What are the top new clothing brands of the past 5 years?
Hello! Thanks for your request for a list of the top new US clothing brands started in the past 5 years. The short answer is that while no such pre-existing list is available, I was able to create a list from scratch based on criteria that indicate financial growth, consumer popularity, and continued success. These five companies are: Fabletics, Outdoor Voices, Lively, KOIO Collective, and MM.LaFleur. In addition, I have identified four additional companies that don't quite meet my top 5 criteria, but that are growing in success and popularity; those four companies are certainly ones to watch in the future. Below you will find a deep dive of my methodology and findings.
After an extensive search, I could not identify any existing lists that rank new US clothing brands from the past five years or any databases that include such information. However, I did find many articles from reputable news and fashion industry sources that listed names of new, popular clothing brands. As such, it was possible to create a top 5 list from scratch by identifying brands that have demonstrated particular financial success and growth in popularity in the past 5 years based on specific criteria.
My approach was to identify existing "best of" and "companies to watch" lists from fashion industry and business sources from the past five years. For example, see this list from reputable fashion source Refinery29. I then went through each listed company and checked it against the criteria I detail below. As I continued my search, articles on one company often referenced similarly successful companies. Essentially, a major aspect of my search was to assess the prevalence of media interest in clothing brands- when names cropped up often, I knew it was worth digging deeper.
TOP 5 CRITERIA
I checked all clothing brands I identified against the following criteria: headquartered in the U.S., targets U.S. market, launched in the past 5 years, have annual revenue of at least $1 Million, accessible to a general consumer audience (not luxury or high fashion), sells clothing (not just accessories, bags, or cosmetics), has evidence of rapid financial growth based on revenue or investor figures, holds partnerships with large retailers, has experienced growth in brick-and-mortar and/or online stores, has notable and consistent media coverage in reputable news and fashion industry sources. All of these criteria point to popularity among consumers and rapid growth in the U.S. market over the past five years.
As clothing brands as a category is already relatively broad, I specifically excluded high fashion and luxury brands from my search to ensure that the brands I pulled for you were relatively comparable in terms of consumer base. During my search, there were many articles featuring high fashion designers and recent new collections or shows- while those designers may generate relatively high revenues, they would only have limited popularity to high income individuals. To ensure consistency in the list, I focused on clothing brands marketed to and were accessible to a general US consumer and not purely fashion enthusiasts or high net worth individuals.
I settled on $1 Million in annual revenue as an important lower limit to gauge financial success. However, given the rapid rise of these companies, I treated the other criteria that point to financial potential, rapid growth, and consumer popularity as equally important. For instance, while Fabletics generates revenues in the hundreds of millions and MM.LaFleur generated as much as $30 Million in 2016, both have been around for over a year longer than Outdoor Voices and KOIO Collective (also much of Fabletics rapid success has been based on Kate Hudson's name and brand recognition). Meanwhile, Lively has purposefully built a slow expansion to preserve its brand experience, but remains appealing to investors.
A NOTE ON HONORABLE MENTIONS
During my research, I identified some brands that don't fully meet the above criteria. For example, I excluded high fashion, luxury brands, because, while they may generate high revenues and media coverage, they may not have widespread popularity among U.S. consumers. I also excluded brands that are based overseas or have a multinational presence, as you are interested in U.S. clothing brands. Finally, I generally had to exclude brands that launched in the past 1-2 years, because there are not yet publicly-available revenue or investment figures on their financial growth and they may not yet have a strong store or online presence. However, I have included an "Honorable Mention" section that features a few brands that may be of interest to you despite them not fully meeting my top 5 criteria. I have also included a "Possible Continued Research" section below with follow-up questions you may be interested in pursuing.
TOP 5 LIST
Each of the following 5 clothing brands has demonstrated rapid growth since their launch within the past 5 years, particularly in terms of consumer recognition and popularity. In the past 5 years there has been a particular resurgence of the athletics, casual wear, and comfortable underwear industries with more and more companies trying to break into those markets. Four of the five companies, Fabletics, Outdoor Voices, Lively, and KOIO Collective fall under the athletic, casual wear, and comfortable underwear industries. Interestingly, the fifth company, MM.LaFleur has gained popularity and success by casting itself in contrast to the current trend of selling casual wear. It also rejects the type of subscription services offered by Fabletics. Instead, MM.LaFleur specifically caters to professional women looking for sharp, stylish, and easy to find clothing that is distinctly their own.
I have included the launch date, a brief description, financial growth data, store and location information, and notable media coverage for each. They are listed in no rank order:
DESCRIPTION: Fabletics is an athletic-wear company founded by Kate Hudson that aims to create comfortable workout wear for men, women, and children. Its original model was subscription based, offering monthly collections that customers signed up to receive. Much of its success has centered around aggressive marketing along with the name recognition of Kate Hudson both in terms of popularity with consumers and partners. The company puts out monthly collections offered as a subscription service, offers a variety of sportswear for different activities, and recently moved into offering plus-sizes under a new marketing campaign focused on community. It has recently re-thought its marketing and business practices following customer complaints that its subscription service was a scam.
GROWTH: Owler estimates that Fabletics has an annual revenue of $135.9 million. It may be closer to $650 million according to Business Insider.
PARTNERSHIPS: Fabletics recently partnered with Demi Lovato to offer a specific Demi Lovato line. It also has retail stores in several malls around the country. In an effort to improve its image, Fabletics has recently partnered with UN Foundation's Girls Up program and "Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA)" on a breast cancer awareness initiative.
STORES: Fabletics has a robust online presence and is currently aggressively expanding its retail stores, of which there are now at least 22 around the United States. The U.S.-based company is also looking to expand internationally.
NOTABLE MEDIA COVERAGE: Per their press section, Fabletics has been featured in Elle, RachelRay, InStyle, OK!, People, the LA Times, redbook, Refinery29, SELF, SHAPE, US, USA Today, and Women's Health among others. It has also been mentioned in Business Insider, PRNewswire, and others.
LAUNCHED: Early 2014
DESCRIPTION: Terming themselves as the "hiking buddy that brought the snacks," Outdoor Voices has successfully positioned itself as a laid-back, human-focused sportswear line that has been gaining in consumer popularity since its launch in 2014. CEO Tyler Haney plans to be as big as "Nike or Under Armour," as the "next great activewear brand." Part of their appeal has been their focus on a smaller catalog with "kits" containing "items recommended for different activities." They have also appealed to Millennials in particular by encouraging consumers to "gather" at their stores and to have fun browsing their products.
GROWTH: Raised $22.5 million in venture capital in three years over three rounds. Has an estimated annual revenue of $2 million according to Owler.
PARTNERSHIPS: Outdoor Voices secured major partnerships early on including with J. Crew. and A.P.C.
STORES: Their flagship store is in Austin; they recently opened three more stores in New York and Dallas; they have a robust, functional online store.
NOTABLE MEDIA COVERAGE: Just in the past month has been featured in Fashionista, Refinery29, TechCrunch, Fortune, Allure Magazine, the Huffington Post, and others.
DESCRIPTION: Lively is an lingerie store that focuses on underwear that "blurs the aesthetic lines of lingerie, active, and swim, taking the best elements of high-style and comfort from each category." Their tagline is "inspired by women with wild hearts and boss brains." CEO Michelle Grant was a senior merchant at Victoria's Secret, but wanted to create a competitor that challenged its focus on "hyper-sexualized" models and provided women with comfortable, attractive underwear. It has been compared to other success stories like MeUndies and THINX that both launched in 2011, outside of the 5 year period.
(For comparison, MeUndies has generated $10.4 Million in venture capital and has an estimated annual revenue of $5.8 Million. Meanwhile, THINX initially generated "over $130,000 from crowdfunding sites and competitions" and has grown 23 times that since its launch. FastCompany and Her Report suggest THINX has generated revenues in the "tens of millions.")
GROWTH: Has generated $5.5 Million in venture capital in two rounds, most recently $4 Million in seed funding in October 2016. Has an estimated annual revenue of at least $1 Million per Owler.
PARTNERSHIPS: Lively has purposefully not entered into partnerships with retail stores, despite offers, because the brand wants control over the shopping experience of its customers.
STORES: Has a robust online store
NOTABLE MEDIA COVERAGE: Per their press section, Lively has been featured in WhoWhatWear, Fast Company, The New York Times, Observer, TechCrunch, Forbes, StyleCasterHello Giggles, The Fashion Law, Bustle, marie claire, and Refinery29. I also found them featured in Teen Vogue , Racked, Fashionista, and Fashion Network among others.
DESCRIPTION: A New York-based shoe company focused on crafting a "personal dream shoe" out of high quality materials. Their appeal centers around the high-quality, Italian techniques and materials used in making every shoe, all of which are variations on the sneaker. Despite the high quality craftmanship, their price point remains relatively accessible.
GROWTH: Raised $1.31 Million from 6 investors in one round in 2016. According to Owler, they have an estimated annual revenue of $1.8 Million.
PARTNERSHIPS: As early as 2015, their sneakers were "picked up" by retailer Rime. They are also available online at ShopSpring
STORES: A brick-and-mortar store in New York City and a robust online store.
NOTABLE MEDIA COVERAGE: As listed in their press section, KOIO Collective has recently been featured in Esquire, Vogue, Elle, Uncreate, the New York Times, Men's Health, Fashionest, CondeNast Traveler, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and others. They are featured in several articles such as Harpers Bazaar and GQ as part of ensembles alongside other notable brands.
DESCRIPTION: MM.LaFleur focuses on building professional wardrobes of "versatile pieces" that are both sophisticated and dynamic (meaning "machine-washable, travel-friendly." One of their signature products is a trade-marked"Bento Box" that comes with hand-selected items ranging in sizes from "0P-16" based on the consumer's personal style and fit. Their Bento box is not a subscription service, but rather, is designed to make creating a stylish professional wardrobe quick and easy for busy, working women. Part of their self-documented selling point to customers and investors is that they know the challenges of busy working women who are juggling business and family. They also focus on the gap left by traditional retailers swapping professional wear for trendy casual wear and on making shopping as convenient as possible for the "harried 9-to-5ers."
GROWTH: In September 2016, were on track to close the year with $30 Million in revenue per Forbes. Investors have not disclosed their funding amounts. Last year, its Tory 2.0 dress had a wait-list of over 1,600 customers.
PARTNERSHIPS: So far MM.LaFleur has specifically avoided partnering with traditional retailers in favor of providing a convenient option for professional women. Part of their strategy is that traditional retail has "got it wrong" about what professional women want and how much time they can afford to spend shopping in stores.
STORES: They have show-rooms in D.C. and New York City as well as pop-up shops in Chicago, San Francisco, Boston, Dallas, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Seattle, Atlanta, and Houston
NOTABLE MEDIA COVERAGE: Per their press page, MM.LaFleur has been featured in fashion and consumer-focused publications PureWow, Real Simple Magazine, Bustle, InStyle, Corporette, Racked, Glamour, WWD, and WhoWhatWear. They have also been featured in Business Insider, Forbes, and Fortune.
The following companies do not fully meet the "top 5 criteria" either because they are too new to have clear revenue data or they are not fully U.S.-based. All of these should be considered companies to watch and may be of interest to you.
As a Liberian-American company, Uniform sells to the U.S. market, but bases its identity squarely in Liberia and West Africa. It has gained acclaim for its simple, minimalist designs that also reinvest into populations in West Africa by donating uniforms to school children for each purchase.
The new brand of Caroline Herrera, the former Manager of international Sales for Oscar de la Renta. The company has no clear revenue or investment numbers yet, due to its very recent launch. However, it already has partnerships with top stores like Moda Operandi and has received significant media coverage.
Ace & Everett specializes in men's socks and has quickly risen to popularity. It recently generated $360k in one round of investor funding. It did not make the top 5 list, because it is too early to tell how it will continue to grow and it currently only specializes in men's socks. That said, it has been listed as an American-made company to watch by the Huffington Post.
Created by former Reformation designer Pio Arrobio, LPA has been termed a label to watch by Fashionista.
However, due to its recent launch, there is no publicly-available information on its success or popularity so far.
POSSIBLE CONTINUED RESEARCH
Clothing brands encompass a broad range of clothing types, consumer demographics, price points, and business models. While this response focused on general clothing brands accessible to the overall U.S. population, you may be interested in narrowing your question into differing styles, demographics, and price points. For example:
Who are the top 5 new U.S. high fashion designers to emerge in the past 5 years?
What the top 5 new U.S. clothing brands marketing to women/men/families/Millennials/Generation Z... of the past 5 years? (Pick the demographic)
What are the top 5 new shoes brands to emerge in the U.S. in the past 5 years?
What are the top 5 clothing subscription services to emerge in the past 5 years?
You may also be interested to learn what kinds of investors are funding clothing brands, as more clothing brand startups are approaching venture capitalists:
Who are the main venture capitalist companies backing new clothing brands?
Similarly, you may be interested in the innovative business models new clothing brands are exploring in the past five years:
Create a list of 5 innovative business models clothing brands have been exploring in the past 5 years.
To wrap it up, as there are no pre-existing lists of the top 5 new clothing brands of the past 5 years in the U.S., I created a top 5 list from scratch based on criteria that indicate financial growth, consumer popularity, and future potential. The five I identified range in terms of annual revenue, but all have generated significant media attention, investor or partner interest, and popularity among consumers. Interestingly, currently companies are finding particular success in the previously stagnant athletics, casual wear, and comfortable underwear markets, in which four of the above are excelling. Meanwhile, MM.LaFleur has found success by setting itself up as an alternative to the casual wear industry.
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