May 17, 2023 - Business

Get trendy clothes dropped off at your door each week with Charlotte clothing company Adla

If you love online shopping but despise the return process, keep reading. Adla is a Charlotte clothing company that delivers popular women’s clothing, from brands like Princess Polly and Set Active, directly to your door, and picks up anything you don’t want.

The goal is to bridge the gap between the physical retail experience and online shopping, says Adla founder, 25-year-old Holly Leslie. She adds that “you’d never have to pay upfront to try something on in a dressing room, so why do so online?”

Driving the news: Leslie, a 25-year-old Charlotte transplant, is launching Adla in Charlotte on Wednesday, May 17

  • Each week, starting Friday, May 26, customers will get their Adla bag on their doorstep on a designated “drop day.” They then have two days to decide what to keep and what to send back.

Why it matters: Online shopping is convenient. But anyone who builds their wardrobes online is likely familiar with the less convenient side — like ordering a haul of clothing only to have a fraction of it fit, or missing the return window to then be out a hefty chunk of change you’re not getting back.

  • Or, even if you don’t procrastinate on returns, you’re likely accustomed to the long lines and return processes that differ between companies.

How it works: Conceptually, Adla is a lot like DoorDash, but for ‘fits instead of food. After creating an account, you’ll choose pieces from Adla’s online store — which has over 1,000 brands, according to their website. Most pieces range from $20-$200.

  • You can also choose to have Adla select your pieces.
  • You’ll pay a $20 styling fee that can be used as credit for any clothing you keep (similar to Stitch Fix).
  • The clothes will be delivered to your door on the weekly “drop day,” and you’ll have two days to decide what to keep and what to send back.
  • Adla will then pick up anything you don’t want directly from your door — no shipping involved.
  • It’s not a subscription service, so you can opt in or out as you please.
A look at Adla’s clothing inventory. Photo: Courtesy of Holly Leslie

“I would order a bunch of clothes online. They wouldn’t fit and I would just never take them back to the post office,” Leslie said, recounting when she first came up with the idea for Adla back in 2018.

Flashback: At the time, she was studying biochemistry at Imperial College in London — a career in Fashion wasn’t in her plans.

  • But her pitch for Adla was picked up by Silicon Valley startup accelerator, Y Combinator, which has backed companies like Coinbase and Airbnb.
  • Originally from London, Leslie moved to the U.S. to build Adla.
  • She first saw success testing the concept at sorority houses on college campuses, including High Point, Duke and Wake Forest.
  • Now, she’s taking Adla off campuses and into Charlotte with the help of her co-founder, Caleb Cross.
Adla founder, Holly Leslie. Photo: Courtesy of Caleb Cross
Adla co-founder, Caleb Cross. Holly and Cross met during their time at Y Combinator. Photo courtesy of Caleb Cross

What’s next: Leslie hopes to make Adla more of a social experience.

  • In the future, she plans to launch an app that lets users see and comment on each other’s outfits. “We’ve all texted our friends pictures of new outfits asking if it looks good,” she said.
  • Right now, Adla’s inventory features women’s clothing only, but Leslie says they plan to add menswear.
Keep an eye out for Adla’s customized delivery van. Photo: McKenzie Rankin

My experience: I used the “surprise me” feature for my Adla haul.

  • The bag included six different pieces, including brands like ASTR, Set Active and Edikted.
  • I tried on everything from a workout set to a mini dress.
Each bag also includes a note with item descriptions and pricing. Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios

My thought bubble: Given how my Adla drop was more of a “grab bag,” I thought it contained a solid mix of styles.

  • Visually, I liked everything and was impressed that every piece was something I’d wear, even though I didn’t pick any of them.
  • Most of the pieces didn’t fit well enough to keep (though again, this is likely a product of not hand-selecting what I know would work best for me).
  • I ended up keeping a white off-the-shoulder top, which I think will be a summer staple, and that alone was enough to make it a successful haul.

Details: Adla is now taking orders for their first Charlotte bag drop. You can make an account and order a bag here.

The Alexandra Dress ($60). Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios
A workout set from Set Active ($39 for the top; $59 for the leggings). Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios
The white top I kept (it was $47 and I used my $20 credit to make it $27). Photo: McKenzie Rankin/Axios
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