California-Based Retailer Says “Peace Out” to China Operations

Everlane’s decision to leave China indicates that it struggled to stand out in China’s competitive fashion market. 

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1:58 AM HKT, Sat October 16, 2021 1 mins read

After closing its Tmall Global store on September 12 and shutting down all customer service operations on October 10, Everlane has officially left China, marking the end of its two-year journey in one of the world’s most lucrative markets.

The San Francisco-based clothing retailer became popular in the US for its minimalist design and a commitment to high-quality wardrobe staples. The brand is also known by many for its emphasis on “radical transparency” and sustainability.

For example, to explain its pricing, Everlane listed the cost breakdown of its products (such as the costs of materials, labor, transportation, duties) for Chinese consumers.

Screengrab via Everlane’s official website

The company also found creative ways to highlight its sustainability efforts.

To celebrate its first anniversary of entering the Chinese market, Everlane collaborated with Alibaba delivery service (饿了吗) and Shanghai’s SeeSaw coffee to launch gift boxes made with recycled materials.

Although the company experienced triple-digit growth from March to June 2020, Everlane’s decision to leave China indicates that it still struggled to stand out in China’s competitive fashion market.

According to Jing Daily, experts believe that Everlane’s sustainability message did not resonate with Chinese consumers. Although Chinese people care about sustainability, they tend to focus on more localized environmental issues, such as water and soil pollution. Everlane’s approach, however, is more global and abstract.

Moreover, Everlane’s commitment to “lasting style,” a big selling point in the US, failed to gather enough interest in China.

Commercial strategist Adam Sandzer pointed out, “Whilst a small few are compelled by ‘lasting style,’ many still want trendy and ‘hot’ items.”

Others have suggested that Everlane’s customer support simply could not meet Chinese consumers’ expectations. Vogue Business reported that Chinese netizens on Weibo have complained about the long waits to receive an exchange.

After Everlane announced its decision to shut down its Tmall Global store to its 81,000 followers on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, some followers shared their disappointment in the comments.

“Oh no, please come back soon,” said one user.

“Why is this happening? I actually really like this store,” another netizen wrote.

The disappointment, however, was arguably not shared by many other netizens: there were only 27 comments under Everlane’s announcement post at the time of writing.

Cover image via Weibo

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