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ModCloth Test Drives Offline Retail, Starting with an L.A. Pop-Up

It's an "experimental" year for the retailer.
ModCloth IRL. Photo: ModCloth

ModCloth IRL. Photo: ModCloth

On Thursday, ModCloth took its e-commerce business into the real world, opening a pop-up shop in the lobby of its offices in downtown Los Angeles. While opening short-term sales spaces is, at this point, a standard marketing practice in the fashion world — especially among online-first brands, which benefit from showing off their product in real life — ModCloth hasn't done so since staging a New York pop-up a few years ago.

According to ModCloth CEO Matthew Kaness, who joined the company in January to replace founder Eric Koger, the three-day pop-up functions as a fit shop. Customers can try on clothing samples, talk sizing and styling with employees and, if they make a purchase, get free two-day shipping on the goods. As with the guide shops pioneered by the men's brand Bonobos and its sister line Ayr, ModCloth doesn't actually stock product in order to fit into a smaller space. (That said, customers can walk out of the store with some merchandise, like home goods.)

Kaness described 2015 as an "experimental" year for the ModCloth team, noting that, while there will be more brick-and-mortar ventures coming in the future months, there's no permanent strategy set in place yet.

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"We're looking to test other formats before we make any big decisions around what the future of offline is," Kaness says. "Right now, we're still concepting it."

So stay tuned on that front. The retailer is also working on building up its in-house brand, which comprises less than half of its current offering; the majority of the product listed on the site comes from third-party labels, although most of those styles are exclusive to ModCloth. Kaness declined to say how big the internal design team is, but did note that it's an area the company is investing in. 

Onward, upward and, increasingly, offline.