• Business of fashion

Reformation Moves to Wholesale With New Nordstrom Deal

The partnership will bring new customers to Reformation’s regular bi-coastal cohort and expand Nordstrom’s offering of direct-to-consumer brands.

NEW YORK, United States — Nordstrom will begin carrying Reformation products starting Monday, marking the first wholesale partnership for the brand, which has developed a following online with its environmentally friendly practices and summer dresses.

Currently, Reformation’s website accounts for 80 percent of sales, with the rest coming from company-operated stores. The Nordstrom partnership isn’t expected to substantially boost the brand’s bottom line, and is instead aimed at reaching new customers, said Reformation chief executive Yael Aflalo. Nordstrom will sell Reformation clothes on its website, as well as in 20 stores in cities like Houston, Chicago and King of Prussia, Penn., where the brand isn’t as well known.

“Our goal is to bring sustainable fashion to everyone,” Aflalo said. “It’s popular on the coasts but there are a lot of American women that we don’t know yet.”

Aflalo founded Reformation in 2009 with a commitment to sustainable manufacturing. All of Reformation’s garments are made from eco-friendly materials and recycled fabrics. The brand opened three stores in the past three months, and will have 13 stores total by the end of the year, she said. Its estimated 2017 revenue is north of $100 million and it raised a $25 million Series B funding round led by Stripes Group in December.

Nordstrom has been adding online-native lines to its stable of private label and wholesale brands as part of a broader effort by the company to bring customers into its stores amid growing competition from online sellers. Other direct-to-consumer apparel companies that have sold through Nordstrom include Allbirds, Everlane and Warby Parker under its temporary Pop-In series. It’s also a partner of French brand Sezane.

If Reformation sells well, the chain could roll the brand out to more stores, said Tricia Smith, executive vice president and general merchandise manager of Nordstrom.

“We tend to get proof of concept very quickly,” she said. “There a lot of DTC brands coming and gaining mindshare with consumers that are resonating with our customers. We’re paying attention to what those brands are and working hard to change our model with them.”

Most retailers are accustomed to working with wholesalers, which operated differently from direct-to-consumer brands, Aflalo said. For instance, most retailers buy from wholesale samples in a showroom, but that’s not part of Reformation’s business model.

“Our biggest roadblock to retailers is just thinking that we don’t want to work with them, because it’s just going to be too challenging. With Nordstrom there’s a commitment to both sides to meet in the middle.”

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