Executive Briefing

The end of Need Supply

The “curator” business case for multi-brand e-commerce is disappearing.

Need Supply

The coronavirus pandemic has broadly benefited e-commerce, with adoption and spending accelerating. But it hasn’t been good for every business, and this week, Need Supply, the beloved online clothing store, announced it would close by the end of the month.

Need Supply — which was founded in 1996 as a vintage Levi’s shop in Richmond, Va. — grew to become one of my favorite online stores by following a refreshingly straightforward formula: It curated an interesting selection of brands from around the world, merchandised the products well with high-quality photography, and sold them on a minimalist, functional website.

I’ll always remember Need Supply as the place where I bought my first real pair of nice shoes — a special collaboration with Alden — and where I stocked up many seasons on my uniform of navy oxfords. (Also where I once splurged on a $100+ dopp kit by Porter, the Japanese luggage gods.)

Need Supply was never a particularly voice-y or flashy brand, but like many great retail experiences, shopping there felt both like discovery and relaxation.

That worked until it didn’t.

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Dan Frommer

Hi, I’m Dan Frommer and this is The New Consumer, a publication about how and why people spend their time and money.

I’m a longtime tech and business journalist, and I’m excited to focus my attention on how technology continues to profoundly change how things are created, experienced, bought, and sold. The New Consumer is supported entirely by your membership — join now to receive my reporting, analysis, and commentary directly in your inbox, via my twice-weekly, member-exclusive newsletter. Thanks in advance.

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