Spring 2009 Whimsy is a Brand at LittleMissMatched

LittleMissMatched is a “lifestyle company” that encourages whimsy, reflected in its line of socks for kids and adults featuring polka-dots, stripes, zig-zags and a host of other colorful patterns sold in mismatched packs of three. Why packs of three? When the dryer eats the second sock-an mysterious event every consumer can relate to-there are no worries as LittleMissMatched wearers go on their merry way wearing the third (equally mismatched) sock. For LittleMissMatched customers, socks “match because you say they do.”

The company’s offbeat products and upbeat philosophy have, well, knocked shoppers’ socks off. In less than five years the line has been picked up by dozens of boutiques and mall retailers, including Macy’s, which last year opened 80 LittleMissMatched “shop-within-a-shop” concepts in stores nationwide. (The first shop-within-a-shop opened in 2006 in New York City’s FAO Schwarz and remains there today.)¬†

Since its launch in 2004, LittleMissMatched has grown far beyond socks. Pajamas, loungewear, swimwear, flip flops, accessories, jewelry, bedding, toys, school supplies, books and mix-and-match furniture are all available in stores and on the company’s retail website, LittleMissMatched.com. Wholesale customers stock the lines that are most relevant to their customers (a footwear retailer might stock LMM socks and flip flops, while a children’s retailer might stock the company’s entire lineup). Catering to retailers with various needs over the years, LittleMissMatched has become adept at maximizing display space while attracting attention-experience it put to good use in 2008 as it dipped its toes in the brick-and-mortar waters.

In 2008 the company launched four company-owned kiosks in the New York/New Jersey/Pennsylvania tri-state area, three in malls and one in Grand Central Terminal in New York City. “In order to maintain consistency and evoke the same emotional response from our customers, we reinvented the kiosk and developed a new model that is unlike any other kiosk out there,” says Jonah Staw, CEO and co-founder.

The company also opened two pop-up shops in 2008, in part to land more retail sales, in part to increase brand awareness and in part to test the waters for a permanent flagship store. One store was in the New York’s SoHo district, on the corner of Spring Street and West Broadway. Another was stationed on Columbus Avenue and 75th Street. Both stores offered the entire line of LittleMissMatched accessories, room d√©cor and apparel, but the two locations reflected different demographics.

“The Columbus store was in a neighborhood and family-centric area, while the SoHo store was in the heart of a primarily tourist area,” Staw says. The stores were scheduled to operate only for the November/December holiday season, but due to their success, “We extended the leases for an additional two months.”

Also this past holiday season, the company operated booths at several coveted New York holiday gift fairs open to the public, including those in Grand Central Terminal, Union Square and Columbus Circle. The booths featured best-selling gift items such as sock change purses, pajamas and the company’s signature sock trios.

“By opening two pop up stores and three holiday fair booths in New York City, along with our shops-within-shops at Macy’s Herald Square and FAO Schwarz, LittleMissMatched took the city by storm this holiday season,” says Public Relations Director Jessica Varon. The company’s retail sales last year topped $32 million (up from a mere $5 million in 2004).

For specialty retailers, though, the most exciting news may come later this year. “We are considering kicking off a ‘Marvelous Merchants Club’ for retailers to develop their own LittleMissMatched stores,” including kiosks, Staw explains. “These would appear to be LittleMissMatched stores to the public, as they would solely sell LittleMissMatched products, but they would be owned and operated by independent retailers.”¬†

The company “would support the kiosks in the same manner as we support the stores, through special terms, marketing, and brand and market development,” adds CFO Brigid Foster.

A new apparel line is also set for launch in 2009, Staw says. The line will include denim, sweaters, hoodies, leggings and more, all reflecting the unique LittleMissMatched lifestyle.
With a New York flagship store on the horizon, new products set for launch and a Marvelous Merchants Club for independents in the works, clearly the prospects for LittleMissMatched in 2009 are… anything but little.

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Emily Lambert

Lambert, a senior writer for SRR, resides in Philadelphia. She can be reached at .
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