2011, the company with about 100 employees is also trying to bring its "mission to life" in the stores.
"It's really an opportunity to bring the mission to life… the ethics, the transparency. We tell you the cost of everything we make and then what you're paying so you can see that markup and we tell you the stories of our factories, and we want people to have a space where we can actually tell those stories in real life, not just online," Preysman said.
Fast Company estimates Everlane earned $100 million in revenue last year, and Preysman said the retailer has been doubling sales each year for the past three years.
Tranparent pricing is a big pillar for the company, and the more than 500 styles available will show a breakdown of the material, hardware, labor costs, among others, and show how much Everlane is charging for the item as compared to traditional retailers.
"So imagine that you know when you buy our cashmere, you know the factory where it came from, you know how many workers work there. You know that we've done all the right audits and every product you can feel comfortable buying from Everlane. And it's affordable," Preysman said.
The products are made in places where it's "best for that country," according to Preysman.
"So all of our shoes are made in Italy. We have cashmere that's – comes out of inner Mongolia. We make T-shirts in Los Angeles and there's a lot now happening in Vietnam. So denim, we found one of the cleanest factories in the world, and it's made just outside Ho Chi Minh City," he said.
Preysman said their target consumer is "anyone who wants to know where their product comes from," and customers' ages range from 18 to 65 years old.
"It's about a state of mind. It's about wanting to know, it's about wanting value, it's about wanting to get quality," Preysman said. "And we're really trying to make quality products that last and there's a real shift in consumers nowadays."