With a closet full of thrifted clothes in Susan Gregg Koger’s closet, Koger decided to open an online shop in 2002 with the help of her boyfriend-turned-husband, Eric. Since then, ModCloth has become a truly innovative and inclusive fashion retailer, with three offices across the country and hundreds of employees. And just last year, Walmart purchased ModCloth for an estimated $50 million! But ModCloth’s success didn’t stop there because they are now getting ready to open multiple stores across the United States after years of operating online.
ModCloth’s Mission to be Inclusive and Innovative
Kroger was in college when she knew that she wanted to build the type of store that she would personally want to shop at. She had a passion for vintage apparel and saw the scarcity of options in suburban malls, so she decided to create a digital store focused on showcasing one-of-a-kind thrift store finds. Over half of ModCloth’s entire catalog is available in a full spectrum of sizes from XXS to 4X which is a rarity in the fashion world. There are not many stores that can offer an outfit to an XXS girl and a 4X girl in the exact same look, and ModCloth wanted to be able to offer a store-based social shopping experience where women of all shapes and sizes can shop the same assortment and feel empowered and feel included. The ModCloth stores have in-store stylists that help shoppers select and order their items, which will be delivered for free within two or four days of purchasing. Alongside, there will be some one-of-a-kind vintage items that shoppers can buy that same day.
“Unlike traditional retail stores that allow shoppers to take home their purchases, ModCloth’s stores will feature a sample of items from its website in a full range of sizes to try on, then order online.”
Online followers helped grow the brand.
Capital investments have allowed ModCloth to source independent designers and transitioned into a fashion retail market offering new, vintage looking, and retro-inspired alternatives to a more conventional fast fashion and ready-to-wear brands. ModCloth was able to recognize the benefits of social media quickly by initially using MySpace to engage with customers and build up their name in the pre-Facebook world. They quickly began receiving loyal followers and consequently did most of the marketing for the brand. Koger told Zendesk in 2010 that,”many times, before they could answer a question on Facebook, one of their fans will step up to answer the question for them.” ModCloth soon launched “Be the Buyer” program which served as a feature to encourage shoppers to vote for styles they’d like to see manufactured and sold which received an outstanding amount of responses.
Permanent locations across the U.S.
Over the years, ModCloth experimented with a pop-up tour called “ModCloth IRL” that began in Los Angeles and continued in San Francisco, Washington DC, Portland, Pittsburgh, Denver, and Austin. These pop-up stores allowed them to receive customer feedback, fix some of their outfit concepts, and geographically survey the permanent location for their first store. The first permanent ModCloth store opened in Austin, TX because they saw a symmetry with their culture internally about being inclusive and contemporary. Now, this Walmart-owned clothing site is opening stores in San Francisco, Los Angeles, New York, and Washington, DC. The stores are part of a larger real estate strategy that will include up to five stores this year and up to eight stores next year.