Denim brand Revtown is finding ways to fit into an already crowded apparel market.
The retailer’s founders, including CEO Henry Stafford, all had experience working at athletic apparel retailers, such as Under Armour Inc. and Lululemon Athletica Inc., and wanted to break away from that category while using their product knowledge in it.
Before launching RevtownUSA.com, the retailer spent a year in 2016 conducting research before it made any of its products live. That included consumer research about fabric and fit—initially focusing on men’s jeans. “The men’s denim market was less competitive with fewer barriers to entry,” Stafford says.
“We saw all these digitally native retailers coming out with eyewear, shoes, etc. with really high-quality, well-made stuff, delivered to your home,” he says. “We thought if we did that with denim, that could be a real win.”
Revtown surveyed 10,000 male consumers on how jeans usually fit, the kinds of jeans they already have, how frequently they buy jeans and where they wear jeans (such as at work or going out), among other metrics, which gave the retailer insights into fabrics, fits and the fact more work places are allowing people to wear jeans.
After that, it spent another year developing the fabric. Many brands use cotton-based denim with added stretch, Stafford says, but Revtown uses the same type of yarn that’s in yoga pants and weaves it into the denim. “It creates this strong fabric that’s incredibly flexible,” he says.
Armed with fabric and consumer insights, the retailer launched in early 2018 with its $79 men’s jeans. Since its launch, Revtown has grown six to seven times in online sales, Stafford says, without revealing specifics. In addition, Revtown has grown its web traffic 1,073.1%, from 12,930 visits in May 2018 to 151,680 in October 2019, according to data from web measurement firm Similar Web Ltd.
“We’ll continue to add to that, but we’re pleased with our start since we’re less than 2 years old,” Stafford says about its sales.
Given the initial growth, it launched women’s jeans about two months ago after it conducted the same kind of initial consumer research.
Much larger denim retailers in the Digital Commerce 360 2019 Top 1000 and Next 1000 are growing at a more modest rate. Levi Strauss & Co. (No. 232) grew its 2018 online sales 18.0%, a slowdown from 2017 when its growth was 22.0%. Same with Lucky Brand (No. 74), whose growth shrank to 10.2%, compared with 2017’s growth of 36.1%. True Religion (No. 1034) is the opposite, growing 39.4% in 2018 compared with 2017’s 13.0% growth, according to Digital Commerce 360 Research.
Collectively, the denim retailers analyzed in the Top 1000 and Next 1000 grew 2018 online sales 14%, a drop from 17% in 2017.
The right fit for Revtown
RevtownUSA.com built its site on a Shopify platform and added a digital tailor, a jeans-fitting tool it developed in house. “There are a lot of variables to jeans: rise, stretch, fabric type. Our fit tool is just for our jeans because we know exactly how our jeans measure, and we’ve tested this on thousands of bodies,” Stafford says.
A consumer answers a few questions—preferred jeans style and measurements for height, weight and usual jeans size—and the digital tailor provides the size he should order. The retailer boasts 95% accuracy of the tool, but it’s an ever-developing tool based on return rates, Stafford says. Revtown’s return rates are low, he adds.
“We believe, because of our tool, we can get our return rates in the single digits in the not-too-distant future,” Stafford says.
If a customer does need to return a pair, the retailer offers free returns—as well as free shipping on all orders—to its Indianapolis-based fulfillment center. With that centralized location, Revtown can deliver orders within two days, Stafford says.
Revtown drives awareness and sales with Nordstrom and Goop
Although Revtown started as a web-only retailer, it saw the potential of reaching shoppers in stores, Stafford says. In late 2018, it started selling its men’s jeans in Nordstrom Inc. stores (No. 18 in the Top 1000) and eventually plans to sell its women’s jeans there too.
While Revtown declined to say how much of its sales are done in stores versus online, Stafford says the goal is for its direct-to-consumer business to be more than 80% of its total revenue—and Revtown is within that goal this year.
To reach another market both online and in store, Revtown joined forces with lifestyle brand Goop a couple weeks ago. It is selling one style of men’s jeans and one style of women’s jeans in Goop’s pop-up shops in Chicago and New York City, as well as online at Goop.com.
“They know their customer well and they focus on someone that’s curious and wants what’s new and what’s next,” says Jen Carcich, senior director of women’s at Revtown. “And they see how innovative we are in the denim space.”
Its products will remain online and in the pop-up shops through the first two weeks of January. And then it will re-evaluate to see how its products fared with Goop. “Our goal isn’t hundreds of partners, we want a really focused group, and if there’s a long-term partnership opportunity there, we will go for it,” Stafford says.
Another way Revtown gets the word out is through the usual channels, such as Instagram and Facebook, but also through podcast advertising. It partnered with the Joe Rogan Experience podcast, in which host Joe Rogan advocates for the jeans and drives traffic to RevtownUSA.com with a discount code.
Revtown also partners with local/micro influencers in its top-selling areas—New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Boston, Austin and San Francisco—to drive shoppers to both its website and Nordstrom. The influencers will go to Nordstrom to try on and buy jeans, share their experience with the jeans and also post about wearing the jeans.
Revtown plans for the future
Revtown is not settling down anytime soon and has many projects in the pipeline, Stafford says. It is treating its women’s line like its own startup business, and is working to drive awareness and get to know its female consumers through social media marketing, among other efforts, Stafford says, without revealing more.
“We’re pleased with our success, but the majority of people in this country have not heard of us,” he says.
Still, Revtown is getting “great traction” in locations it has not focused on marketing, such as Canada and the U.K. Although the retailer ships internationally, it does not advertise this feature. “We need to pay attention to that and think about putting some marketing dollars on that,” Stafford says.Favorite