Lingerie e-retailer Adore Me is planning a major brick-and-mortar incursion, with 200 to 300 stores slated to open in the next five years, the company's founder and CEO Morgan Hermand-Waiche told The Wall Street Journal. The first of seven to 10 stores will open this year in New York City.
Another 20 stores will open next year, and the company will study its results before expanding plans beyond 2019, according to the report. Adore Me didn’t immediately return Retail Dive’s request for comment.
The locations will include customer-friendly features like bars to hang out in and showrooms to try things on for home delivery. Checkout will be enabled throughout the stores with mobile devices in the hands of store staff, according to the report. The company currently has one NYC-based showroom.
Lingerie upstarts like Adore Me are seizing on the opening created by Victoria’s Secret, which still looms over the category despite challenged sales and fashion downtrends. Fourth quarter same-store sales at Victoria’s Secret fell 1%, and without e-commerce declined 6%.
Victoria's Secret's commitment to sexier lingerie fashion is hurting its parent company, as consumers gravitate to more comfortable styles amid changing attitudes about body image. Online rivals like Adore Me, True & Co, Lively and Thirdlove, as well as retailers like Gap and American Eagle's Aerie are ramping up competition in the segment. Subscription retailer Stitch Fix last month also unveiled an add-on category for its women's boxes called Stitch Fix Extras, a curated collection of camisoles, shapewear, underwear, tights, bralettes, bras and socks featuring brands like Wacoal, Free People and Hanky Panky as well as the company's private label, Everyday by Stitch Fix.
"'Sexy is no longer a well-received message," Jane Hali & Associates told Retail Dive in a previous email. "Consumers are looking for intimates that are comfortable and fit properly. Women are seeking comfort and to feel comfortable in their own bodies."
Adore Me joins once pure-play online upstarts like Warby Parker, Casper Mattress and Everlane in turning to physical stores to grow sales. And they're a must if Adore Me is to truly take on Victoria's Secret.
Stores are necessary for digital brands to compete against mainstream players, including the leader, Adore Me founder and CEO Morgan Hermand-Waiche told the Journal. "Victoria’s Secret is the big guy in the room," he told the Journal. "Even if we are successful for a digitally native brand, we will remain small compared to Victoria’s Secret."
Even though Adore Me and its online rivals are small, though, they are in focus at Cowen & Co., where analysts said that the competitive landscape is a worry for L Brands. "While these companies are small in comparison to Victoria's Secret, we do acknowledge their presence could disrupt the lingerie category somewhat, over time," according to a note emailed to Retail Dive.