Adore Me on Wednesday opened its largest store to date and its first outside of New York, in Bridgewater Commons mall in New Jersey, according to a company press release.
The 3,600 square-foot store — which is double the size of an existing Staten Island location — was developed in partnership with Brookfield and is part of a larger plan to open 200 to 300 stores in the next five years.
The store features tech elements like RFID-enabled fitting rooms that collect, analyze and visualize data about in-store customer engagement, the company said.
Adore Me, along with online rivals True & Co, Lively and ThirdLove, as well as brick-and-mortar retailers like Gap and American Eagle's Aerie, is ramping up competition in the lingerie sector as L Brand's Victoria's Secret continues to cede share. The market giant has been slow to respond to demand, especially from younger women, for less risqué styles that fit better.
Although Victoria's Secret remains the giant in the space, there's significant opportunity in light of its merchandising and cultural missteps. Most recently, the brand's third quarter store comparable sales fell 2% following a 4% decline a year ago, amid controversial comments from L Brands' longtime marketing chief. There's also been much turnover. John Mehas was tapped just a week ago to replace lingerie chief Jan Singer, who left after a little more than two years. In August, Victoria's Secret's PINK CEO Denise Landman also announced she is retiring at the end of the year after nearly 20 years at L Brands.
Adore Me's plans so far are the most aggressive among the e-commerce pure-players in moving into brick and mortar. The brand's spaces are designed to communicate the brand's "Inner Confidence for All" tagline, with empowering quotes on walls and in fitting rooms, light pink walls to coordinate with its online identity and lounge areas, the company said in its press release.
The company, which depends on subscription sales, says it has established a customer base of more than 11 million women, mostly urban millennials, and that 80% of its traffic comes from mobile.
But as smaller labels jockey for attention, Adore Me's billing practices could undermine it. ThirdLove's co-founder and co-CEO took advantage of L Brands CMO Ed Razek's recent controversial Vogue interview in recent days by slamming the brand for leveraging the male gaze rather than women's needs. Meanwhile, AdoreMe is facing a recent report by CNBC about what the Federation Trade Commission claims are "deceptive" practices.
The FTC has filed injunctions and imposed fines against the retailer, most recently about year ago, for "deceptive acts or practices" related to its billing and credit card charges. Customers have "unwittingly" entered into monthly charge agreements and have found it difficult to opt out, and the FTC continues to scrutinize the company, according to CNBC. The practices resemble those at TechStyle's Fabletics brand, which faces ongoing criticism about unclear subscription signups and convoluted opt-out procedures. Adore Me didn't immediately respond to Retail Dive's request for comment on that report.