Soirée Style, a new Chapel Hill startup, offers the best of both worlds: great fashion and low prices. The fact that it’s local is just the cherry on top.
Think Poshmark meets Plato’s Closet – you’ve got Soirée Style. The concept of the store fills a niche in online retail that hasn’t been touched yet. Clothes are listed and sold entirely through an app; however, there’s a retail space that gives customers the chance to come shop around, try on the clothes they’re looking to purchase and pick the items up. Thanks to Soirée, the issue of receiving clothes that don’t fit or look the way you imagined is now a problem of yesterday for Chapel Hill residents. Interaction with the marketplace through Soirée’s app makes selling and purchasing clothes easier, while the presence of retail staff and inventory on location makes the customer experience enjoyable and helpful. There is a conscious effort from Soirée to provide a combination of best-in-class technologies with great in-person experience. This is what makes the startup so unique in an environment where consignment is growing rapidly.
Customers won’t have to feel guilty about shopping at Soirée either, as inclusivity and sustainability are of utmost importance to the brand.“Though trends have been improving in recent years, participants in apparel retail are not paying enough attention to the exogenous effects their business has on the communities they serve,” said Shaun Pack, the owner of Soirée Style. “Every week we sit down and ask, ‘how can we be more sustainable?’ and ‘how can we be more inclusive?’”
Weekly, the Soirée team members identify an activity or metric they can improve upon and implement the change to evaluate the impact; for example, the company asked customers to donate used grocery bags instead of the store providing manufactured custom totes or sourcing commercially-available bags for purchase.
In the future, the company will partner with campus cultural affinity groups through a fashion show focused on apparel sustainability from the perspective of each group’s respective interests and influences.
The concept of Soirée was born after a conversation about some of the deep-rooted problems concerning the way fashion is productized commercially. It wasn’t until the summer of 2019, after many more conversations and a lot of prototyping, that the pop-up store launched, followed by the iOS app in the fall.
Another unique feature of the brand is a monthly Soirée at Soirée. These are usually casual gatherings including entertainment and snacks to promote the clothing the listers are selling and to connect more with the customers. The evenings are tailored to drive home the message that apparel resale is beneficial for both buyers and sellers, promotes a sustainable and inclusive mindset in fashion and can actually be fun as well.
“Events, education and experiential shopping are important aspects of the evolving nature of retail, and we’re continuing to experiment with events that serve those goals,” Pack said. “We’ll be doing more partnerships, bigger events, fashion shows, educational workshops and other great programming as we move into 2020.”
The nature of retail is continuously transforming as the maturation of technology moves forward and society progresses, and Soirée is certainly ahead of the curve. A mashup of education, inclusivity, sustainability and supporting local without forfeiting great fashion – what’s there not to love?