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Direct to consumer

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Note from the editor

Direct to consumer is more than just a buzzword in retail right now. Over the past several years, a slew of digitally native brands cropped up in just about every sector in retail.

The direct-to-consumer revolution led to the creation of oral healthcare startups, multiple personal hygiene brands — a trend perhaps first started by Dollar Shave Club, but now inclusive of female-focused companies like Billie as well — and a lot of private label responses from bigger players like Amazon and Target. And it almost resulted in a major acquisition this year, until the prospective buyer for Harry's balked after the Federal Trade Commission blocked the brand's sale.

There's been some high profile challenges too. Casper, once a vaunted poster child for DTC potential and an early unicorn, has been the focus of a lot of attention during its much-hyped IPO as financial disclosures raised questions about its profitability.

All of which is to say: There's a lot happening in the direct-to-consumer space right now, and it's not going away anytime soon. This report covers several different aspects of the trend, including:

  • How individual direct-to-consumer brands are shaping their businesses
  • What problems could be challenging former DTC darlings
  • The relationship between brick and mortar and direct to consumer

These aren't the only things we're watching, but they are some of the main themes we've picked up on as retailers try to adapt to a new era. 

Cara Salpini Editor

What stumbles at Harry's and Brandless mean for e-commerce

Federal regulators nixed one brand's takeover deal, and venture capital burned the other. Both moves reveal hard truths about direct-to-consumer retail.

E-commerce companies eye physical retail

Retailers are grappling with the limits of online sales.

30 minutes with Article's top marketing execs

This DTC brand wants to make shopping in the category easy. How? By limiting choice and taking back control of the last mile.

Why Brooklinen didn't open its first permanent store in SoHo

CEO Rich Fulop says its Brooklyn location is one of "a lot of stores" the brand plans to open.

'It's happening in a big way': The future of re-commerce in retail

Top executives from ThredUp, Rebag, Rent the Runway and Urban Outfitters' Nuuly discuss the role of the circular economy.

30 minutes with the CEO of Birchbox

Co-founder Katia Beauchamp breaks down the beauty brand's model, marketing changes and why she chose Walgreens as a partner.

Conversational Commerce: Inside the mindset of the next wave of digitally native brands

AYR CEO Maggie Winter learned retail basics from Mickey Drexler, and started a brand with the backing of Bonobos founder Andy Dunn. Here's how she channeled that knowledge into a modern DTC brand.

30 minutes with Rent the Runway's CEO

Jennifer Hyman is leading retail into the sharing economy with well-oiled logistics and a truly disruptive model — one where customers are encouraged not to buy anything.