2018 HOT LIST – Emerging Retailers to Watch in the Coming Year

Posted by Jocelyn Schoolsky on Feb 8, 2018 10:48:35 AM
Jocelyn Schoolsky

2018 will be all about emerging brands that deliver unique and authentic experiences to their customers. Although many are digital natives, they are actively pursuing expansion strategies which include pop-ups and permanent storefronts. Whether it be Parisian style, sneaker culture, gender fluidity, authenticity or - my favorite theme - sustainability, I’ve uncovered a stellar list of innovative retailers to watch this year. 

Stadium Goods

Stadium Goods ties its mobile app to its solid brick and mortar strategy. Perhaps you have heard about the billion-dollar sneaker resale market? Limited edition sneakers are the must-have of stylish workwear and streetwear. In today’s workplace, an in-demand pair of kicks has become the new necktie, but so much more modern and comfortable. Whether you’re a sneakerhead or not, Stadium Goods is your one stop shop for highly sought-after streetwear and sneakers. While the sneaker resale market is quite saturated, the two-year-old marketplace is booming. Though Stadium Goods has its fair share of competitors, it has a great handle on both its brick and mortar and mobile strategy. Stadium Goods has two locations in New York City and recently launched its first app. If you haven’t been so lucky this Yeezy Season, head on over to Stadium Goods – you’ll be sure to find the latest Blue Tint colorway.


Unlike the sneaker hype cycle of many footwear brands, Allbirds was created with a vision to do things differently. For those less concerned about logos and heavy detailing and more interested in comfort and natural materials, Allbirds has you covered. The footwear company uses ZQ-certified merino wool, which means it meets stringent standards of sustainable farming and animal welfare. According to Business Insider, tech workers in Silicon Valley are referring to Allbirds as the “world’s most comfortable shoes.” In addition to outstanding comfort, Allbirds’ merino wool requires 60% less energy to produce than typical synthetic materials used in shoes. If you’re looking for a more authentic pair of kicks that don’t break the bank, check out allbirds.com. 


Retailer Sezane releases four main collections each year and an additional capsule collection each month.

Though Sezane was founded five years ago in Paris, the French girl chic brand has recently joined retailers like Sandro, Kenzo, Zadig & Voltaire, Maje and Claudie Pierlot in the US. Unlike those in fast fashion, the company has a smaller, more focused SKU list that identifies with Sezane’s niche consumer. Similar to Everlane, Sezane has gone from ‘online only’ to opening a handful of showrooms in France and New York. Sezane’s Instagram-worthy Nolita location gives customers the opportunity to explore the brand in person – including clothing, shoes, a photo booth, accessories and bags galore! Unable to make the trip to Paris or New York? Don’t fret – sezane.com releases four main collections each year and an additional capsule collection each month. 


Looking to spice up your closet in 2018? Reformation designs and manufactures a majority of its limited edition apparel collections at its factory in downtown Los Angeles. Known for its sustainable fabrics, the company is on a mission to make effortless silhouettes that celebrate the feminine figure. From stunningly beautiful dresses to a new denim collection, thereformation.com has something for every occasion.  


Who runs the world? Girls! Wildfang, whose name is German for ‘tomboy,’ offers a wide array of gender neutral fashions. While brands like Zara and Abercrombie have released unisex collections, Wildfang is proving the practicality and permanent need for unisex fashion. Just last year, I attended the Women in Retail Leadership Conference where I had the opportunity to meet Wildfang’s Co-Founder, Emma McIlroy. Emma’s presence radiated girl power and I am completely inspired by her story and vision. Wildfang so nicely complements the gender fluid movement and I can’t wait to see what they do next. Keep an eye on this one.


Lively's mission is to establish an entirely new category of intimate apparel - Leisuree.

A comfortable pair of bra and undies can be life changing (at least for me). Lively makes bras and underwear that blur the aesthetic lines of lingerie, active, and swim, while combining both style and comfort. What sets Lively apart from every other lingerie brand is the company’s mission to establish an entirely new category and outlook on intimate apparel – a movement they call Leisuree. In addition to the product, I’m completely on board with the #livingLIVELY mentality: one that reminds, empowers and enables us all to live life doing what we love, with the people we love. Now that’s powerful!


Professional work wear for women can often be a drag. Yeah, I said it: Downright frumpy, uninteresting and less than flattering. Until now… Meet MM.LaFleur. Founded in 2013, MM.LaFleur helps today’s professional woman build a wardrobe full of gorgeous, versatile pieces that reflect her personal style. Rather than a subscription type model, the brand offers what’s called a Bento. Each box contains 4-6 wardrobe staples that might include anything from a dress to a knit top. Once delivered, the customer has four days to try everything on – keep what you like; return what you don’t. Shipping is free both ways and they cater to sizes 0P-22W. If you’re ready to ditch that outdated black pantsuit, consider exploring mmlafleur.com.

The Black Tux

Men want to look dapper, too! I’m exactly 9 months out from my wedding and yes, I’ve already selected a dress. But has my fiancé even thought about his tux? Heck no! Thankfully, we can rely on The Black Tux – an ecommerce-based formalwear rental startup. With all of today’s retail disruption, how hasn’t the rental market for men’s formalwear changed in decades? The Black Tux takes a different approach to rental garments, creating formalwear with higher quality fabrics and top of the line style. Suit rentals start at $95 and are shipped to the customer 14 days prior to their event. If you have an upcoming shindig and want to simply your life and wallet, be sure to check out theblacktux.com.


For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been awful about taking my vitamins. Now that I’ve turned 30, my doctor has been adamant about incorporating them into my routine. I’d try random brands but they’d never seem to do much. After weeks of reading rave reviews about Ritual, I decided to take the plunge. According to the brand’s website, it’s the only daily vitamin you need (I’m on day one so I’ll be sure to report back). The vitamins are Non-GMO, vegan, have no synthetic fillers or colorants and are manufactured in the USA. Additionally, these little capsules are supposed to help with your skin, aging, energy and mood. If you’re interested in learning more about its ingredients, visit ritual.com.


It’s no secret that luxury skincare has become a hot commodity for beauty junkies and millennials alike. In September 2017, MDNA made its US debut. Madonna (yes, the Queen of Pop) wanted a range of skincare products that were simple and easy to use but also worked. With the success stars like the Kardashians are finding in fashion and beauty, celebrities have been lining up to cash in, but are their products any good? Madonna herself is one such example of putting her money where her mouth is, or in this case – skin. Her MDNA line includes six different treatments – the Chrome Clay Mask and Skin Rejuvenator being the most popular. While a $240 serum is a bit out of my budget, the face wash is more affordable at $50. I plan to splurge on a few MDNA products before my wedding, because who wouldn’t want Madonna’s flawless skin?

Riley Rose

Riley Rose offers a unique shopping experience for both the millennial and Gen Z consumer.

If Sephora, Urban Outfitters, and IT’SUGAR had a baby, the result would be Riley Rose. The beautiful new beauty store was conceived by Linda and Esther Chang, daughters of Forever 21’s founders. So what exactly separates Riley Rose apart from big players like Sephora and Ulta? The retailer offers a unique shopping experience for both the millennial and Gen Z consumer – a destination featuring not only sought after beauty products, but home décor, candy and accessories, too. According to Chang, the store carries approximately 200 brands and will be adding more based on popularity. Let’s just say I’m ecstatic to visit its new Chicago location this month.


Framebridge frames your art, photos and mementos at reasonable prices.

Looking to refresh your home, dormitory or apartment? This $58 million framing startup can help you. Framebridge is an online custom framing service that takes your favorite art, photos or special mementos, and ships them custom framed to your doorstep. If you’ve ever been to a framing store, you know the prices can be outrageous. Luckily, the brand offers 40 different styles and mouldings (starting at only $39). And if you need some inspo, head on over to Framebridge’s Blog – I’m totally digging Five Easy Ways to Design a Gallery Wall


Does your living space need a little TLC? If you mumbled yes, look no further than Havenly. Havenly is a Denver-based online interior design startup that caters to any budget and style. While your typical interior designer could set you back $50-$200 per hour, Havenly offers 3 different design packages. Its ‘design quickie’ is free and offers a 30-minute chat with an interior designer. The ‘havenly mini’ package is $79 and allows you to choose your designer (from over 100 vetted designers), 3 initial designs, 1 design concept and 1 revision, a curated shopping list, concierge buying service, 1-2 weeks of design time and 2 weeks of post design support. And last but not least, the ‘havenly full’ bundle coming in at $199/per room. Known as its best value, the package offers the ‘havenly mini’ plus additional design time, post design support, 3D room visualization and a detailed floorplan. Not fully convinced that this service is for you? Take a look at its portfolio and style quiz



Topics: Mobile Retail Apps, Retail Industry Research, Omnichannel Retail

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