Michael Preysman: Founder & CEO, Everlane

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Michael Preysman, 29, is the founder and CEO of Everlane, an online-only clothing and accessories brand based in San Francisco, California. At the age of 25, Preysman left his job in venture capital and founded Everlane in 2011--with the objective to provide consumers with great design at an approachable price point, and encourage them to know the costs and origins behind their purchases. By cutting out the middleman and openly sharing the costs behind each product, Preysman has become a distinguished leader in the transparent retail space, and a disruptor of the luxury clothing industry. Everlane now employs over 45 people at offices in both the Mission District of San Francisco and SoHo in New York City.
Prior to starting Everlane, Preysman was an investor at Elevation Partners for both their New York and Menlo Park offices investing in media and entertainment companies. He graduated from Carnegie Mellon with degrees in Computer Engineering and Economics.

How did you get into the fashion industry?

I went into venture capital after graduating because I wanted to see how companies were built. While there, I learned a lot about traditional retail markups and couldn't understand why a shirt that cost $8 to make was selling at stores for $50 and up. I just didn't understand why clothes cost what they do. So I set out to start a company that would offer the same quality products at disruptive, direct-to-consumer margins.

Tell us about Everlane. What inspired the idea and what is your vision for the company?

Everlane launched in November 2011 with a simple mission. We have no physical stores, no middlemen taking their cut, and no crazy brand markups. Instead, we create our own luxury essentials at the same factories as other designer brands and sell them at Everlane.com for truly disruptive prices. By operating entirely online, we save on all the costs associated with physical stores and gain tremendous flexibility in production. We work with the best factories in the business, and create the shortest path from production to consumer. We never compromise on quality. Our collections are intentionally pared down so that we can design with the closest attention to detail.

What strategic partnerships have you implemented that have attributed to Everlane's successs?

I see our recent collaboration with illustrator/model Langley Fox as one of our strongest partnerships to date. We worked with her to create two styles of tops which debuted in July. When they launched, it totally exceeded our expectations - we sold way more than we imagined we would.

What industry trends are you noticing and how do you capitalize on them?

The Langley Fox collaboration is a good example of the kind of shift we are seeing towards more basic items that are made really well. I think people want to be able to invest in pieces that are staples in their wardrobe without having to break the bank. Well-designed, luxury basics at accessible prices are what we specialize in.