Something Navy Starts Its Second Life as a DTC Brand

We spoke to founder Arielle Charnas and CEO Matt Scanlan about the brand's strategies.
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Something Navy

· 3 min read

Today’s launch of Something Navy, a DTC apparel line by influencer Arielle Charnas, asks a new question in e-comm: Can influencers revolutionize DTC like they did #spon content?

Investors and execs say yes. Something Navy launches with a $45 million valuation after raising $10 million last August.In a conversation with Retail Brew, Charnas (founder and creative director), and Matt Scanlan (interim CEO), explained why investors bought in despite a doomsday mood in retail and Charnas’s recent controversies.

New tags

Like many other influencers, Charnas parlayed her 1.2 million devoted followers into successful, but name-only, clothing partnerships before.

  • Her 2017 collab with Nordstrom’s Treasure & Bond line sold over $1 million in 24 hours.
  • A 2018 rendition of Something Navy for Nordstrom sold over $4.4 million on its launch day.

Wholesale didn’t fit. Charnas told Retail Brew that she didn’t have full design and quality control over her past collections—a problem that’s deteriorated other influencer collaborations. And Scanlan said that going wholesale left Charnas in the dark about supply chain practices.

Running a DTC brand, Charnas has control unseen in other influencer lines. So far, that’s meant tapping a design director who matches her design sensibility and a commitment to using sustainable materials (although the brand wouldn’t share specific details).

The best laid launch plans...

...were changed by 2020’s headline events: First COVID-19, and then widespread protests against racial injustice. In response, Something Navy postponed its debut by four months.

Changes are still happening. The pandemic indefinitely delayed the opening of Something Navy’s NYC storefront. Charnas added that emerging consumer trends have somewhat altered merchandising decisions: “We’ve pushed up some lounge to launch that we were going to launch later down the line,” she said.

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Charnas and Scanlan said they’re committed to increasing representation of Black and POC employees at HQ, though plans weren’t specified. And in a launch-time effort to better represent its customers, Charnas said the brand entirely re-shot its e-comm images.

More than likes

Despite the delays, Something Navy claims it has a leg up on other recent DTC launches: “We haven’t put a dollar into marketing,” Charnas said. The reason? Her followers are still presumed to become customers.

Something Navy has also harvested data on everything from price point to SKU style and color. Data sources span frequent Instagram polls, with “hundreds of thousands” of replies, to affiliate click-throughs and direct messages.

Short term…Something Navy’s HQ team will make real-time decisions based on customers’ social media behavior—eliminating the guesswork other retailers face in their design studios.

Long term...tailoring its products to shoppers’ precise demands could help Something Navy catch DTC retail’s white whale (profitability) by reducing excess inventory. “We’re looking at between 30% and 40% profitability on this organization and that’s not because we take huge margins on the product,” Scanlan said. “It’s because we’re thoughtful about the mix of distribution to promote healthy cash flow.”

Early results? A Something Navy rep told Retail Brew that the brand sold approximately $1 million of merchandise within 30 minutes of launching this morning.

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