Since starting Apartment Therapy in 2004, we've seen a lot of change in the industry; things have sped up, manufacture is largely overseas, people are more connected to ideas and products and old, traditional companies have really faltered. Despite the recession, which knocked homeowners to the ground, cracks have appeared in the pavement and new companies and ideas have shot up. We've watched the rise of flash sale sites, small design retailers, mass online retailers like Wayfair and Amazon, and aggressive cataloging by the likes of Restoration Hardware. Now something else is happening.
Over the past six months I've begun meeting and taking notes on a whole new class of online retailers in the furnishings and home space. Modelled on the success of Warby Parker here in the US and Made in the UK, these new startups are aiming to take over specific niches and deliver you better products at much lower prices.
How? By selling directly to you online, thus removing the costs related to physical stores and middleman distributors. The New York Times recently ran this story on companies doing it in the shaving space, Where Profit Margins Are Hefty, Online Upstarts Muscle In, focusing on Dollar Shave Club and Harry's, and what really remains to be seen is if these new companies have staying power and if they really can deliver a better product for a lower price.
Here is the current class. Ironically their websites have a similar look and feel. Check them out and give me your comments.
Finely made and customizable upholstered furnishings sourced from quality factories in China and shipped to you. Delivery takes 8-12 weeks.
High quality foam mattress in one design and firmness, but multiple sizes. Very competitive price and delivered in a box by UPS!
High end furnishings from upholstery to chairs, tables, cabinets and accessories sourced directly from manufacturers overseas and shipped in "group orders". Prices claim to be 70% lower than typical retail.
Luxury bed linens with a simple design sourced direct from manufacturers and shipped to you for 70% less than retail. So popular, they are sold out right now.
5. Work Of
A slightly different spin in that this company sells high end, originally designed furniture from independent makers. Call this an upscale Etsy for the home furnishings set.
This company also sells direct, but sources it's home products from artisans around the globe. Focusing on sustainability of both earth and relationship, The Citizenry offers handmade, luxury goods at "more reasonable prices" because "there is no middleman."