The Rise and Fall of Piperlime

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Remember Piperlime? It was Gap’s attempt to compete with Zappos, and it flailed around for about nine years before Gap pulled the plug. Budget Fashionista talked about Piperlime a fair amount during its lifespan, from 2006 to 2015. Here’s what we had to say.

Piperlime’s Unclear Mission

When Piperlime launched with an online presence, and later, a physical store in SoHo, we were puzzled. It wasn’t immediately clear how Piperlime planned to one-up Zappos or ShoeBuy.com or any other online shoe store for that matter. At first review, the prices and selection were comparable — but Zappos was still the king of online shoes, thanks to free shipping both ways.

This is from our coverage of Piperlime’s launch in 2006:

Okay, I’m a bit confused about the Gap’s new shoe site, Piperlime.  I’m sure some retail analyst somewhere told the company that selling shoes online is the way to bring up dismal sales.  However, there’s really nothing to compel me to shop at this site versus shopping at an established shoe site (with FREE UPS shipping and returns) and price guarantees like Zappos.com or ShoeBuy.com

Also, the initial use of Rachel Zoe as their “style expert,” was a complete misstep. Does anyone really care what Rachel Zoe has to say? Especially since her high profile clients have started to drop her (and Nicole Ritchie looks a thousand times BETTER now than when she was being styled by her, although she isn’t acting better)?  In addition,  the name Piperlime sounds like some household product invented by the guy who invented Oxyclean.

Not everything is bad about the site. The site has a nice selection of shoes from designers like Hollywould, Steve Madden, and Kenneth Cole in a reasonable range of sizes (5-12 for women). The prices are just as expensive as Zappos.com and the site does offer free standard shipping and free returns. You can also use your Gap, OLD Navy or Banana Republic credit cards to make purchases.

The Budget Fashionista

Piperlime Opens Pop-up Shop in Soho

Piperlime’s pop-up shop, formerly located at 93 Mercer Street, carried a variety of brands that included Marc Jacobs, Rebecca Taylor, and 7 For All Mankind. The launch was celebrated with a special kickoff party on Fashion’s Night Out with a guest appearance by Rachel Zoe.

When the store opened, we said:

We are giddy with excitement to see what the Piperlime shop had to offer. Just a few blocks from the new Chanel store and diagonally across the street from American Apparel we spotted the green Piperlime sign and charged right through the doors to get our personal preview and we were not disappointed. First off, any fashion lover would appreciate how they divided each section of the store by trend. There was Military Inspired, Vintage Embellishments, and English Prep, we think this makes it much easier for you to shop. They even had a special Rachel Zoe pick section just for those shoppers who need the approval of the reality TV star.

We also liked that they had a large denim bar in the middle of the store. We all know how hard it is to find great jeans and it looks like they have you covered on options. There was a nice selection of fun flirty dresses, sequin tops, and military style jackets.

We fell in love with the selection of shoes and handbags too. They carried everything from Jessica Simpson animal print booties to a Linea Pelle studded leather satchel. The pop-up shop seems like a perfect fit for the Soho area due to some pricey basics, like t-shirts priced at $80. However, the shop does offer a number of wallet friendly items under $100 like a cute pair of Michael Antonio suede studded booties for under $80 and some amazing jewelry under $50.

The Budget Fashionista

What the Piperlime Shop Looked Like

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Piperlime store
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Piperlime Shoe Picks

Despite Piperlime’s unclear branding, we did shop the store over the years. One of our favorite collections was this assortment of summer sandals.

Emma-Pink-Phila
Emma Pink Phila, on sale $29.97
Very-Volatile-Snap
Very Volatile Snap, on sale $29.97
Charles by Charles David Motif sandal
Charles by Charles David Motif, on sale $34.97
BC-Footwear-Like-Mother-Like-Daughte
BC Footwear Like Mother Like Daughter, on sale $19.97

Piperlime’s Return Policy

Online Returns

You can return or exchange items by mail only within 45 days of your order date. When you mail your purchase back to us using the pre-paid UPS shipping label, they’ll deduct a flat fee of $6.00 from your order refund for return postage. You can return or exchange any item that’s in its original condition (unwashed and unworn) or defective, unless it was purchased for final sale. All swimwear must have the original price tags and hygienic liner intact (with the exception of Athleta styles).

And, Finally, We Say Goodbye to Piperlime

In January of 2015, Gap announced the end of the Piperlime experiment, citing sluggish sales and the need to refocus on issues prevalent in the company’s flagship brands. See Fortune’s brief write-up of the announcement here.

 

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Catherine Brock

As a Southern California transplant now living in the Midwest, Catherine has turned layering into an art form and accepted that UGGs actually do have a place in the stylish lady's wardrobe. She's been featured in Woman's World Magazine, DrLaura.com, Refinery29, Wellness.com and has made appearances on ABC7 Chicago, FOX2News St. Louis, KCAL9 Los Angeles, Fox19 Cincinnati, WGN TV Chicago and WCPO TV Cincinnati.

Blog Comments

Piperlime.. Footwear launch of the year?
The voters are probably the same folks who thought the denim skirtall was going to revolutionize the denim industry.

http://money.cnn.com/news/newsfeeds/articles/prnewswire/SFTU03005122006-1.htm

Yes…pretty much our take over at Fashion IQ as well.  The most ridiculous was the Bob Tedeshi article about them in the Times…it was like Gap PR handed him an article and he put his name on it.

By the way, the inbound link from Coutorture.com to this article isn’t working.

Thanks,
Chris

Nothing about Piperlime makes me want to switch my loyalty from zappos.com, which has fabulous customer service, and shoebuy.com, which has a less-than-great selection but really good discounts.

I rely on the user reviews and multiple 3D views at zappos.com; I always get discount codes for shoebuy.com, 6pm.com, etc., and I’ve yet to see a single one from Piperlime (even though I have gap company credit cards); I love the price protection that zappos.com and shoebuy.com offer (I’ve used it and, as the BF wrote, Piperlime doesn’t offer it).

As for the name “Piperlime,” it sounds like some marketing people tried to put together a word that sounds young and hip – very contrived. But I wouldn’t care about the stupid name (I mean, “zappos” isn’t all that enticing either) if the site had something to offer that other sites don’t already do better.

The Christie pumps remind me of Warhols lyrical drawings from the early 60’s. This site does have some nice offerings from Kenneth Cole and I actually prefer them next to the Doc Martens. Are there any plans to include these into the Gap stores?—- The name Piperlime doesn’t make me feel one way or the other about a shoe line. Its quirky—but the shoes are nice.

Re. lagging sales.  If I don’t go to the Gap for clothing why would I think of looking for shoes there?  I’ll stick with Zappo’s.  I agree with Sandra – the free shipping and buyer reviews are great (

And the Christie shoe – there’s too much going on – ankle strap, leopard skin print, sequins/crystals (?), platforms.

This is a joke, right?

*sigh* as I go back to Zappos…lol

Ewwwww!

hmmm i hate the selection as it looks very bootleg…. somehow I found my most wanted boot of the week on piperlime.com—but trust that this boot is hot and not bootleg at all!
torn…

I have been confused by piperlime; the promo e-mails say “Gap’s new shoe site” so I assume it will sell Gap brand shoes.  When I go there, all I find is a Zappos knock off and mostly higher priced shoes (even though I don’t think of GAP as high-end).  So after that long run-on, I vote Nay!  I don’t see it succeeding.

There is no such thing as free shipping.  The consumer pays one way or the other.  And why shouldn’t they?  UPS doesn’t provide their service for free.  The cost of shipping is built into the price of the shoes.  When you call about the price guarantee, Zappos will compare their price to the competitor’s price plus shipping.

Hi –

We’ll see – my 9 year old daugher’s feet are too big now for the kids dept.  and she still likes sketchers – Piperlime has great prices on many sketchers styles – 50% less than some other websites

I live piperlime.  YOu can search much more easily that Zappo’s.  Also, piperlime reduces much greater than Zappo’s.  they have the usual seasonal sales.  Shipping is fast and nicely packaged.  My daughter is a investment analyst in NYC and she turned me on to the site.  Guess the big city fashionistas know where to go.

After shopping and both Zappos and shoe buy (6pm) as well as Piperlime. I can honestly say that I prefer Piperlime. Their customer service is better. Just try dealing with Zappos if you have a defective shoe! Also when they put their shoes on sale they STAY on sale unlike Zappos where they have 2 year old shoes listed again at full price!

I found the perfect boots I was looking for on Piperlime.  I like the website, too.  If I’m looking for something in particular and find it—I don’t care where it comes from.

I’d never heard of piperlime before the other day, but was desperate to buy a unique pair of boots for a costume party that were sold out on every other website.  Piperlime randomly came up on a google search.  I’m always loyal to zappos, but piperlime did have the pair of boots I wanted, in stock, for a lower price.

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