State of Evolution

Evolve Clothing Gallery Uses Innovation to Reach the Cutting-Edge of Fashion and E-Commerce

When RanD Pitts and his wife, Joan, were batting around names for the upscale men’s boutique he was planning to launch, he was seeking something with a twist—like how he writes his own name. “I suggested ‘Evolve’ and said we should take the V and put it in parentheses,” he says. “Then, Joan held up two fingers in a sideways V, and I was like yes, yes, yes!”

Over a decade later, Pitts is still shaking things up, bringing “SoHo to Somerville,” and while he’s at it, he’s making Evolve theplace to be for the world’s hottest designers. 

Pitts has used his visual, fashion and business acumen to create a store that is now known globally. The former DJ from Boston, who studied photography and the fashion business at Parsons School of Design in New York, launched his career in retail when he opened Sound Express music store in Somerville in the mid-1990s.

Yearning to return to fashion years later, Pitts began integrating clothing into the music store. “I saw a niche in Somerville,” he says. “New Jersey was not known for fashion and was always overshadowed by New York, but I thought, ‘Why not bring the city to the suburbs?’ And we evolved.” 

Pitts refers to himself as the “curator” of the prestigious brands Evolve carries. To get to that point, though, he paid his dues. “It was not always easy. It doesn’t matter how green your money is. Designers only want to be in stores with brands of their same level,” he says. “After years of climbing that ladder, top brands are now knocking on our door as much as we are chasing them.” 

He finds new brands through networking, fashion shows and listening to buzz. There is also a lot of strategy. For example, as he moved up the echelon, he increasingly carried more prestigious brands with an eye on eventually capturing the attention of California designer John Elliott. The cachet that Elliott brought to Evolve attracted other notable designers who are now vying for a spot on his shelves. “Carrying John Elliott opened a lot of doors for us,” Pitts says. 

Evolve also has its own brand of attire. Recently, it partnered with the hat company New Era to produce a Major League Baseball–approved series featuring the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and Oakland Athletics. And Pitts is proud to showcase the looks. “I wear everything in the store,” he says. “I am head-to-toe Evolve.”

Shut Down, Rev Up

Pitts has a strong relationship with Wix, the company that built his website platform. Whenever Wix had a new technology to test, Pitts always raised his hand to be the first to try it out. In early 2020, he offered to test a new point-of-sale technology that would allow him to sell online. Wix sent a team from Israel and the Ukraine to set it up. 

The timing was serendipitous. Pitt’s new website launched the day that nonessential retail stores were shut down in March. The self-proclaimed “brick-and-mortar guy” seamlessly shifted his marketing and social media outreach to the website, using the technology to process orders online and provide curbside pickup. Online sales exploded. “At that time, we were diving more into footwear,” he says. “Although much of the clothing production had been shut down, the footwear we preordered before the pandemic was coming in, and we started taking orders from people across the nation where stores were closed.” 

Wix noticed how Pitts was thriving during the shutdown due to the website and invited him to film a commercial as a testimonial to the technology. “The commercial went global,” Pitts says. “And now my Somerville store is selling to people worldwide.” 

Check out the latest styles at evolveclothinggallery.com.

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