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10/11/2022
RL Pro Exclusive

Retail Unicorns Face Reality

Elizabeth Lafontaine
Chief Retail Analyst, Retail Leader Pro
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Unicorn chess piece

A few years ago, digitally native direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands exploded onto the retail scene, creating an entirely new avenue of shopping for consumers. Long gone were the “gatekeepers” of traditional retail models and these brands — think Warby Parker, Casper, Away, Glossier and Allbirds —found a niche in connecting directly with their consumers and supplying them with merchandise that challenged long-held retail traditions. But, as is often seen in this industry, these brands are finally facing the reality of both needing to grow rapidly while also reaching and maintaining profitability. Selling directly to the consumer via e-commerce only provides so much momentum in a store-based economy, and many of these brands have been acquired, opened stores or looked to wholesale opportunities to tap into new customer pools.

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