Everlane, the San Francisco-based e-commerce clothing company with a socially-conscious business model, announced today the appointment of Rebekka Bay as its new head of product and design.
Bay, who previously served as the creative director at Gap, will start on August 4th at Everlane's New York offices. (The startup's current design executive, Petra Langerova, will remain on board as an advisor.)
"It was about a mutual respect for each other," says Everlane's co-founder, Michael Preysman, of the new partnership. The two were introduced through a mutual friend earlier this year, and he says they hit it off right away. "It's like dating. One thing leads to another, and you start talking about what it might look like to work together."
Bay is no newcomer in the fashion industry. In fact, she's a high-profile hire for the four-year-old company. She first staked a reputation for creating COS, a minimalist street-wear brand, for parent company H&M in her native Denmark.
Bay then moved to the U.S. in 2012 to be Gap's creative director, but was ousted earlier this year following reported clashes with other executives. (Some of her plainer, boxy designs didn't seem to jibe with consumers, and the position itself was eliminated with her departure.)
Bay tells Business of Fashion that she was originally attracted to Everlane's unique model. The company aims to give "radical transparency" to fashion lovers, in what Preysman views to be an otherwise broken system in the industry.
While traditional retailers will markup their items to as much as ten times what it costs to make them, Everlane's products--typically basic staples, like T-shirts and tote bags--sell directly to consumer, for just twice the cost of production. A button-up oxford shirt, for instance, sells for $55 on Everlane, compared to the more standard $110, by Preysman's estimate.
The website also lists the backstory of a particular item, including the factory where it was made, as well as the pricing structure (i.e., a direct comparison of what a similar item might cost at another brand).
"At the core, everything goes into the product," says Preysman, adding that he respects Bay's ability to understand the "high-end" look and sell the concept at lower price points. Everlane's clothes err on the side of "feminine," or "evergreen," as opposed to the seasonal trends which are often exhibited by fashion labels.
"[We're] really focusing on fabric and silhouette -- versus all the other details that one might add. We want to create the product in its purest form, and merge it with functionality. It's something that I think we do well, and aspire to do much more of on a greater scale," said Preysman.
Bay's entry into startup world might just be the shift she needed. "I'm excited to be with a smaller brand, a smaller team, and to be touching the product more. It's a new way of working, a new way of bringing products to market," she told Business of Fashion.
It may be small, but Everlane is in good fiscal standing. The company brought in $12 million in sales in 2013, and although Preysman declined to disclose 2014 revenue, he says it's now "teetering" on the edge of profitability.
Everlane is bolstered by $9 million in venture capital, from high-profile investors such as Kleiner Perkins Caulfield & Byers. It projects 100 percent revenue growth between 2014 and 2015.
In future, Preysman says Everlane will continue to hone the basics, starting with its new fall/winter collection. Shoppers can expect plenty of outerwear, such as wool coats, sweaters, and other woven products. "We're super excited," he said. "It'll be a good time."