The company’s founder, Laure-Cecile Lafond-Fenonjoie (LCLF) has some bold ideas for the direction that streetwear can move in, using a direct-to-consumer (D2C) model that cuts out the middleman as well as the high premiums that consumers end up paying for retail spaces.
In the direct-to-consumer model, companies manufacture and ship products directly to buyers and sell at a lower cost. The model also allows brands like OtherLinks to experiment more freely with their designs and collections, as they can respond quickly to consumer behaviors and demands. By using the D2C model, OtherLinks isn’t simply competing with other streetwear labels like Comme Des Garçons and Supreme in terms of the product; they’re competing more efficiently and effectively in their practices as well.
OtherLinks uses this model to reach an even broader base of customers who are wild for this avant-garde collection of streetwear staples. From their online store at OtherLinks.com, they can serve fashionable clientele who reside all over the world. Not only is the model a benefit to both the consumer and the company’s bottom line, according to LCLF, but it also forges a much more substantial connection with customers. The standard retail model has fashions going through many mediums before it eventually reaches consumers, with watered-down, made by risk-averse brands.
As LCLF sees it, the quick turnaround makes it essential to listen to your consumer base, and what they have to say matters. On every social media account for OtherLinks, the channels are open to accepting suggestions and feedback from customers. In fact, ‘customer’ is an outdated term for wearers of OtherLinks apparel. Due to their participation in shaping the company’s direction, LCLF calls them ‘Brand Actors.’
This unique approach comes directly from the streets. Taking their greatest inspiration from street performance, OtherLinks designs their clothing to be worn and seen in the urban spaces that we share with others. When you’re in the streets, you have the ability to change what you see and how you participate in the community – so says civic action, and so says OtherLinks. Their pieces range from sweaters to full tracksuits, made from premium, hand-spun Mongolian wool. The brand offers these pieces at reasonable price points (in large part thanks to the D2C model). The brand also partners with up-and-coming street artists whose works appear on a range of t-shirts. They promote the work of these partnered artists on their website and are continually looking for more talents to work with and lend their platform.
Partnering with artists not only injects fresh creativity into their designs but also opens up OtherLinks to other perspectives of what kind of items that true street artists prefer. Many current streetwear brands claim to create ‘luxury streetwear’ – but they sell their apparel at exorbitant prices inflated by celebrity sponsorships and marketing hype. LCLF and OtherLinks are staking their claim on elevating streetwear with carefully selected materials and designs. Their eschewing of the traditional marketing model for a fashion brand keeps them from being tied to a marketing agency. They don’t have expensive showrooms in international metropolises. They also aren’t opening ‘pop-ups’ in high-profile venues multiple times a year, like contemporaries Stüssy or Supreme. And unlike the luxury fashion houses, such as Gucci, Chanel, and Coach, who are rapidly embracing partnerships with multi-brand sites, OtherLinks sells exclusively from their website. Their vertically integrated model effectively cuts out all of the noise, giving consumers direct service and a word-of-mouth marketing model that provides a more holistic approach to retail.
Considering all of the changes in retail consumer behaviors, not to mention the traditional wholesale landscape transformation in the last few years, the D2C model as a no-brainer for LCLF, albeit a model that is nearly unheard of in the streetwear scene. However, it won’t be long until other big names follow OtherLinks’ lead. Their target customers do their shopping almost exclusively online and seek the instant gratification of seeing, buying, and receiving with speed. Also, the upside on the company’s margins is reason enough to adopt the model exclusively.
Under one roof at OtherLinks, you’ll find design, sales, web development, and marketing personnel dedicated to providing fashionistas with a higher level of streetwear attire. Their size and setup allow them to move fast – a new design can arrive at the warehouse, be photographed, and be online and on sale in a matter of hours.
The vertical integration model works best for OtherLinks with its small collections. The team works directly with LCLF, each taking a role in directing the brand and its artisanal styles. Nowadays, most of the longest-running fashion houses, who have decades (and in some cases, centuries) of history, are currently bloated with flagship stores and annual marketing budgets of hundreds of millions of dollars. OtherLinks with their pared-down D2C model is leading the way for more voices and visions to emerge and thrive in the streetwear scene.