Skip main navigation

Case study: fashion brand Reformation

In this article, the Ethical Fashion Forum speaks to Los Angeles based sustainable fashion brand, Reformation, about who their customer is.
Floral chiffon maxi dress from sustainable brand Reformation
© Reformation

In just five years, Los Angeles based fashion brand Reformation has become a cult brand for cool girls selling only direct-to-consumer through their online shop and three physical boutiques, one in downtown Los Angeles and two in New York City. Reformation has grown not only sales but has expanded its product range and team year-on-year and is projected to triple its sales this year alone. So what is Reformation’s recipe for business success?

Reformation “makes killer clothes that don’t kill the environment.” Every Reformation product is designed, made, photographed and shipped from their innovative eco-facility in downtown Los Angeles. And each style is made using repurposed vintage clothing, salvaged deadstock fabric or new sustainable materials.

Fit For Purpose

Reformation’s model customer is really specific but represents a lot of women in their 20s and 30s; she’s “a waitress who makes £125 in tips on one night of work and wants to go buy a dress for a first date.” Prices range from £50 – £400. As the brand’s founder, Yael Aflalo, puts it their customer is “a badass urban creative type that lives freely but not neglectfully.”

The overall aesthetic fits their target woman perfectly. It’s a bit bohemian, a bit rock-and-roll, a bit sophisticated – a perfect balance of femininity, minimalist cuts and being on-trend without being trendy.

For Reformation, having a good product always comes first. Yael demands that style, design and fit is spot on. The brand philosophy is that products are designed for real women with all different body types, meaning they don’t take a one-style-fits-all approach. Reformation offers specific pieces made to look flattering on curvier, fuller body types.

Developing a unique selling point

Since most products are made using deadstock fabrics or repurposed vintage clothing, everything is made in limited editions. This gives Reformation the opportunity to experiment with styles and cuts. It allows them to tailor small runs to a specific type of customer.

The limited edition nature of each product also creates a sense of urgency for their fans. If somebody likes something, they need to purchase it straight away, otherwise it sells out forever and can’t be replicated. Reformation has used this to their advantage, driving sales and creating a customer that is more like a collector.

Using deadstock and repurposed vintage fabrics is one of the big ways they manage conventional production challenges too. The team buys fabrics first and then designs products based on what they were able to procure. This actually works as an advantage to the design process as well. The design team is given certain materials to work with, which creates limitations that makes it less taxing to make design choices. Having to be more focused means they end up with a better product.

© Mysource Ltd
This article is from the free online

How to Build a Sustainable Fashion Business

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Reach your personal and professional goals

Unlock access to hundreds of expert online courses and degrees from top universities and educators to gain accredited qualifications and professional CV-building certificates.

Join over 18 million learners to launch, switch or build upon your career, all at your own pace, across a wide range of topic areas.

Start Learning now