The Arrivals has launched to be the cool new brand when it’s cold outside.
Selling a limited line of high-end outerwear, The Arrivals is the latest ticket-holder to embark on the direct-to-consumer branding voyage that has fascinated all kinds of entrepreneurs vying to be the next Ralph Lauren, Nike, or — in this case — Barbour.
The team guiding The Arrivals to its final destination certainly has chops. Co-founded by angel investor and serial entrepreneur Kal Vepuri (whose portfolio includes Warby Parker, Reformation, Sweetgreen, Artsy, Harry’s, Oscar and Oyster) and Jeff Johnson, a designer and architect who teaches at Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, Vepuri says that Johnson’s architecture-trained eye for detail is critical to getting the highest quality pieces.
Johnson and Vepuri met through a mutual friend in 2007. “He was a well-regarded architect and had just finished up Pratt and moved to Rotterdam. He spent four years there and then decided to move back,” says Vepuri. That’s when they connected on The Arrivals.
For both men, the business of fashion is a far cry from their previous endeavors. Vepuri made money in telecom by acquiring broadband spectrum and then flipping that spectrum to regional and national acquirers, who he would not disclose.
While Vepuri’s business-savvy and experience as an investor with a number of retail brands like Warby and Reformation, it’s Johnson’s architecture and design prowess that are driving the aesthetic sensibility of this brand.
There’s also a business case for the product, says Vepuri. “It’s a market where we saw there’s a huge discrepancy between efficiency and quality,” he says. “We wanted to fill that gap in the marketplace and focus on beautiful design at a reasonable price. All our items are priced under $700 and our range of pricing is between $200 and $700.”
As a man who’s never paid more than $100 for a coat (I buy used — or in the summer) that price tag still seems kind of hefty, but I’m not Vepuri’s target audience.
The clothes are made primarily in New York and The Arrivals now has a team of eight working on the line full time.
Currently, the company’s stocking 9 coats: four for men and five for women.
The market for consumer products is huge, and the ability to go direct to consumer is a powerful tool for any fledgling brand, but the jury is still out on how successful these businesses can be. Trunk Club was a great investment for its venture backers, but Bonobos has raised over $100 million in venture investment, according to CrunchBase, and the company has yet to indicate whether it will go public, and could still falter.
One issue is the inherent lack of a barrier to entry and the need to actually create a brand that works. It’s as much art as it is science according to many entrepreneurs in the industry. And the difference between hitting the ground running and being dead on arrival can amount to a single misstep.
Still, the draw of a huge market to navigate is hard to ignore, especially for an investor like Vepuri. “We think outerwear in a classically defined way is a multi-billion dollar business,” he says.