The Anti-Fashion Fashion Company for White Shirts
Elizabeth & Clarke is unique because we don’t follow the practices of the traditional fashion industry. We abhor shopping (for clothing, at least). And instead of using professional models that fuel unrealistic beauty standards, we use regular people in our ads. We have a limited number of choices (3 simple, perfect shirts in each collection). And use the Internet to sell clothes directly to customers without overpriced markups. We refuse to participate in the fashion industry’s deceit.
The Old, Lumbering Retail Industry
Even though that $200 price tag from an upscale department store or trendy brand seems like it should guarantee a quality product, the reality is often different. Typically, the cost of rent for the store, sales commissions, and a multi-million dollar marketing budget are all included in designer items’ prices.
Have you ever needed a high-quality basic piece but could never find one for under $600? Well, me too. And it seems like the market is only becoming increasingly saturated with overpriced items.
If you’re looking for fashionable, but affordable clothes, your choices are limited. Stores such as Zara or H&M offer cheaper alternatives, but the quality is usually not that great. Plus, it’s always so crowded and chaotic! Why is it that every time I want to buy a classic white tee from Club Monaco or J. Crew, it has been discontinued? They think that white tees go out of style way too frequently. There must be a better solution than this!
Look! The Internet!
Elizabeth & Clarke is an online-only brand, which means our production costs are lower than other brands. We produce shirts of the same quality as Alexander Wang, Theyskens’ Theory, and James Perse but without marking up the price too much.
To increase customers and ROI, we decided to shift our business model and begin selling shirts via subscription. By doing this, clients pay for their items upfront, which in turn allows us to produce based on customer demand rather than prior assumptions. Because we don’t hold inventory, we also save on planning, management, storage, and insurance costs. As a new brand, this is a lot of money that we otherwise would have had to spend. Since we pass these savings on to our customers, they get the best deal possible.
The Paradox of Choice
In addition, we release a restricted capsule collection each season instead of the 20 different tee styles and 100 color choices. Barry Schwartz, a psychologist whose work focuses on the connections between economics and psychology, wrote an excellent book as well as gave a TED Talk discussing what he calls The Paradox of Choice. Barry Schwartz’s argues that fewer choices would make us happier in modern Western societies. To highlight this, he walks us through the different steps involved in decision-making. Even something as small as picking a salad dressing from 20 available options can be extremely cognitively tiring. If you’re interested, I would highly recommend checking it out here.
For years, fashion magazine editors and retail store buyers have had to rely on instinct when editing or choosing what items to stock. They recognize this as a service they provide for the consumer. In other words, it’s intentional and not an error. However, the apparel industry’s growth has boomed in recent years with the introduction of fast fashion. For example, SKUs available at a mass price point have gone from about 1,000 to 100,000 to one million in only a few years. Furthermore, the average consumer is expected to do the majority of the work at most stores. With few sales associates and strict return policies, it’s no wonder that many customers feel overwhelmed in stores. The consensus seems to be “You’re only paying $12 for a t-shirt, so what customer service?”.
The white shirt, more so than many items, usually creates a functional use rather than making a fashion statement. We chose to limit our styles each season for this main reason. Our clothing is designed to be versatile and work with many different looks in your wardrobe. By thinking this way, we offer a smaller inventory of high-quality pieces with outstanding customer service. We don’t try to do too many things at once; we specialize in one area and do it extremely well.