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Veronica Beard Is a Hit in the US. Will Its Formula Work Globally Too?

The contemporary label is on track to hit $250 million in sales this year. Up next are stores and new wholesale accounts in Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Model in yellow Veronica Beard suit poses in front of a pool.
Veronica Beard opened its first international outpost in London last summer, and expanded to Toronto in January. (Veronica Beard)

Key insights

  • Veronica Beard is on track to increase its sales to $250 million this year, up from $100 million in 2018.
  • It has opened dozens of stores across the US, and is now venturing into the international market with new locations in London, Toronto and Seoul.
  • Pulling off a global expansion will be challenging but Veronica Beard's accessible, feminine styles may have universal appeal.

Veronica Beard is not a highbrow brand, the kind of label that only city-dwelling creative types appreciate.

The brand’s founders, sisters-in-law Veronica Swanson Beard and Veronica Miele, have spent the last 13 years pitching their flared denim, signature “Dickey” blazers and other clothes directly to working moms at just-below-luxury prices. The aesthetic could be summed up as feminine and easy to style, maybe paired with a Chanel handbag that costs more than the rest of the look combined.

“Sometimes designers get super artistic, and that’s great for the fashion industry,” said Swanson Beard. “But if you leave NYC or leave LA, there’s a lot of women with a lot of disposable income who really are looking for easy answers.”

She’s not exaggerating. Veronica Beard is on track to increase its sales to $250 million this year, up from $100 million in 2018. It has opened 25 stores in the last decade, including multiple locations in New York and Los Angeles, but also outposts in Charlotte and Denver, too. The business is profitable, with investors including Theory founder Andrew Rosen.

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Physical interactions with customers serve as a key ingredient in Veronica Beard’s recipe for success in the US. Swanson Beard and Miele Beard, affectionately known as The Veronicas to their employees and most devoted shoppers, regularly attend trunk shows and host in-store events around the country. When the pair travelled to Miami in March, for instance, it held four shopping events in one week.

Now, Veronica Beard is testing whether their blueprint can work outside of the US. The brand opened its first international outpost in London last summer and expanded to Toronto in January. Last month, it opened a location in the Hyundai Trade Center department store in Seoul, its first store in Asia. The label is also recently ventured into the German market via wholesale, and is looking to potentially expand in other European markets, the Middle East, Asia and Australia, the company said. By the end of the year, Veronica Beard will have more than 30 stores.

It’s a pivotal moment for Veronica Beard, and successfully penetrating these international markets will allow it to scale from a mid-sized American company to a bona fide global fashion brand. Pulling it off will be challenging but viable. While American brands like Theory have been able to build lucrative international businesses, they’ve often had decades to build name recognition and the resources of a public company to scale. Many brands, including far bigger retailers such as Gap and Nordstrom, have struggled to make headway abroad.

Getting it right will require a tailored approach to each new market and culture, while still retaining the magic that allows Veronica Beard to thrive in its home.

“If you look at the [total addressable market], we are just scratching the surface,” said Miele Beard. “Think about if we make it in Asia. Maybe it’s not the same formula, but if it is, there’s no reason why we couldn’t grow like that again.”

The VB Fan Club

At a recent event in its Madison Avenue store, Veronica Beard invited Upper East Side shoppers to sip on tequila cocktails while browsing the brand’s spring collection. Ten percent of sales from the event would go toward the Hope For Depression Research Foundation, one of Veronica Beard’s many charity partners through the years.

On this unseasonably warm April afternoon, attendees — women in their 40s and 50s — in pastel-coloured Dickeys and designer handbags oohed and ahhed in agreement with guest speaker Dr. Samantha Boardman, a New York psychologist who spoke on stress and depression among teenagers. Before and after the speech, sales associates ushered the women in and out of fitting rooms, completing sales on iPads without disturbing the cocktail party flow.

At Veronica Beard, the vibes feel communal — more than marketing speak. The shoppers, beyond sharing a similar taste in fashion, appear to share the same kind of demographic and lifestyle: affluent women, mothers who schlep between client meetings and soccer practice and drinks with a girlfriend.

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“Wherever we go, women want to talk about the same thing,” said Swanson Beard. “They want to talk about fashion, but they want to talk about their lives and how they’re getting out the door and doing the things they love. It’s not often as intellectual as it is in New York City when it comes to fashion.”

The events are effective — about 10 percent of total retail sales come from in-person activations — but Veronica Beard doesn’t discriminate where and how it finds new customers. For instance, the brand embraces its wholesale relationship with Rent the Runway. “[Rental] is a part of the ecosystem,” said Swanson Beard. “The customer might not be able to buy a $700 blazer, but she loves it and wants it, and she’s able to rent it. It’s still in her wardrobe.”

Wholesale, in general has been an effective channel, and Veronica Beard counts many major retailers as stockists, including Neiman Marcus and Saks. Recently, the brand is slowly increasing the mix of direct sales, which constituted 30 percent of revenue in 2021, to 60 percent this year.

Not all of its tried-and-true tactics will work outside of the US. The Veronicas’ in-person apperances, for example, will be more difficult to maintain on a regular basis when new destinations are continents apart.

Fit, marketing and merchandising are areas to which Veronica Beard will have to pay extra attention when it comes to international markets, according to Gabriella Santaniello, a Los Angeles-based retail consultant who has shopped with the brand.

“Once you launch, you can’t undo it, so you have to understand the culture with marketing, and sometimes the product has to fit certain specs,” she said. “It’s a tightrope: You can’t be something you’re not, but you also need to address that market, maintaining your brand DNA but making slight tweaks for launching internationally.”

For Veronica Beard, the simplicity and wide appeal of its offering should be an asset overseas, Santaniello added. “To wake up and know that you can grab something from your closet and not think too much about it — that’s a universal appeal,” she said.

The founders agree their international potential. When asked if it’s impossible to build a billion-dollar fashion brand in today’s saturated landscape, the Veronicas answered in a simultaneous, resounding “No!”

“We built this business in a very old-fashioned way — shoe leather, getting out there and selling the product, and shaking hands,” Swanson Beard said. “That is real. That is never going to go out of style.”

Further Reading

How to Take a Brand From Local to Global

For most of its first two decades, Farm Rio was little known outside its native Brazil. But since entering the US in 2019, the dressmaker has made a splash in contemporary womenswear, with sales reaching $50 million in its new market last year. Next up: Europe.

About the author
Cathaleen Chen
Cathaleen Chen

Cathaleen Chen is Retail Correspondent at The Business of Fashion. She is based in New York and drives BoF’s coverage of the retail and direct-to-consumer sectors.

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