This question turned out to be harder to answer than you might expect. I know, from a business and marketing perspective, having a very specific image of your “target customer” is important, but so much of what our brand is about is accepting that our fans don’t fit just one “type”. She might be athletic, she might be artsy, she might be social, she might be shy—she might even be all of the above. (We even recognize that, while we use the she/her pronouns, we would love to see non-binary or cis-male fans in our clothes as well!). That said, generally speaking, she’s high school or college aged, passionate, authentic, and connected to her community. She’s tired of having to choose between inexpensive fast-fashion that doesn’t last and popular women’s brands that are too expensive or don’t quite fit her style. She’s looking for a brand that speaks specifically to her, and not her mom or her younger sister.
What makes you different / sets you apart from competitors?
Size chart. Looks like a complex scientific graph.
Our biggest differentiator is our approach to size. We were frustrated with the “one size fits all” approach and message of other brands, and we wanted to create something that addressed more sizes and shapes. Especially for teen girls, who are growing in all different ways and rates, we wanted to create a brand that everyone in a friend group could wear. Having more sizes presented a challenge from a cost and logistics perspective, but it was really important to us. We currently cover sizes from about 12/14 kids’ to size 10 women’s. Our A-B-C-D-E system (and pants come in 2 lengths for each size) gives us the ability to add where we see demand—which brings me to our other differentiator….
We are all about listening to our fans and delivering what they want and need. We want them to collaborate and co-create with us. That’s why we’ve incorporated a lot of space on our website for photos of real girls in our clothes. We love to see how they style them—everyone has a different take. We also love to poll our followers on Instagram about new colors and designs they want to see. It’s a win-win: they get to be involved in what we deliver, and we build an enthusiastic fan base.
What are your key items and what makes them special?
Current selection of items.
We wanted to launch with a really tight assortment—we’ll have 12 different styles to start—so picking one favorite is hard! The key driver of our brand are the comfortable fabrics we selected across all pieces. We feel really good about our Sweats category. We began developing it even before that’s what everyone was living in. Our Cozy Cloud Fleece, which is the base for all of it, is the softest blend of cotton, rayon, and recycled poly. It literally feels like wearing a cloud (but warmer and dryer.) Once you put on our Comfy Crush Hoodie and Dream Joggers, you won’t want to take them off.
But we wanted to be more than just another Sweats brand. We’re also really excited about our Elevated Essentials. We used the same comfort-driven approach to create a few pieces for when you need something a little nicer than the just-off-the-couch look. For example, we have a ruffled mini skirt and cropped rugby made from a soft and smooth modal fleece. One of our Ambassadors joked “I could sleep in this and save time in the morning before school!” Lastly, we’re rounding out our collection of essentials with a few Base Body Wear pieces: a bralette, a cami with built-in shelf bra, and, of course, some leggings. Once again, we went for the comfort approach, so our fabric is not too tech-y, but equally wearable all day in class or out for a run.
Color palette — what’s the background on it and how did you decide?
Soft, pastel color palette.
Our color palette came about by polling our fans. We found that what they really wanted were clothes in colors that they loved and make them feel good, and not necessarily tied to seasons. So our launch collection is heavy on pastels, even though we knew we were launching for fall, because that’s what everyone was gravitating to. Then we added some more neutral colors to help ground it—olive, vanilla, and our marine blue (which is like denim), and threw in orchid as a pop color. We’re excited to get more active with our community in getting their feedback on colors, through our Instagram account and on Pinterest as well.
What is the meaning of your name? And how you started.
Just like much of our other decision making, our name came about through polls. Before we even launched Woodley + Lowe, we set up an Instagram group of about 150 high school girls (mostly in NY, but some across the country), to help us with branding and other initial design decisions. We brainstormed a number of different words and names that reminded us of high school/college (for example, Woodley is the road that my high school is on in Washington, DC), and then we polled our Instagram group. Turns out they loved the idea of pairing two names together, and we did too. It’s come to represent to us, as a brand, the yin and yang of everyone’s personality—sometimes you’re playful, sometimes you’re serious; some days you might want to dress up and go out with your friends, and other days you just want to sit in bed and watch Netflix.
What’s next with your collection? What can we see in the future?
What’s to come
We’re already well into development of our Spring drops. Even though our pieces are meant to be worn year round, we know it’s important to infuse some newness. We’ll definitely carry over what we expect to be the most popular styles, and add some fun colors. We’re also excited about some more summery pieces that have a kind of retro-summer-camp vibe. Mainly, we’re just excited to continue growing our collection of comfortable essentials to endlessly mix & match with each other or your other favorite pieces.
Where are the clothes created and made?
All our clothes are designed in NY and hand made in LA. To be honest, being new to the fashion industry, I never really stopped to think about what really went into that. Now I realize, when I see something cut a little off, or a label that’s not quite centered, I think about the fact that there was a real person cutting this fabric and sitting down to a sewing machine, and I find that really endearing. It also helped me understand the prices that many good fashion brands charge, as it forced me to think about the fact that someone who is skilled at this craft took time to hand make what I’m wearing, and that person’s time and skill is worth something.
Ambassadors — tell me about them!
We took a different marketing approach than most other direct-to-consumer start ups, who seemed to turn on a website with cool branding and then pour a bunch of money into Facebook and Instagram ads and watch people come to their site. But we think the Gen Z consumer is savvier, and most of their purchase decisions come from “what are my friends wearing.” So we decided to create an Ambassador program—real girls, not paid influencers—to sing our praises to their friends. Ambassadors can apply through our website, and they’ll be emailed a few questions to answer about themselves. We accept anyone who’s interested, as long as they’re 14 and older. (If we get to a point where, logistically, we can’t handle the numbers, we may institute a waiting list, but everyone will eventually be accepted!) In exchange, they get a discount code and other perks, and we ask them to refer friends to shop and send us pictures for our website and social media. So far we’ve loved getting to know this enthusiastic group!
Thank you, Woodley + Lowe! I am inspired by female entrepreneurs that have a mission and accomplish what they set out to do! I can’t wait to get my hands on one of your hoodies!