As the blogger behind the shopping site Madison Avenue Spy and a mother of three young girls who love clothes, Hayley Corwick knows plenty about trends.
But recently, Corwick was surprised when her 17-year-old daughter Jolie came home begging for a dress from LoveShackFancy, a brand she’d never previously mentioned. Jolie’s closet is filled with labels like Brandy Melville and Lululemon, and she’s long pined over pricier items like Hermès Clic Clac bracelets and Yeezy sneakers. But increasingly, all Jolie and her friends were talking about was LoveShackFancy and its signature ruffle dresses.
“LoveShackFancy is probably the most status item that this age group can buy,” said Corwick.
The Gen-Z favourite brand is known for its bright $295 floral-patterned dresses and $225 ruffle mini skirts and as of late, has been enjoying some virality on TikTok. There, videos featuring LoveShackFancy dresses have become an increasingly frequent sight, particularly during sorority recruitment at the University of Alabama, which became a TikTok sensation last month.
But LoveShackFancy’s success extends beyond the platform. At Revolve, sales of the label have grown 50 percent year over year and it has risen to the top 20 percent of brands on Rent the Runway. It’s also seen a boost thanks to the proliferation of cottagecore — that is, the countryside aesthetic of floral patterns and Victorian silhouettes that became popular on social media during the pandemic.
“LoveShackFancy perfectly encapsulates the romantic cottagecore vibe everyone craved during Covid,” said Kristin Koch, the editor-in-chief of Seventeen. “Young people weren’t escaping to country homes, so they just created beautiful images on TikTok instead.”
LoveShackFancy is probably the most status item that this age group can buy.
Now, the independently owned and operated LoveShackFancy is capturing the Gen-Z purchase, competing with giant fast fashion brands like Shein and Boohoo as well as teen staples like Abercrombie. What makes LoveShackFancy stand out, however, is that it has managed to convince Gen-Z to shop at a higher price point.
“We are seeing young people actually saving up to splurge on these dresses,” said Koch. “It’s not a Gucci price range, but it’s still a lot to spend when you’re a student, so it really speaks to their desire.”
Unapologetically Over the Top
No matter the trends, LoveShackFancy sticks to its brand identity, which hasn’t altered much since former Cosmopolitan editor Rebecca Hessel Cohen founded the label in 2013. Hessel Cohen, who describes her style as “old-world,” was a collector of Victorian and Edwardian-era vintage pieces, and felt that fashion wasn’t serving the customer who wanted romantic, feminine styles.
She got her start as a designer making bridesmaid dresses for her own wedding party before creating a label of beach dresses that she sold to local boutiques in the Hamptons. But in expanding, she hit roadblocks. At the time, minimalism reigned in fashion.
“There was definitely a lot of resistance from buyers and stores, saying, ‘Can you go more modern? Can you do cleaner lines and less flowers?’” Hessel Cohen told BoF. “But … my dream was [to] create something that was like a modernised version of these clothes I like in vintage.”
There was definitely a lot of resistance from buyers and stores, saying, ‘Can you go more modern? Can you do cleaner lines and less flowers?’
Others reassured her a whimsical, romantic aesthetic could take off. They were right. In 2017, the brand was picked up by Net-a-Porter and Shopbop, and sales started to swell. LoveShackFancy began selling internationally the following year at Harrods, Harvey Nichols and Selfridges.
Today, it’s developed a following in the UK, Hong Kong, Australia, Germany, France and the United Arab Emirates, said Libby Page, the senior market editor of Net-a-Porter. In the US, LoveShackFancy’s popular markets are New York, Los Angeles, Texas, and Florida.
Last year, LoveShackFancy released a collection with Target, which sold out quickly and helped grow its fanbase even further. LoveShackFancy has also made efforts to reach college students, like hosting graduation events on campuses.
On TikTok, Gen-Z users praise LoveShackFancy for going with everything (although grumbling about price point is also a popular meme). But while the clothes are the main ingredient to the label’s success, how shoppers are styling them on social media has also helped contribute to its growth, Koch said.
“Influencers have really been leaning into wearing LoveShackFancy in beautiful fields, picking flowers, and Instagram-worthy photos are the posts that get the most likes,” said Koch. “The dresses are coming into Instagram and TikTok feeds because the beautiful pictures help them get seen.”
A Winning Price Point and Distribution
LoveShackFancy’s price point is accessible but still aspirational for Gen-Z. Teens are willing to spend more on the brand because of its aesthetic, which evokes status, Corwick said.
The company’s dresses and skirts can retail for as much as $800, but its best-selling items hit a lower price point, like its signature Natasha dress, which sells for $295. Those lower prices are especially important for younger customers.
Influencers have really been leaning into wearing LoveShackFancy in beautiful fields, picking flowers, and Instagram-worthy photos are the posts that get the most likes.
“It’s an attainable luxury for teenagers,” said Corwick. “And for parents, you’re okay to spend $300 to make your daughter happy because at least she doesn’t want something that’s $3,000.”
Higher price points, however, keep the brand relevant for an older audience too. Hessel Cohen said the team makes sure to introduce new colours and prints for its $225 skirts each season, while also introducing pricier pieces with embroidery or high-end fabrics so they can sell for more.
And while other young fashion brands have been solely focused on building digital-first, direct-to-consumer businesses, LoveShackFancy equally emphasises wholesale, retail, and DTC. Brick and mortar is a place for the brand to create that sense of luxury that has lured Gen-Z in, with stores decorated in elaborate wallpaper, regal furniture and crystal chandeliers, while it views wholesale as a crucial customer acquisition tool.
“[Wholesale] definitely helped us, as a brand, get new customers in areas that we aren’t in currently, and it helps us to learn where our future stores could be,” said Stacy Lilien, the brand’s president.
Looking Beyond Ruffles
LoveShackFancy’s current success has meant an explosion in interest in garments featuring its signature attributes, like ruffles and florals. But there’s a danger in being known for one or two styles, as shoppers eventually move on when the next trend hits. Already, other brands that have sold floral prairie dresses like Batsheva and Hill House now make other styles too.
Failing to evolve as its passionate customer base grows out of sorority life could also hurt the brand in the long run. Some TikTokers have already dubbed LoveShackFancy as ‘cheugy,’ the somewhat derogatory term Gen-Z has swapped “basic” for.
The brand is making shifts to help ensure continued growth. Hessel Cohen said LoveShackFancy is expanding its assortment of knitwear and sweaters — items that still lean femme-romantic, but don’t scream cottagecore quite as loudly.
In the past year, LoveShackFancy has also started selling loungewear, fitness apparel and a bedding collection. It’s set to open three more stores later this year, in Florida, Texas and South Carolina.
“Brands evolve and trends move on, but we’re seeing that people really like this pretty romantic, return to nature look,” said Koch. “LoveShackFancy already won the attention, which is half the battle.”
Additional reporting by MC Nanda.