NEW YORK, United States — Nearly a decade ago, two sisters-in-law with the same name launched a fashion brand with a signature jacket: the Dickey, a classic one-button blazer, and a hoodie insert that goes underneath. It retailed for $895.
Today, the Dickey jacket and its many iterations live on, generating 30 percent of ready-to-wear sales for Veronica Beard, the full apparel line for which exceeded $100 million in 2018, according to the founders. On a Thursday afternoon in early February, the Veronica Beard store in Soho carried a dozen different Dickey jackets — in denim, leather and in various patterns of plaid, including a “Clueless” yellow.
Although its price tag has since been tweaked — it now hovers between $600 and $800 — the persistent success of the Dickey jacket is emblematic of the brand’s unrelenting growth. Veronica Beard is backed by Andrew Rosen among a private group of investors the founders declined to name. They said the company is profitable.
In the past four years, its sales increased at an average annual rate of 90 percent. Between 2017 and 2019, Veronica Beard’s headcount increased nearly threefold. At a time when fads flip flop overnight and when the life cycle of a brand can be as ephemeral as an Instagram post, the success of the Veronicas is almost an anomaly.
“When we built this business, we built it organically and thoughtfully and have been incredibly careful in terms of who we choose as wholesale partners. We study locations [for stores] and study our customer bases,” said Veronica Miele Beard. “And it’s been an interesting mix of direct-to-consumer and wholesale. You can have both, you can have it all.”
This year, the brand is adding up to four more stores to its current five, which are in New York, Long Island, Los Angeles and Dallas. Currently, the business is 65 percent wholesale and 35 percent direct-to-consumer, which is split between brick-and-mortar retail and the online shop. Veronica Beard boasts 500 distributors globally, including Nordstrom, Shopbop and Bergdorf Goodman. On Monday evening, the brand will showcase its Fall 2019 collection at New York Fashion Week.
In the spring, the company will kick off a wholesale partnership with Rent the Runway and expand its wholesalers, ranging from Net-a-Porter, Selfridges, Harvey Nichols, Printemps, El Corte Inglés and La Rinascente. Working with Katie Sturino from the Instagram account, @the12ishStyle, it will also release a capsule collection with extended sizing, from 00 to 24, and then continue to release more products in this wider size range.
“We’re very passionate about our [direct-to-consumer] expansion, being able to own our destiny and have the direct conversation with our customer,” said Veronica Swanson Beard.
The Beards attribute their growth to two key points. First, their niche in the contemporary “elevated sportswear” space and their particular price point, which they lowered by about 30 percent in 2014 because their original positioning in the "opening designer" space was highly competitive.
And second, their relationship to the customer as not only a clothing line but a lifestyle brand, appealing to women by speaking their language.
“It’s very approachable. We’re not this austere fashion brand. We’re in the mix and on the road talking about babies and skincare and anti-aging and all the real things that are going on,” Swanson Beard said. “We’re constantly just trying to design the things you rely on in your wardrobe: Get dressed, feel good, look good and get out there do what you love.”
The founders say their customers range from age 20 to 70-plus. That’s not hard to conceive. The brand’s tailored blazers, cropped jeans and breezy summer dresses have been trendy enough for younger celebrities like Demi Lovato but inoffensive enough for Meghan Markle, the duchess of Sussex who has been photographed on multiple occasions wearing the label.
“When someone like Meghan Markle wears our clothes, it answers all the questions. We’re reaching people, and they’re anointing this. We can’t pay for that,” Swanson Beard said.
The brand in fact did not pay for digital marketing until last year. “Now our budget is growing every year,” Swanson Beard added, “But we also do a thousand trunk shows. We speak publicly at fashion shows, and on the road, we are constantly thinking of ways to interact with our customers that are organic.”
Also case in point of Veronica Beard’s mass appeal is the 20-something Fashion Week attendee perusing the Soho store Thursday afternoon, accompanied by her boyfriend in an Off-White hoodie. “Oh, these are so smart,” she said, pointing to the attachable “Dickeys” that go inside the signature jacket. Later in the BoF office, a coworker quips, “My mom really loves that brand.”