Wone is an invite-only platform that sells leggings and other exclusive apparel to its members, each of which is handpicked by the brand

When brands launch, the goal is often to be as accessible as possible in order to build a customer base. But one new athletic apparel company called Wone is taking a decidedly different approach—it requires each potential buyer to apply for access to shop its collection.

Wone is adding extra steps where the process is usually meant to be painless. The startup is currently selling its third collection, which is only available to members online and at places like Barneys New York and the Webster hotel in Soho. The brand doesn't bother with advertising and its pieces start at over $100. Membership is allowed only at the brand's discretion. And yet, the formula is working.

“I’m not a fan of herd mentality because it follows and doesn’t contribute anything thoughtful,” says Wone founder Kristin Hildebrand. “It might feel like we are adding friction from the outside looking in; however if you are a client who’s receiving the level of service and attention we offer, you would have a different point of view.”

Jaclyn Campanaro/Wone

Wone prioritizes connection between the brand and its most loyal fans, allowing only a select few to participate. For shoppers of a certain income level, this kind of service is precisely the kind of members-only shopping experience that makes them feel valued. And this unusual business model allows Wone to offer a much higher level of customer service, offsetting the cost of its exclusive apparel.

“My clients have my personal cell phone number, email me directly and have general access to myself and my team whenever they need it,” Hildebrand says. “I am absolutely trying to connect with a certain customer. I want engaged customers who care about themselves, care about the environment we live in here on Earth and love life.”

Wone


Lead image: Dane Wetton/Unsplash

When brands launch, the goal is often to be as accessible as possible in order to build a customer base. But one new athletic apparel company called Wone is taking a decidedly different approach—it requires each potential buyer to apply for access to shop its collection.

Wone is adding extra steps where the process is usually meant to be painless. The startup is currently selling its third collection, which is only available to members online and at places like Barneys New York and the Webster hotel in Soho. The brand doesn't bother with advertising and its pieces start at over $100. Membership is allowed only at the brand's discretion. And yet, the formula is working.