“The demand [for Unsubscribed] has been so great that we would really like to share this product with more people,” Jennifer Foyle, president, executive creative director of American Eagle and Aerie, told WWD. “The first year did exceed expectations. That’s why we’re excited about opening up in new markets. And when you think about e-commerce, it’s an important part of every business. It’s a way to market your brand and get the brand out there in a fresh way.
“The website really tells the story of the brand in such a unique way,” continued Foyle, whose title was recently updated to better reflect her additional responsibilities at AEO. “It’s so elevated and elegant and easy to shop. We definitely will continue to evolve it and have behind-the-scenes stories.”
Unsubscribed is parent company American Eagle Outfitters’ fifth brand, along with AE, Aerie, Offline and Todd Snyder. The slow fashion retail concept opened last June with one store in East Hampton, N.Y., followed by a second in Westport, Conn. The idea was to slow down, enjoy the shopping experience and find unique treasures. (Products come from various locales around the world.) In short, it’s the opposite of fast fashion. Slow fashion, by contrast, or products that last longer and place greater emphasis on the production process, is something Foyle said is lacking in the fashion industry.
“The best brands survive the tidal wave of fast-fashion retailers; the pure play digitals that come in and they go,” Foyle said. “I’m in the business of creating brands and [brands] are what I think survive over time. And experiences for our customers.
“There are certainly new retailers that are coming in fast and furiously that are going to take advantage of the fashion that I do believe is going to come back,” Foyle continued. “But we’re all about an experience for our customer. Well-merchandised stores that make you want to shop and where you can feel comfortable. Unsubscribed is that experience where you want to enter and you want to stay. There are curiosities in the store that I think are exciting and new to the customer. And we don’t want her to have to search to find a great idea or a dress or an item. We want her to showcase that product.”
Turns out others agreed and word of Unsubscribed quickly spread to shoppers outside of the New York area. Foyle said the decision to launch Unsubscribed’s e-commerce business was partially motivated by the desire to open up the experience to people everywhere.
Until now the website, unsubscribed.com, has been used as a landing page with directions to stores, look books and even the chance to virtually tour the East Hampton location. Now visitors to the site will be able to purchase products as well.
In addition, two Unsubscribed stores are planned for this fall, one in Greenwich, Conn., and the other in Palm Beach, Fla.
“And every store is different,” Foyle said. “It’s not a cookie-cutter store visual experience. We consider East Hampton the beach. Westport is the gallery. We have art that is for sale from local artists. We don’t want every store to have 100 percent the same exact product.”
Of course opening a brick-and-mortar store during the pandemic came with its own challenges.
“We had to find different ways of bringing the product to life. It just took a little bit more time, a little bit more thought and a little bit more love,” Foyle said. “And, in retail, we’re always faced with a challenge. So we always pivot and learn and move ahead. The size of the business allows us to test and scale, to learn, to listen to our customers more intimately. And because our team can’t travel quite as much as we’d like to, to find products from all over the world during the pandemic. That is the intent [of the brand].”
There are also challenges in the supply chain, including production and sourcing. Foyle said the goal over time, however, will be for Unsubscribed to be 100 percent sustainable.
“We’re really thinking about the product and who we work with,” she explained. “Our thought process on the slow delivery already gets us a step ahead on the carbon footprint mission.”
There are things like recycled cashmere, 100 percent washable silk, vegan sneakers and vintage products, along with the Unsubscribed brand.
The website launches with Unsubscribed’s pre-fall 2021 collection, including an embroidery capsule, crinkle silk chiffon dresses and an expanded assortment of sweaters. In addition, each store drops two main collections a year, emphasizing quality over quantity, with the fall 2021 collection scheduled to drop Sept. 17. Foyle was tight-lipped about the details of the collection, but did say a curated assortment of products from similar brands — such as LemLem, Vega, Raen and Schosha — will be featured in a more seasonally appropriate way. Prices start at about $5 for accessories and go up to $550 for dresses.
“We’re constantly challenging ourselves to innovate and bring in product that not everyone carries,” Foyle said. “We want to be able to really surprise and delight based on where the store is and what the customer may want.
“This brand is a premium brand in the AEO portfolio,” she continued. “And we’re purpose-led. I think that’s really important in today’s world. And I love the juxtaposition and what Unsubscribed does for the portfolio. It’s simply luxury. It’s mindful, slow retail.”