Fitting in at ModCloth



It’s pretty safe to say most retailers are expanding into the digital world and increasing their online presence by making their products available online. Last year alone, online retail in Australia grew at five times that of the more traditional ‘brick and mortar’ sales. It seems counter-intuitive, then, that online retailer ModCloth would do the complete opposite. The end of 2016 marked the opening of the first ‘brick and mortar’ store for the retailer; up until then they had been doing all of their business online. The store was opened in Austin, Texas. A city known just as much for its quirkiness as ModCloth, creating a seemingly perfect match. I was lucky enough to go on a trip to Austin, Texas recently and was excited to be able to visit ModCloth in real life and wanted to share my experiences.

I’d always been a fan of ModCloth, of the style, the positive body image, and not to mention the abundance of cat related products on offer. In visiting their physical store I was mostly excited to be able to try on many of the retro and quirky styles, which are something I am more hesitant to buy without physically seeing. The store is located in Austin’s downtown on the 2nd ave shopping district. Immediately it draws you in with the large corner location and ceiling to floor windows showcasing mannequins of several different body shapes sporting colourful, unique patterned outfits. Stepping into the shop I was immediately greeted by an assistant who was more than happy to explain to me the concept behind the store.


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ModCloth’s ‘brick and mortar’ store is not your conventional retailer. According to the brand, they call their physical location a ‘fit store’. That is, they don’t have all sizes on the racks. If you want to try anything on they will bring it to you from their back room. To buy you order it through a sales assistant online with express shipping. I was absolutely fascinated by this process and was immediately excited to try it.

I was given a form by the shop assistant to fill out all the pieces I wanted to try on and specify which size I wanted it in. This was fun, walking around the store with a little clipboard writing down the information of the pieces I liked. It felt to me a little like Ikea, walking through the showroom and writing down the codes of the things you want. When I was ready to try things on I was given a dressing room, the cat one (obviously) and an assistant filled it with all the clothes I had written on my form in my size. She even brought me out an item I hadn’t put on the list, just based on the things I chose she thought I might be interested. The assistants are obviously told that the customers are their number one priority and it is clear that having less stock on the shelves (and hence less restocking and returning items), they have more time for it.

I was glad to be able to try the clothes on in person, being able to tell which clothes I needed a different size in, which is always one of the hardest things about online shopping. When I was done trying everything I wanted and was ready to checkout, things were a little different. I didn’t see a typical counter with the expected register. Instead, my shop assistant lead me to a desk in which she took down my order and my address. With purchase at the store, my clothes were ordered with express shipping through the regular ModCloth site. Unfortunately not as gratifying as regular shopping, not getting the physical item until two days later. This did suit me as I was traveling but normally I’m the kind of shopper that wants to wear the new piece straight away.

Overall it was a really strange experience as far as regular shopping goes and I do think that is the point. ModCloth is trying something new and trying to change how we shop. I did like being able to try on clothes from the retailer and I can imagine other online brands benefiting from this (the ASOS brand for a start). I didn’t love not being able to walk out of the store with my purchase; It will be interesting to see if this concept works for them in the long run and if, like they said when they opened, they would expand to other store locations.



Claire is a born and bred Canberran who made the wild decision to quit her job and move to Seattle, USA. She is a kickass scientist and is adding to those superpowers by learning how to code. She loves cats, travelling, the outdoors and taking photos. Follow her adventures on Instagram @clairestcaptures

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