Toronto-based intimates brand Knix, known for its leak-proof underwear, wireless bras, and bold marketing campaigns, is beginning to expand into physical stores after several years of selling products online only.
The brand, founded in 2013, opened its first two permanent retail stores in October—one in Vancouver’s Kitsilano neighbourhood, and one on Toronto’s Queen Street West. In addition, under a new partnership with Nordstrom, the full line of Knix products is available at all Nordstrom locations across Canada until the end of 2019.
Knix’s direct-to-consumers online sales strategy has been very successful for the brand in recent years, helping the company become the sixth fastest growing company in Canada based on three-year revenue growth, according to Report on Business’s 2019 ranking of Canada’s Top Growing Companies.
However, after having success with pop up shops in the past, as well as with its by-appointment-only showroom, Knix determined that some customers liked having the opportunity to try on the products before making a purchase.
“We’ve seen that there’s interest [in shopping at physical stores],” says Knix founder and CEO Joanna Griffiths. “We know that there is a group of people who want to touch and feel and get fitted for the product.”
Griffiths notes that with bras, especially, it can be challenging for customers to determine the right size. To ease the experience for customers shopping online, Knix offers a flexible returns and exchange policy, as well as customer support seven days a week.
“We’ve done as much as we can to remove every barrier for online shopping,” Griffiths says. “But, some customers just want to come and touch and feel the product. So, it felt like it was time to open [some stores], and really invest and put our best face forward, and create more of a branded experience compared to what we’ve done before.”
Dominated by shades of pale pink and yellow, the new stores have a warm and bright feel, and each features an original mural by Toronto-based artist, Leia Bryans.
The Toronto store, at approximately 2,500 square feet, is significantly larger than the 1,100-square-foot Vancouver store. “We’re testing two different concepts,” Griffiths says.
A key difference in the Toronto location is the spacious fitting room area, which contains multiple individual change rooms as well as a seating area. The entire fitting room section can be separated from the rest of the store by a curtain, which aims to create a private and comfortable space for customers.
“We want to redefine the fitting room experience,” Griffiths says. “We’re trying to make it feel like a bridal salon.”
Knix will likely explore the possibility of opening additional locations once the brand has had time to assess the performance of the first two stores, Griffiths says. “We have a lot that we want to learn from the two locations, and then we’ll take best practices and go forward from there.”
The Nordstrom partnership, meanwhile, creates additional physical touch points for Knix in Toronto and Vancouver, while also bringing the brand’s products to Calgary and Ottawa.
“We really wanted to create a moment within Canada where people can go and have as many locations to try the product on as possible,” Griffiths says.
The new distribution strategy comes as Knix has been steadily growing its product offerings. The brand recently launched a maternity and post-partum collection, as well as a product line geared towards teens.
All of Knix’s products are inspired by customer input, according to Griffiths. “We’ve really embraced our relationship with our end customer,” she says.
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Knix also incorporates its customers into its marketing and advertising campaigns. The brand’s ads showcase real women of all shapes and sizes and at various stages of life, in an effort to help women feel comfortable in their own skin. Earlier this year, the brand was presented with the 2019 Retail Marketing Innovation Achievement Award from the Retail Council of Canada.
Griffiths attributes the company’s growth and success to its commitment to its customers. “The way that we’ve been building our brand, we’ve really put our customers at the epicentre of everything we do,” she says. “We tell their stories. We are facilitating conversations that aren’t being had elsewhere, and it’s really connecting people.”