Posted on May 5, 2017
Conversations: Beyond 别样 + Kelli Dugan of Everlane
Over Chinese New Year – Beyond’s editorial team sat down with Kelli Dugan, Merchandise Planner at Everlane, to discuss a wide range of topics from the Chinese translation for normcore (sexual apathy / frigidity ) to Everlane’s recent ACLU inspired “100% Human” line.
On Company Mission:
B: “We don’t want fashion we want lasting style” – What is your take on this Michael Preysman (Everlane CEO) quote?
K: The goal of Everlane is to create ethical, high-quality, long-lasting basics. And with that we are always trying to keep an eye on where the world of fashion is going and taking cues from that. And this way we can still have basics that are both timeless and relevant. So that can even be small things from necklines to shapes to detailing to hemlines all of that. And we will always be kind of continuously updating our basics to make sure they stay relevant.
B: Is there a different way of thinking about clothing trends at Everlane vs. other brands? I know you have a background at Gap…
K: Our biggest difference from the rest of the fashion-world is that we don’t design “in seasons or collections.” We are actually designing product that can be long-lasting. We don’t launch product a season at a time. We launch on a weekly basis which helps us tell stronger stories to our customers. We spread them across multiple weeks. Which then allows us to tell stories about you know maybe, which factory its coming from, it could be about a new fabric, how that fabric performs, it could be a styling story. It allows us to educate our customers about what we are providing them as opposed to doing a whole season that’s just going to be marked down three months later.
Questions from China:
K: So exciting to be expanding internationally…
B: We hear a lot about normcore. Which has a really funny Chinese translation – the typical translation is 性冷淡风 which means asexual, androgynous or sexually neutral style.
K: I don’t think we’re that (laughs) No, we definitely aren’t. No, I think normcore is pretty niche. We’re definitely trying to –
L: Do you think that’s a trend that will fade away?
K: Yeah. We’re definitely trying to be longer lasting and to reach a wider audience.
L: I’m asking because a lot of Chinese fashion bloggers do define Everlane as being (normcore) – what would you have to say to that?
K: I mean maybe they are saying that because of the more constrained color palate we have and having less print and having a little more utilitarian style than it is broad and we are more focused in our assortment of products than other fashion retailers.
B: A question from our users – do you guys ever consider adopting Chinese design elements?
K: We haven’t yet. But never say never. It could be adjusting sizing for Chinese customers. But we definitely want to stay having one brand. We don’t want an Everlane China or an Everlane Europe. It is important to stay focused on what the brand is here and spread that out worldwide.
B: Would you say there is something American about the design or brand?
K: Well yes, we were born in America. We are designed in America. We are an American brand. But, I would say that we are American in the sense that our products are focused more on casual product – which often correlates with the true iconic American brands. The categories we expand into also feel similar to the other iconic American brands. But I think that Everlane can have a wider spread across an international audience. Even our head of design is from Denmark. So we have some more Eastern European influences that come into the brand as well.
On Politics and The Everlane Demographic:
B: What do you think is Everlane’s typical customer?
K: She, he and she, are definitely informed. They want to make the world a better place.
L: What do you mean by informed?
K: They read the news. They know what’s happening in the world. They want to understand more about the food they are eating and where its coming from. In general – seeking knowledge. From a demographic perspective our customers are relatively young, college-educated, urban, they don’t really take life too seriously. They are able to let themselves go and have a little fun as well.
B: So was the idea behind 100% Human always to utilize the ACLU? Or did this sort of come from something else?
K: You know I think it came out of all the uncertainty in America with the changeover in presidency and this idea of unity – that we are all stronger together, we are all more similar than we are different. So that was the mission of what we came out with. At the end of the day whether you’re are black, white, Chinese, American, gay lesbian straight – we’re all human and that was really the message we wanted to tell to our customers. It’s not about your political beliefs whether you’re right or left its about being human and then it really fit with ACLU. Going with the ACLU’s beliefs to want to support human rights.
B: When I saw the collection I thought of the Ellen show when she said we are more alike than we are different – she said we are all doing weird things in the shower.
K: (laughs) You know that collection could potentially evolve as well. There may be other charities in the future we want to support as well.