5 retail brands we’re watching right now.

If you check out our client list, you’ll see we work with some of the globe’s ‘movers and shakers’ in retail. For decades, we’ve worked alongside retailers to adapt their stores in line with the evolving industry.

A lot of our Retail Innovation Team’s discussions revolve around industry disruptions, and the companies doing the disrupting. Some are retailers in the traditional sense, others in a more abstract way. The team recently put together a (long) list of companies, both new and well-established, that continually challenge the status quo. The following highlights a handful of brands that, for varying reasons, we’ve got our eyes on.

Outdoor Voices

Known by many as ‘OV’, Outdoor Voices has made some serious waves in the fitness/athleisure game over the last five years. The brand was founded with the goal to change the competitive, high-performance nature that fitness often falls in to, and made a quick name for itself with its ‘Doing Things’ tagline. The products are “technical apparel for recreation,” and marketed for all types of activity – running, hiking, yoga, dog walking or coffee shop hopping. OV has steadily (and rapidly) built a community of ‘recreationalists’ that’s basically an organically-grown fan club and helps promote the brand’s message of movement at any time and any place, for any one. What’s been interesting to watch with this brand is that it’s clear the goal is not to compete with companies like Nike, Under Armour or Lululemon, which is part of the reason we think OV has carved a space in the market so quickly. Instead of OV following some of the more established brands, we’ve seen a few product lines from the major players that resemble the OV aesthetic.

Eataly

If you’ve been to an Eataly store, you know these spaces are a true embodiment of the brand’s manifesto. The five locations are all unique in terms of store layout, aesthetics and market demographics, but the Eataly experience is consistent, showing that it truly is a store for everyone. In some ways, Eataly has been a pioneer and inspiration source for bringing the market, retail, and dining experiences in to a singular space, and doing it well. They’ve shown that each of those purposes and their correlating spaces don’t necessarily need to abide to a specific boundary – lines can be blurred and each function can be integrated, and still be successful.

Tuft & Needle

We’ve watched multiple brands like Casper, Leesa, and Purple transform the bedding market into one where you don’t have to set foot in a store to purchase a quality mattress at an affordable price. With their rise in popularity the past few years, multiple brands have launched into the brick and mortar space, as well, including Tuft & Needle. While Tuft & Needle may not have as many stores as similar competing brands (yet), their spaces are beautifully-designed, and make us all wish our homes looked like their stores. We’re excited to see how this brand transforms the physical mattress store experience.

Patagonia

Between donating one percent of sales each year to the environment and closing all stores on 2016’s election day to encourage employees and customers to vote, Patagonia continues to build on its reputation as a company that cares for the earth and its people. Not to mention, their products are consistently good. What makes Patagonia even more of a retail standout is their approach to Black Friday. Over the last few years, Patagonia has stood out in a crowd of retailers cashing in the day after Thanksgiving by encouraging consumers to only purchase items they need, and then donating 100 percent of Black Friday in-store and online sales to environmental groups. In 2016, the brand anticipated Black Friday sales to hit $2 million between its global stores and Patagonia.com. They hit $10 million, and donated all of it.

Equinox

It would be difficult to have a conversation about luxury fitness brands without mentioning Equinox, the self-described ‘high-performance lifestyle leader’. Since the first Equinox location opened in Manhattan’s Upper West side more than 25 years ago, the brand’s portfolio has grown to 135+ locations globally. Aside from premier fitness offerings, this brand is known for luxury amenities – snacks bars with high-quality food and drink offerings, immaculate locker rooms, spa services and products, and outdoor pools with private cabanas at some locations. In 2015, Equinox announced the brand’s expansion into the hotel market with plans to open its flagship hotel in New York City, with the ultimate goal of 50 hotels worldwide. A press release shared that hotel properties will cater to the “high-performance traveler and will fuse luxury and wellness to serve as the ultimate hotel destination with a 360-degree lifestyle experience.” Other retail brands like West Elm and Restoration Hardware have or are branching into the hospitality market, but Equinox is one of the first (if not the first) fitness brands to take on this challenge, and we’re anxious to see what happens.

As previously mentioned, this is only a handful of the brands we’re paying attention to as they disrupt their industries. Stay tuned for more!