The online lingerie start-up that's been aiming to upend Victoria's Secret since it launched in 2011 is hoping its newest venture will be a major move toward clipping the wings of the giant intimates powerhouse.
On April 5, Adore Me will open its first retail store, in New York City. Like trendy e-commerce start-ups Warby Parker, Bonobos and Gilt, the lingerie company will offer its wares not in a stand-alone shop but in a showroom in its West 39th Street Manhattan headquarters.
Although Victoria's Secret currently controls nearly 62 percent of the intimate apparel market, according to IBISWorld, Adore Me believes that recreating its online personalized shopping strategy with a unique, curated, by-appointment-only experience in physical stores will revolutionize the way people shop for lingerie and thereby challenge L Brands' flagship brand.
While being a purely online play presents some challenges, such as customers' not truly knowing the fit and feel of the products, Adore Me says it pulled in $43 million in revenue last year, up from $16.2 million in 2014.
Last year the company was ranked No. 14 on the Inc. 500 list of fastest-growing companies in the U.S. and named the second fastest-growing company in retail and the second fastest-growing company in New York City. It is also one of Business Insider's Companies Revolutionizing Retail and Top Retailers to Watch in 2016.
A spokesperson for Victoria's Secret did not immediately return calls.
"Adore Me has been disrupting the lingerie industry [all along], thanks to its ability to create a personalized experience online," said Sharon Klapka, the company's vice president of business and brand development. She explains that when shopping on the site, each Adore Me shopper gets a curated lingerie showroom tailored for their specific style and size preferences, ensuring they don't get lost in a sea of lingerie.
In their new store, she said, shoppers will get a "one-on-one" 45-minute consultation with a lingerie expert who will listen to their style needs, help them find their true bra size and help find the perfect lingerie fit for them.
"We strongly believe this is a highly engaging experience with an unmatched added value in today's lingerie shopping landscape," Klapka said. "Particularly when the appointment is completely free of charge and you can buy the perfect set for only $39.95."
Purchases will be placed online through an iPad at the store and shipped directly to the customer.
The announcement to open an office showroom comes less than a month after Adore Me launched a three-day appointment-only pop-up store in the penthouse suite at the Hudson Hotel in New York City to unveil its Valentine's Day collection.
"It was a great way to test how we could translate our super-customized experience offline," Klapka said. "The response was overwhelming. We booked about 50 appointments during those three days."
The company advertised their pop-up by reaching out to the 6.5 million women in Adore Me's online network, as well as its 1-million-plus Facebook followers.
"We have such an online DNA, so it got us thinking about things we never had to think about before, like hanger appeal," Klapka said. "Until then, everything was always on a model."
Later this year the company plans to test pop-ups in other major cities, like Chicago and California, Klapka said, and is setting its sights on opening up Adore Me-branded bricks-and-mortar stores.