Dote, a Virtual Shopping App, Releases Its First Private-Label Brand With a YouTube Star

'High Key' will be sold exclusively on the app

Emma Chamberlain is YouTube creator with more than 3 million subscribers. Andre Nguyen
Headshot of Ann-Marie Alcántara

Emma Chamberlain isn’t a total household name yet—but she’s on track. In just over a year, her YouTube channel has grown to more than 3.5 million subscribers, and her new clothing line, High Key, is debuting today on the virtual shopping mall app, Dote.

High Key is Chamberlain’s own brand and treated like any other retailer on the Dote platform. It is the app’s first private-label clothing line. The brand was announced and released with a secret presale storefront on July 17 dubbed Low Key and sold out within two hours. Shoppers can try their hand again at buying some of the nine items on sale today, like scrunchies selling for $6.50 each or the $64 dollar Poopy Jacket, a brown, fuzzy piece that Chamberlain’s known for wearing in her videos and Instagram posts.

“For a Gen Z girl today, they’d rather shop from their favorite YouTuber, their closet, their preferences, than from a top-down Urban Outfitters or other brands like that,” said Lauren Farleigh, co-founder and CEO of Dote.

The presale launch was a testament to Chamberlain’s style and her personality, as her YouTube videos are relatable and fun, with some focusing on her texting a crush or makeup tutorials that poke fun at those videos.

For Low Key, she scrambled up the names of the items and her loyal followers had to unscramble them to figure out what the items were (photos of her wearing the clothes were also censored). It was one way that Farleigh said everyone could participate, even if they couldn’t buy the products. The presale also included a ‘90s-type website, complete with Comic Sans font, clip art, a visitor counter and a simulated chat experience with Chamberlain to gain access to the presale.

“This is an experience—it’s not just a product,” Farleigh said. “It’s an experience of getting to be more like Emma.”

Your mother’s brand rollout this is not.

Dote is tapping into Gen Z early on, considering they have $44 billion in spending power, according to a report from Mintel. The company’s attention is also focused on social media, a May 2018 Snapchat report states, with 70 percent of them watching YouTube in their free time with friends and 62 percent scrolling through social media.

Combine the three and it’s a no-brainer why Dote or other companies, like Choosy and /Nyden are heading in that direction. Dote’s average daily user comes to the company’s app four times a day and views more than 75 products in each shopping session—an opportunity that’s ripe to take ahold of Gen Z’s views and shopping.

“If they want something, they can find a way to get it and that’s really what you have to solve for,” Farleigh said. “Their celebrities are these YouTube creators and social stars.”

Chamberlain has a leg up than other retailers, like American Eagle or Forever 21, on the platform however, as she’s also a Dote creator, giving her more tools and influence than a typical brand. For example, she can favorite any item, which means it will show up on all of her followers’ feeds.

She can also have her followers vote on polls she creates. If she chooses to do the same for her clothing line, it’ll give her an extra boost that other brands don’t have. Farleigh expects the official launch to sell out same-day, but said it will be restocked in sizes XS-XXL (the current line is one size only) and new styles (but some items, like the “Grandma” scrunchie will not be coming back).

For Chamberlain, the clothing line is a chance for her to show off her style that she cultivated growing up middle class in Silicon Valley, where she attended school with affluent kids and learned to thrift from an early age.

“I wanted to give people a good closet base,” Chamberlain said. “Anyone can pull off anything but it’s hard to believe that yourself. I think these pieces are simple and versatile enough where they would reach a large audience and it’s also things they’ve all seen me wear.”

Currently, Dote has no other plans to work with more YouTube creators and designing more private labels.

“There’s an appetite for this in the market for sure,” Farleigh said. “For us, it’s really delivering an experience where you get additional intimacy with this creator that you love that’s very special and unique to them so I don’t think it’s just cranking out private labels and slapping YouTubers names on them.”

@itstheannmarie Ann-Marie Alcántara is a tech reporter for Adweek, focusing on direct-to-consumer brands and ecommerce.