Ssense, a Canadian retailer that has emerged as a major contender in the online multi-brand luxury space in recent years, has laid off 138 employees, the company confirmed to BoF.
The job cuts resulted in a 7 percent reduction of its overall workforce, marking the first time Ssense scaled back its headcount since its founding 20 years ago.
The company said the move was motivated by slowing e-commerce growth and an uncertain economic climate.
“This decision was based on a number of factors, including a shift in consumer online shopping back to pre-pandemic levels as well as the macro-economic environment,” Ssense said in an emailed statement. “Our long-term strategy remains unchanged; we remain focused on being the preeminent destination for fashion and design, and scaling our global platform.”
Ssense joins a growing number of brands and retailers that have slashed jobs in recent months as consumer spending slows down. Last week, sportswear brand Gymshark announced 65 job cuts in its US division, while Everlane laid off 17 percent of its 175 corporate employees earlier this month.
The layoffs across the fashion tech sector reflect a stark reversal of the gains that e-commerce brands saw in the wake of the pandemic, when online shopping spiked from homebound shoppers.
In the summer of 2021, Ssense sold a minority stake to Sequoia Capital China in a deal that valued the retailer at $4 billion. The investment made waves in the online luxury retail space dominated by much larger players like Net-a-Porter and Farfetch.
Ssense offered consumers something different from its competitors: by identifying and, in some cases, investing in up-and-coming independent labels, the Canadian e-tailer touted an edit and curation totally idiosyncratic from its peers. For instance, Ssense was among the first stores to carry Marine Serre, Nensi Dojaka and Fear of God.
Its vast mix of indie brands and traditional luxury players like Gucci and The Row made Ssense the go-to online boutique of a certain kind of aspirational shopper: young, culturally tapped-in creative types with outsize influence among their peers.
But running any fashion e-commerce business comes with a tough set of obstacles. Shipping and fulfilling orders requires sophisticated logistics systems in warehouses at costs that are constantly rising. Price-conscious consumers in the US expect frequent discounts. On social media, shoppers often post about their bargain finds during one of Ssense’s famous sales.
Ssense has not disclosed sales figures, but the company told The New York Times that it was on track to bring in $750 million in 2021. According to media reports, the company is profitable and has been since its launch in 2003.