A fashion start-up co-founded by singer and entertainer Ciara, NFL quarterback Russell Wilson and former Lululemon CEO Christine Day is preparing to open its first brick-and-mortar shop.
The House of LR&C, which launched online in 2020, will open a pop-up near its Seattle headquarters in early February, Day said in an interview, with a selection from its three brands: Wilson’s Good Man Brand, LITA by Ciara and Human Nation, a gender-inclusive clothing label.
The brands are currently sold online and through wholesale partners Nordstrom, Kohl’s and online fashion site Revolve. But House of LR&C has been plotting a three-prong approach to retail since its inception, according to Day, who is the company’s CEO, that includes plans to sell directly to consumers online, via its own stores and through wholesalers like department stores.
“The future is omnichannel,” said Day, who said the strategy is the most profitable way to go in retail today. “Stores act more like showrooms for people to actually buy in the moment, touch and feel your product, and to be able to express your whole brand story.”
“And there’s an advantage to wholesale in the beginning as a small brand, because … you also gain customers, awareness and marketing from those points of distribution,” she added.
The company expects to open three or four permanent stores in the U.S. this year, and will also look to find a bigger space near the Seattle pop-up shop at University Village, Day said.
House of LR&C’s expansion plans fit into a bigger trend shaping up in the retail industry as brands that launched on the internet invest in outlets in malls and shopping centers. Retailers like Allbirds, Warby Parker, Vuori and Mack Weldon are opening more shops this year, in part to help offset the expenses that come with running a business online.
Sales in brick-and-mortar locations can yield more profit because the retailer saves on shipping costs to online buyers — and store-bought items are returned less frequently than online-purchased ones. Rents have also dropped in some markets during the pandemic, which may make it an opportune time for retailers to sign a lease.
Savage X Fenty, a lingerie business started online by pop star Rihanna in 2018, said last week it will open its first store later this month in Las Vegas. It also plans to open locations in Los Angeles, Houston, Philadelphia and Washington, D.C., this year.
“What we’re doing is establishing proof points, right now,” said Day. “In our [direct-to-consumer] business, we’ve seen the consumer desire is there.”
Day was chief executive of Lululemon from 2008 to 2013, then had the top job at health food company Performance Kitchen. She currently sits on Kohl’s board.
Like many start-up fashion retailers today, House of LR&C stresses sustainability, favoring materials that are less harmful to the environment in its products. It’s also in the process of becoming a certified B Corporation, and it donates 3% of net revenue to charity, Day said.
“If we don’t actually make fashion sustainable and transparent, then we’re never going to change the industry,” she said. “That’s what we believe the whitespace is and that nobody is doing well.”
Day said House of LR&C sales have increased by about 70% over the past year, from seven figures to eight figures. She didn’t provide any further details.
The company recently closed a more than $7 million convertible offering with participating investors including private equity firm Ames Watson, Harlem Capital and Darco Capital, she said. It plans to use the funding to invest in adding more stores.
TUNE IN: The House of LR&C will be presenting at ICR’s virtual conference at 4:30 p.m. ET on Tuesday.