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Stanley is becoming an accessories brand

Stanley used to be considered a company for the average working Joe. But as the Stanley water tumbler exploded in popularity over the past few years, it is now expanding into trendier accessories. 

People lined up hours in advance to get their hands on limited-edition colors that Stanley has released in collaboration with retail partners like Target and Starbucks, while videos of women decorating their Stanley cups have taken over TikTok, where there are more than 82,000 posts that use #StanleyTumbler. According to CNBC, Stanley brought in $73 million in sales in 2019. Last year, the company was projected to do $750 million in sales, underscoring how the brand’s popularity has skyrocketed.

By virtue of the fact that its water bottles are now a status symbol, Stanley has become an accessories brand. But now, Stanley is more heavily embracing this with the launch of bags, which the brand unveiled in mid-April and garnered a waitlist of roughly 50,000 people within its first week and a half on the market.

In an interview with Modern Retail, Stanley president Matt Navarro said the brand was still “exploring what future product launches could look like” for its new line of bags. But, he said that in recent years, Stanley’s growth has resulted in a younger, more diverse customer base that “has a great appreciation for style, design and color.” In turn, Stanley is looking to design more products with that customer in mind. 

“Today’s consumer [goes] keys, phone, wallet, Stanley when they are leaving their house,” Navarro said. “We’re super, super proud of that. And the challenge that creates for us is: How do we really continue to bring products to consumers that they love and recognize, while still being innovative and fresh and keeping things new?”

Stanley, founded in 1913, got its start selling durable products that blue-collar workers could take with them on the job. This included not only water bottles but also stainless steel lunch boxes. But the new line of bags — called the All-Day Collection — is Stanley’s first foray into soft goods. 

The line currently consists of three items, including a mini cooler and a backpack cooler. Coolers and water bottles go hand in hand, and many of Stanley’s competitors, like Simple Modern and Hydro Flask, have similar products. Yeti took the opposite trajectory, launching with coolers first before getting into water bottles and similar products.

The other new item in the All-Day Collection is the Quencher Carry-All, which speaks to just how big of a fashion statement Stanley water bottles have become. Made to fit Stanley’s 40-ounce Quencher, the Carry-All is designed for someone to sling their Stanely over their hip, rather than stuffing it away discretely in a tote bag or cooler. There are also pouches for someone to store their wallet, phone and keys. 

“With our Quencher being very viral over the last three or four years and just creating such a buzz on social media and with consumers, it’s really an opportunity for us to bring a really cool chic, functional accessory to the forefront,” Navarro said. 

The Carry-All also incorporates some of the upgrades shoppers were already making to their Stanley Quenchers; numerous TikTok posts have detailed how Stanley water bottle owners have accessorized their water bottles. These include silicon snack trays that people can slip over the lid of a Stanley Quencher, straw toppers, charms and mesh bags that people attach to their Stanley to store their wallets or phones. Some of these accessories are included in round-ups of “Amazon Stanley must-haves.”

Zoe Scaman, founder of the strategy studio Bodacious, noted on social media that Temu is filled with listings for water bottle carriers. In an interview with Modern Retail, Scaman said she sees the line of bags as a “smart extension that’s not just playing into TikTok fads.”

“It would be really cheap or really easy for [Stanley] to come out with charms, for example,” Scaman said. But bags seem to give Stanley “more grounding in people’s everyday habits,” she said. She added that she sees more room for Stanley to launch different variations of lid covers, to cater to people who only own “one or two Stanleys, but want to change it up as a fashion accessory.” Right now, Stanley does sell different lids on its website, but they come in a more limited assortment of colors. 

“There are only so many people who are going to buy 35 Stanley mugs,” Scaman said. 

Navarro, for his part, said that the brand is aware of how people are accessorizing their Stanley. But, he said the launch of bags was driven by a desire to “create an accessory that’s more intuitive while still maintaining our standards of quality and durability that consumers have come to expect from us.” 

He said that Stanley has been “really excited about the consumer response” to the All-Day Collection so far, noting that people have already begun posting unboxing videos on social media.

Navarro also seemed to hint at more launches and expansions on the horizon. “Obviously the transformation of the brand has really been rooted in color revolution in the hard goods space,” he said. “And I think you will see us stay true to that with core, seasonal and even special drops throughout the year in soft goods.”