I’d been shopping on the online retailer ModCloth for years before I finally learned the story behind the company, and I love it even more now. For those that are curious, there is a video of ModCloth founder Susan Koger giving a guest lecture at Stanford University on how her unconventional methods led to success. I highly recommend it for anyone with an interest in business and/or fashion. For those that don’t have the time to get through the whole thing, allow me to summarize it for you
ModCloth is an online retailer that specializes in cutesy and vintage-inspired fashion for women. It was founded in 2002 by Susan and her now-husband Eric while they were still in college at Carnegie Mellon. Susan had been a lifetime aficionado of vintage clothing and started ModCloth as a way to share and sell the prized finds from her shopping excursions. Although the merchandise was a hit with her users, she soon ran into the issue of supply: everything she sold was only available in one size, one color, and one style, and there was only one of each item.
Susan began attending fashion trade shows to find merchandise to sell in larger quantities alongside her vintage finds. At these trade shows, buyers from retailers review merchandise samples to select what will be sold in their stores. In any season, there are many samples that are not selected by the major retailers. ModCloth, as a relatively unknown retailer, was able to convince them to borrow the leftover samples. Susan had the idea to put post pictures on the website and let them choose which ones they were interested in seeing sold. ModCloth would choose which samples went forward with manufacturing based on the results. This was the birth of their Be the Buyer program.
Even before Be the Buyer Susan found that her customers really responded to the community and feedback features of her website. People loved commenting about the items, writing reviews, and posting pictures of their ModCloth-supplied outfits. Through the company’s effort to nurture that community, ModCloth’s customers remain some of the most active of any online retailer.
One of the reasons I love buying from ModCloth is how specific and detailed their product descriptions are. Shopping online will never be as reliable as being to try on clothes in person, but ModCloth attempts to demystify that whenever possible. On almost every entry, clothing measurements are given for every available size, not just the M or size 8 which is standard for retailers. If a model is pictured wearing the garment, their body measurements are given as well as the size they are wearing.
I never buy anything without at least attempting to read reviews. Luckily, the vast majority of ModCloth’s products have at least some reviews, with their most popular items having hundreds or even thousands of entires. Although the written text contains a lot of good information, ModCloth goes the extra mile by allowing reviewers to add their body measurements and garment size. By entering your own body measurements, you can even search for reviews from users that match your shape. This allows customers to choose clothes that flatter their body type, and get the perfect sizing to boot.
As the years have gone by, ModCloth’s offerings has lost some of its uniqueness in that they’ve began selling more and more pieces that are also sold at major retail stores. One edge that they still hold over a lot of retailers is that they tend to favor what’s timeless over what’s trendy. These clothes are meant to last you through many seasons, rather than be chucked after a few months. I also like that they stock a full palette of colors year-round, rather than just focusing on shades deemed “wintery” or “summery” (who decides these things anyway?).
Because they don’t need to clear space for trendy items, ModCloth has freed up capacity to keep off-season and out-of-season clothing in stock. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve tried going shopping for swimsuits in the winter and sweaters in the summer only to leave empty-handed. Although ModCloth certainly sells seasonal/holiday items, there are just as many seasonless “staples” that hold residence on the site year-round.
Although Be the Buyer and true vintage finds are no longer a part of the site, they were replaced by the launch of ModCloth’s namesake clothing line in 2015. When designing this collection, ModCloth took into consideration the thousands of comments its customers have submitted during its lifespan, making adjustments based on that wealth of information. As a result, the pieces in this line hold true to their aesthetic, but offer a fresh and improved take on looks that their users already love.
I remain a loyal customer of ModCloth, but I can understand why one might shy away from them due to their prices, which can be a little higher than the target demographic can afford. However, as with anything in life, it’s a matter of knowing how to do it right. In a future post, I will share my tips for shopping ModCloth sales and getting the best deals!
Today and tomorrow, ModCloth is offering free 2-day express shipping on any orders $150 and above. SALE ALERT: follow ModCloth on Snapchat to get a 50% off code for a selection of their best-selling items!