Business

From clothes to couches: How Burrow’s launch is proof of a rapidly maturing modern luxury market.

NEW YORK — Burrow’s launch this week is further proof of modern luxury market progression from startups creating products you can wear, to upstarts that are trying their hand at products that are more advanced. Using Burrow as an example, “from clothing to couches” might be a good way to think about this ongoing shift.

Here’s what to consider:

The market is maturing, in other words, and the ambitions from entrepreneurs are becoming grander. Part of this is necessitated by the fact that most categories in clothing are already overstuffed with competition. The market does not need, to take one easy example, yet another generalized activewear brand.

What we’re seeing here then is a different phase of the market. The first phase of the MLC market was focused on the actual body, on things you could wear, on personal everyday style. The second phase is a bit more complicated and more lifestyle focused: Home-related upstarts and furniture companies are on the rise.

Bedding upstarts Casper, Leesa, etc. while the most visible, aren’t the only ones that matter here — there are also furniture, office, and homewares firms that are adopting the simple, DTC approach pioneered by their clothing and accessories cousins, and brought it to things like desks, tables, couches, lighting fixtures, showerheads, etc. — Pirch, Floyd, to take two examples.

This is all part of a natural progression. Let us explain: The MLC space from the start has been obsessed with the idea of solving problems. For most of these entrepreneurs, that’s entailed building or creating products that either didn’t exist on the market today — or to the proper specifications — and delivering them more conveniently to customers by operating direct-to-consumer instead of opening up a brick-and-mortar store.

Clothing, obviously, was an easy first step. The shirting market is a good example here: Back in 2008, dozens of made-to-measure and ‘tailored’ shirting brands popped up because most young men couldn’t find the right type of shirts that fit their lifestyles at Brooks Brothers or Zegna.

Your day-to-day wardrobe, be it business or casual, now solved, the next problem that a lot of creatives and independents see as something to solve is the home and the office. This is a natural progression: particularly at a time where more and more young adults (the MLC core consumer) are working for themselves or small upstarts. Good quality, cost-effective, customizable, and conveniently delivered sofas, chairs, tables, and desks have been hard to come by, but new arrivals like Burrow are offering a solution.

Now whether the model makes money or not over the long term — Casper still isn’t profitable — and whether there will be a fallout down the line if things become too hot, remains to be seen. For right now, though, new companies like Burrow have a reason to exist.

Burrow’s prospects? Frankly, compared to Casper, it’s a harder road. When Casper launched in 2014, the idea was completely new: It basically created the DTC mattress market. Burrow, however, enters a slightly more precarious furniture market. One leading competitor, Greycork, recently folded. And Campaign, another competitor, by virtue of being older, is several steps ahead at this point. This market will surely be and interesting one to watch.

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