Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Playing "Fair"

Life in the online retail and apparel business CAN be fair. At least that's the premise that Bill Bass, former Lands End eRetailing expert thought when he decided what to "do next." Bass and some of his former Lands End co-horts have debuted a new brand/site/catalog called Fair Indigo which is selling Fair Trade clothing and accessories for Men and Women.

Bass was the driving force behind both the discipline and innovation that the eCommerce team at Lands End was famous for. This overwhelming success in converting Lands End from a nice sized cataloger to a Multi-channel powerhouse started with Bass' vision of how people prefer to shop, and carried through from there. This was the key reason why Sears decided they needed to buy Lands End and adopt many of the online tactics that Lands End had used to grow... in order to make Sears a major online retail player.

His new venture is interesting. After leaving Sears, he formed a group called Black Wolf Group and invested in a moving company in the Southwest. All the while however, people were talking... they knew that he wouldn't go too far from the online apparel space and at some point, you knew that he'd have an original idea. Now the proverbial cat is out of the bag; Fair Indigo has debuted not with a large national ad campaign... but a website and some interviews. Grass roots. I doubt seriously you'll ever see a Fair Indigo ad on the superbowl show but, I do think you might see Fair Indigo take the "red bull" route to marketing and commercial success. Viral marketing, email, sponsoring events that are eco-friendly, all aimed at a market that is growing and growing.

And... his first generation site... nothing to sneeze at for sure. A PHP-based site (imagine that... a new world company using open source) with all kinds of AJAX tricks. Great zoom, wonderful product photography, a really cool conditional text/back order feature... overall a very concise and easy experience. I predict that Fair Indigo will "Fare" well. I know for one, I'll be buying one of their tee shirts to support the cause (As soon as I can get it in a Large...).

Wanna learn more? Check out these links:

Fair Indigo.com
Fair Indigo Foundation
Wisconsin Business Article (09/15/06)

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