With three stores already in operation, La Ligne, the brand launched by two Vogue alumni, Meredith Melling, CBO, and Valerie Macaulay, CCO, and a former Rag & Bone fashion executive, Molly Howard, CEO, is setting its sights on Greenwich CT. Set to open this June, the new location exemplifies the independent label’s recipe for success informed by trunk shows and online data.
Much like the New York store that sits on Madison Avenue next to luxury businesses such as Sydney Garber jewelry, The Mark Hotel, and Sant Ambroeus, the Connecticut store will be on Greenwich Avenue and in proximity to Saks Fifth Avenue, Rag & Bone, Frame, Love, Shack Fancy and Veronica Beard. The Veronica Beard team, also near their Madison Avenue location, have been supportive business colleagues, even offering up a store manager to brief the brand on the habits of local shoppers.
“Having proximity to luxury, customers think it’s the same price point, but when they see the product, they are surprised to find it more attainable,” said Macaulay.
In an interview in the Upper East Side store, the first retail location that opened in 2019, Howard and Macaulay revealed what’s made their company experience 100 percent YOY since launching in 2016. (Only 2020 was approximately 50-60 percent YOY growth.) The mainly online DTC brand operates 80 percent online and 20 percent in person but much of its initial growth resulted from in-person trunk shows, which helped organic growth while providing key insights.
“After about a year, we started doing trunk shows across the country at friend’s homes,” said Macaulay. The intimate in-home experiences also built-up customer loyalty and tested the waters for physical stores such as Dallas, Palm Beach, and Greenwich, CT. Several occurred in Dallas informing the Highland Park Village location, which opened in November of 2020. Soon requests from customers to host were coming in.
“Some people get intimidated by trunk shows, especially for high price merchandise, but our T-shirts start at $95, so there isn’t a huge pressure to buy a $750 dress they don’t want,” observed Macaulay.
“It’s not key to the business from a dollar’s perspective and hard to calculate the traction the trunk shows provide, but attendees become our best customers, telling their friends that spend time with founders who styled looks so its endorsed,” said Howard adding, “It was important to evolve according to what our customers were telling us they wanted as opposed to big wholesalers.”
Rather than reinvent the wheel with an entire collection that launches four times yearly, La Ligne evolves concepts and drops four to five pieces weekly on Tuesday and often finds them sold out the next day. Prices fall into the high contemporary realm but have a luxury feel. The chunky seven-ply Marin sweater sells for $295, and dresses range from $295 to $495. The brand also doesn’t put anything on sale. French-influenced Marinière sweaters inspired the brand’s core piece, the Marin sweater. The brand has also become known for ruched or smocked cotton and silk dresses and pajamas as it grows.
The striped T-shirt and sweater-centric brand launched in 2016. The concept was born from Melling’s and Macaulay’s desire to have a seasonal wardrobe palette cleanser by creating a uniform of the roughly six pieces the stylish women wore themselves. Both Macaulay and Melling were Vogue market editors (Macaulay would pivot to bookings editor) and found the barrage of new collections they experienced seasonally overkill to the point that any collection messaging was lost in the shuffle.
Howard joined after a finance career at Credit Suisse that had most recently found her working at Rag & Bone during crucial growth years, getting involved with merchandising, business development, and more. Macaulay said the label also reflected their high-low dressing habits, i.e., a classic striped Breton T with designer pants.
“We saw that no one owned striped the way we wanted to, which was more European,” she said, noting that even as the collection grows to include pattern, the line is always a hallmark trait of La Ligne.