ModCloth is Selling an Era They Missed Out On-Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship - Carnegie Mellon University

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

ModCloth is Selling an Era They Missed Out On

SAN FRANCISCO — An entire wall of ModCloth’s offices here is an inspiration board featuring a collage of images: stills from the Zooey Deschanel television series “New Girl,” photos of Taylor Swift in floral dresses, vintage shots of women in turbans, and selfies by 20-something style bloggers with bangs.

Indeed, if Ms. Deschanel were an online retailer, she might well be ModCloth, the online retailer of vintage-inspired clothing and décor founded by Susan Gregg Koger, 28, and her husband, Eric Koger, 29, that is just over a decade old.

The perpetually girlish, improvisational aesthetic seems to be paying off for the company. It now has 458 employees (some of whom work in Los Angeles and Pittsburgh, and an unusual percentage of whom seem to wear cat’s-eye glasses). There are plans to hire about 100 more, the Kogers said, adding that ModCloth netted more than $100 million in 2012.

It is expanding in other ways as well. Earlier this year ModCloth began offering a larger range of plus-size items, resulting in triple-digit sales growth, Ms. Koger said. On Oct. 7, the company will introduce the first of several private-label lines, also mostly plus-sized, which will include apparel lines, women’s shoes and intimates, all designed in-house.

One of the lines, Bea & Dot, is named for Ms. Koger’s grandmothers. “It has a really playful, fun, quirky aesthetic,” Ms. Koger said, wearing a floral dress and cardigan, her brown hair cut in a pixie. “Our customer will wear these pieces when she wants to stand out and be noticed.”

Playfulness has become a ModCloth hallmark, along with generally moderate prices. There is the striped sleeveless Lend Me Your Spearmint Dress ($44.99) and Rachel Antonoff’s garden print Aerial Perspective Dress ($559.99). Other brands the site carries include Jeffrey Campbell, BB Dakota, Betsey Johnson and Keds. Bold, whimsical prints, like bicycles, town houses, sailboats, elephants and gingham, are popular — all a world away from the sleek silhouettes and elaborate makeup of Fashion Week...Read more»