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Editor's pick Retail

WeWork launches retail vertical to promote members’ brands

WeWork's WeMRKT
WeWork’s WeMRKT

WeWork has launched WeMRKT, a new retail space featuring products made by WeWork members, giving up-and-coming companies visibility, support and feedback within the co-working space’s community.

Products will  include healthy snacks, office necessities and branded apparel. Julie Rice, the company’s chief brand officer, said the new format is “by our members, for our members” and that WeMRKT is “a great example of WeWork’s commitment to our members’ success”.

An initial selection of 10 products featured was chosen in a pitch competition in April, with winners being selected through criteria such as innovation, eye-catching packaging and a solid business plan. Included are brands such as Banana, a plantain chip company aiming to eliminate food waste on organic banana farms, and Misfit Juicery, which makes cold pressed juices using ‘ugly’ produce that farmers are unable to sell elsewhere.

Competitions will now be held quarterly, and winners will also further distribute through SnackNation, a healthy snack delivery service that partners with WeWork.

For chosen companies, this is an opportunity to not only promote their product, but receive more immediate feedback, says Molly Peterson, director of communications at yoghurt brand Icelandic Provisions. “That feedback actually really helps us in terms of product development,” she says. “We are really honored and feel lucky to have that kind of instant visibility within the WeWork community.”

WeMRKT’s first location was unveiled on June 25 at the New York WeWork 205 Hudson, with more locations planned to open in the city and across the country, imminently.

As legacy retailers struggle to react quickly to retail’s ever-changing climate, independent brands are increasingly being more nimble in their approach and finding new channels in which to get their products in customers’ hands. Also in New York City, for example, is Bulletin, a “flea market” type of store that rents shelf space to up and coming brands who were born in digital, enabling them to sell in the physical space.

Not all established retailers are ignoring this trend, however. In May this year, Macy’s announced it was acquiring Story, a retail space that changes its concept and merchandise every four to six weeks. Story’s founder Rachel Shechtman, now Macy’s brand experience officer, has been tasked with bringing the experiential nature of the concept into Macy’s department stores throughout the country.

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product Retail technology

SoulCycle teams up with Ultracor to create personalized leggings

SoulCycle x Ultracor
SoulCycle x Ultracor

Fitness brand SoulCycle is working with performance wear line Ultracor to give customers the opportunity to personalize their own pair of leggings in minutes.

A continuation of the duo’s collaboration in the summer of 2017, the partnership sees new Ultracor kiosks set up in select SoulCycle studios that allow indoor cycling guests, or “riders” as they’re known, to design and personalize their individual styles.

The kiosks are launching with five different legging designs; each one using next generation digital printing, patented built-in shapewear and breathable fabric.

The result means riders are able to customize their leggings in a number of ways to make them a perfect fit. By including height in the design process, the Ultracor kiosk is able to ensure that the knee break and waistband heights of the leggings are in a comfortable position for the wearer.

Customers can also select the exact shades they’d like to use for parts of their pants from a full color scale, rather than a few options. The designs can then be further personalized with the addition of up to 10 characters of text that are added to the back right side.

Soulcycle x Ultracor
Soulcycle x Ultracor

Each design is priced at circa $200 and new styles will be added to the kiosks every couple of weeks. The leggings are delivered to the customer within three business days.

The initiative is an interesting example of SoulCycle thinking beyond the idea of being a fitness studio and instead considering its role as a lifestyle brand; thinking about the retail side of things to drive consumer engagement and new revenue streams.

Brand collaboration has been long been a feature of SoulCycle’s strategy. It recently partnered with luxury fragrance company Le Labo to update its locker room amenities, for instance.

It has also partnered with a number of fashion brands to create capsule collections, and in a surprising twist, New York bakery Milk Bar, to create a protein post-workout cookie.

At SXSW this year, the company’s CEO Melanie Whelan joined Milk Bar’s Christina Tossi in a panel to discuss the importance of collaboration as part of a cult brand’s DNA. “Introducing new moments to surprise and delight consumers is key,” Whelan said.