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For better or worse, comparisons between newish e-tailer Everlane and oldish retailer American Apparel are unaviodable. Both companies are based in LA, both make affordable basics, both use "real people" in their ads, and, as of August, Everlane has even taken over the iconic American Apparel billboard on Manhattan's Lower East Side. (They claim that was a coincidence.) So this season, as Everlane expands beyond t-shirts and bags for the first time, we're getting a peek at how the two brands might diverge.
At first glance, the new silk blouses and cashmere sweaters look similar to AA's pieces: solid basics with a subtle fashion edge. The collars on the blouse are slightly rounded and feel of-the-moment, but aren't so Peter Pan-y that they feel trendy. The new unisex cardigan is boyfriendy in a casual-cool way, but not so oversized as to make you look an Olsen twin. And while that's American Apparel's MO, too, here are five words you won't find at AA: 100% silk and cashmere.
As Everlane Founder and CEO Michael Preysman puts it, "Our point of view is always a woman who dresses high and low. Before, the "low" was always about finding disposable basics, and we're saying that actually they don't have to be disposable."
Silk blouses, debuting in October
Everlane's goal is to build their company with affordable, high-quality basics. "Piece by piece we're creating a collection of luxury essentials at disruptive prices," says Preysman.
Everlane's prices are very competitive. T-shirts are $15, tanks are $20, the silk blouses will be about $80, and the cashmere sweaters will be about $100. That's significantly more affordable than designer counterparts from, say, Alexander Wang's T line, and comparable even with giant fast-fashion offerings from the likes of Uniqlo, for example.
In fact, Uniqlo actually seems like a better comparison for Everlane than American Apparel—at least in terms of brand philosophy. "The reason Everlane was started...is this desire to ask why do things work the way they do, and how can we do them better," says Preysman. Like Uniqlo, Everlane is a fashion company that's as focused on innovation as it is on style.
And also like Uniqlo, the company is in expansion mode, albeit on a significantly smaller scale. Preysman says they're taking things slow: "From an expansion standpoint, we think about it from a longterm view. We don't want to go too fast. This year has been all about tops for men and women. Next year is going to be moving into dresses, stripes, and we'll eventually move into bottoms, but that's probably in a couple years."
· Everlane [Official site]
· Everlane Wants To Be the New American Apparel. Here's How They Do Cheap Chic So Well [Racked]
· Is Uniqlo Having a Fashion Identity Crisis? [Racked]