Starting a New RTW Men's Tailoring Line

WeakMonday

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So I'm trying to decide what to offer initially for my tailored line. I'm thinking of starting with suits in navy blue and medium grey. For sportscoats I'm thinking of starting with something in a blue, and another in a green or olive green maybe with a check... I'm trying to think of colors for a third jacket... but I'm somewhat stumped. I was originally thinking brown... but it just feels like brown isn't as flexible of a sportscoat as people think. I was thinking maybe a herringbone grey or a light reddish brown... Any thoughts would be appreciated haha
 

Monkeyface

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So I'm trying to decide what to offer initially for my tailored line. I'm thinking of starting with suits in navy blue and medium grey. For sportscoats I'm thinking of starting with something in a blue, and another in a green or olive green maybe with a check... I'm trying to think of colors for a third jacket... but I'm somewhat stumped. I was originally thinking brown... but it just feels like brown isn't as flexible of a sportscoat as people think. I was thinking maybe a herringbone grey or a light reddish brown... Any thoughts would be appreciated haha
Unless you're selling blazer suits, I'd include a navy sportcoat. Dark brown is very versatile. You can wear it with grey and tan trousers, and even with jeans if ithe sportcoat is casual enough. A reddish brown won't look as good on many people. For a third sportcoat you could either get grey herringbone tweed patch pocket or forest green. Both are relatively versatile.

Who are you going to market to and where? Business people won't really wear brown or green for example
 

WeakMonday

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I'm thinking late 20s people to mid 30s... and market to them on the internet (also a local post-college Chinese market in the DC area). I guess I just haven't really found a brown fabric that I like (based on pictures).
 

Monkeyface

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I'm thinking late 20s people to mid 30s... and market to them on the internet (also a local post-college Chinese market in the DC area). I guess I just haven't really found a brown fabric that I like (based on pictures).
I think you're posting in the wrong thread btw. Seems like you need to define your target market a bit better. Have you ever started up a business before?
 

WeakMonday

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Yea you're right haha... I just posted in here because Chorn mentioned he wanted to help vendors target the igents out there. First time starting a business!
 

HenryC

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I'm thinking late 20s people to mid 30s... and market to them on the internet (also a local post-college Chinese market in the DC area). I guess I just haven't really found a brown fabric that I like (based on pictures).
You were just in naples last week right? Didn't you see go through all the books in person at the tailors you visited? Visit cacciapolli?
 

WeakMonday

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Yea... I didn't see a single brown I liked haha... but now that I think about it... I really like the brown I got for my tweed suit... that could probably work as a jacket
 

Monkeyface

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Yea you're right haha... I just posted in here because Chorn mentioned he wanted to help vendors target the igents out there. First time starting a business!
Have you made a business plan? Done some market research? Projected cash flows? Etc, etc.

Also your target market is both very narrow and not very related. Late 20s to mid 30s, so that's 27-35. That's a very small subsection. Chinese college grads is another very small subsection. Chinese college grads will also have less money than people who have been working for a while, so will you offer 2 lines at different costs? If so, can justify having 2 lines (sell enough?).

I'm sure HC can help you with the finer details of running a menswear business, if he wants to of course.
 

WeakMonday

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The Chinese grads I'm targeting probably will have the most money haha... They will be 24+ and have just graduated from Grad school in DC... I'm also thinking of targeting the Wedding MTM market as well (I am friends with a few wedding photographs)... I'm starting with my lowest line (about 1k-1.5) and then will slowly build up until I see the market for a middle tier and then a bespoke line.
 

HenryC

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Thats a high $ lowest line for RTW to be honest. Rambo may want to move this to a new thread because its a bit off track but anyway, the harsh truth is you need to be able to do this stuff for yourself, that's the honest answer. There's a big difference between starting a menswear company because you like menswear and being able to consistently curate a range to churn out a good product that people want to buy. Very few people have that ability.
 

Monkeyface

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Yeah, you do have to be able to do it for yourself. Let me give you a quick word of advice then. Take it or leave it.

It seems like you're running ahead of yourself. You should really be thinking more about the basics of your business before you start thinking about the finer details like suit colours. Make a business plan. Project your fixed and variable costs for the next five years, project your cash flows, calculate how much you need to sell for break even. You might just run a successful business without any kind of planning, but your chance of success will be much higher if you have a plan. You don't want it to become a money pit, no matter how much money you have. 60% of all startups fail within a year, and that number gets much higher when you're looking over 5 years. Moreover, the retail business is not an easy business at all, and requires quite a bit of cash upfront.

About your target market, the average person leaving b school makes less than 125k, and that's for the top 7. Grads in finance will make a bit more, but they've also just spent 200k on education, and it takes a whole year before they get that bonus, and bonuses are not very certain. Moreover, a lot of them don't stay in DC, or will move within a couple of years.

Even without that, just targeting rich Chinese people in DC with family money can be a very fickle business. They're a pretty mobile group, and China is cracking down hard on people being able to launder their money abroad.

Besides, 1.5k is a lot of money to spend on a suit. I know plenty of people that make many multiples of a b school grad and they still wouldn't spend that kind of money on a suit.

Look into the shop that Maomao from SF just started in Beijing. He's got a very defined style for the store and a very defined target market, which is much bigger in Beijing than yours will be in DC. He's also got a lot of money backing him, so he can afford a lot of loss making years without even making a dent in his capital. Not that he'll be running a loss making business, as wealthy people don't like losing money.
 

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Monkeyface's advice on having a business plan is very sound.

You need a plan and, when making that plan, you should think about a few things in particular.

First, are you going to have a brick-and-mortar shopfront, an actual, physical store? If you do, it's going to suck up a *lot* of money in the fit-out and in the rent. You're going to have to sell a lot of products to just cover those baseline costs before you start to make any money to re-invest, let alone pay yourself a salary.

Secondly, are you going to have a website? I assume so, as most people do. A good website, particularly a decent one set up for e-commerce, can cost a reasonable amount of money so it pays to try to defray that by doing some of the stuff yourself, such as photography. HenryC could talk about that with much, much more authority than I can.

Thirdly, marketing - how are you going to do it? It's all very well having some products and having a business, but unless people know about it, you're not going to sell anything. Some people are great at getting free marketing as they've developed a network of great contacts, others give away plenty of stuff and hope for referrals and publicity that way, yet others pay for advertising, and of course there's internet fora as well. Most people, of course, will use a mix of approaches and you have to sort out what you think will work best for you. You definitely need to do something, though, because otherwise you'll be sitting around twiddling your thumbs.

Next, what else are you going to stock? Just a few jackets and suits? What about accessories? Shirts, ties, socks and so on. Frankly, while you potentially stand to make more overall profit per item on a suit or jacket, I think that you'll make more profit as a percentage on shirts and accessories. When people come in for a jacket, won't they be looking for a shirt (or shirts) and a tie (or ties) to wear with it? You could probably make another 50% profit on getting people to buy some accessories along with their bigger purchases.

Finally, are you going to sell off-the-rack clothing and accessories, or are you going to offer only made-to-order clothing? If only MTO, then cloth is a non-issue because people placing orders will, of course, choose from cloth books used by the manufacturer (or cloth books for mills that you can order from and send the cloth to the manufacturer, if they're happy to do that). Of course, even if you're selling MTO clothing, it's very useful to have a range of clothing around so that people can try on items and see how they like particular cuts and basic sizes. MTO clothing is much cheaper to go with as a start-up option because you don't need a large inventory.

I hope that I don't sound patronising - the above are just some things to think about (and you may well have thought about them already) while working on your business.
 

fxh

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monday - monkey, JM and Henry have offered good advice.

Ask yourself some basic questions.
You never been in business before - why now?
What skills do you bring?
How much start up capital do you have?
How will you generate cash flow for first 2 years.
How will you eat, pay rent/mortgage etc
How much can you afford to lose?
Why clothing?
Why suits?
Why DC Asian post grad market?
Do you have rich parents or partner?
Do you really believe the rags to riches stories peddled in the media about business people?
Is there a market for what you are envisaging - a real quantified market?
How much supply chain experience do you have?
How much fitting experience do you have?

This all easy to answer - before you do any Business Plan at all.
 

Journeyman

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monday - monkey, JM and Henry have offered good advice.

Ask yourself some basic questions.
You never been in business before - why now?
What skills do you bring?
How much start up capital do you have?
How will you generate cash flow for first 2 years.
How will you eat, pay rent/mortgage etc
How much can you afford to lose?

Why clothing?
Why suits?
Why DC Asian post grad market?
Do you have rich parents or partner?
Do you really believe the rags to riches stories peddled in the media about business people?
Is there a market for what you are envisaging - a real quantified market?
How much supply chain experience do you have?
How much fitting experience do you have?

This all easy to answer - before you do any Business Plan at all.
The points that I've bolded above is why some people choose not to have a bricks-and-mortar shopfront and to instead operate out of home and do home/workplace visits to clients for measurements, as it saves a lot of money on rent and fit-out. Concentrating on doing outcalls for MTO services (sounds vaguely suggestive) could also potentially permit the provider to have another job, too, especially if they can find a main job that's fairly flexible so that they can combine the two commitments. That then permits the person to have an ongoing income stream from their main job while building up the MTO business on the side.
 

Monkeyface

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The points that I've bolded above is why some people choose not to have a bricks-and-mortar shopfront and to instead operate out of home and do home/workplace visits to clients for measurements, as it saves a lot of money on rent and fit-out. Concentrating on doing outcalls for MTO services (sounds vaguely suggestive) could also potentially permit the provider to have another job, too, especially if they can find a main job that's fairly flexible so that they can combine the two commitments. That then permits the person to have an ongoing income stream from their main job while building up the MTO business on the side.
I'm just wondering how someone who has never done MTM before is going to do a fitting. There are a lot of intricacies to tailoring, and just reading a couple of books isn't going to help terribly much until you actually do it yourself. You're going to make lots of mistakes in the beginning, which means it'll cost you a lot of money to rectify those mistakes by ordering new suits.
 

WeakMonday

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The points that I've bolded above is why some people choose not to have a bricks-and-mortar shopfront and to instead operate out of home and do home/workplace visits to clients for measurements, as it saves a lot of money on rent and fit-out. Concentrating on doing outcalls for MTO services (sounds vaguely suggestive) could also potentially permit the provider to have another job, too, especially if they can find a main job that's fairly flexible so that they can combine the two commitments. That then permits the person to have an ongoing income stream from their main job while building up the MTO business on the side.
This is a pretty good prediction of what I have in mind for now
 

WeakMonday

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I'm just wondering how someone who has never done MTM before is going to do a fitting. There are a lot of intricacies to tailoring, and just reading a couple of books isn't going to help terribly much until you actually do it yourself. You're going to make lots of mistakes in the beginning, which means it'll cost you a lot of money to rectify those mistakes by ordering new suits.
I will be using fitting jackets in premade sizes... If the fit is completely awful on the person being fitted I will contact the maker with pictures and see what they think before preceding
 

Monkeyface

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I will be using fitting jackets in premade sizes... If the fit is completely awful on the person being fitted I will contact the maker with pictures and see what they think before preceding
So just MTO, not MTM then?
 

WeakMonday

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Mto and mto with small adjustments that I feel comfortable doing... I'm not sure if that's mtm or just mto+ haha
 

Monkeyface

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Mto and mto with small adjustments that I feel comfortable doing... I'm not sure if that's mtm or just mto+ haha
So the customer will be able to pick their own fabric and details? Will it be handmade or machine made? Formosa MTM is $2000, and that is handmade. So $1500 MTO doesn't sound like a good value proposition.
 
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prince nez

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Wmonday - where do I sign up to invest in this enterprise? My last venture in magic beans didn't go so well so I need to double down on a sure fire winner before I have to own up to my family about what happened to their savings.
 

WeakMonday

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Yea they can pick fabric and details... it will be machine made with some handwork... I think Formosa at 2k doesn't include cloth...
 

WeakMonday

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Wmonday - where do I sign up to invest in this enterprise? My last venture in magic beans didn't go so well so I need to double down on a sure fire winner before I have to own up to my family about what happened to their savings.
Won't need any investors at this time... come up with your own venture :ahahahaha:
 

Monkeyface

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Yea they can pick fabric and details... it will be machine made with some handwork... I think Formosa at 2k doesn't include cloth...
It's 2500 including cloth, but there are several discounts that bring it back to around 2100. So at 1500 Eidos will be a competitor. They're readily available in the U.S. now, and people can walk into the store and pick one up without having to wait for delivery. I believe their MTM markup is 20%, so that's $1800. Not too far from your MTO.

Suitsupply MTM is around $1000 including cloth, and is machine made as well. That will be a very big competitor. Why would people choose your brand over Eidos or Suitsupply?
 

WeakMonday

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Yea... I will also be preparing similar discounts. Part of the reason why I have a rtw line will be so that customers can also pick one up without having to wait (except for shipping) and to figure out sizing and see if they like the fit.

As for why me over Eidos/Suit supply... I'm hoping to provide better fit with a more personalized friendly customer service. But if I can't convert customers... I will try to create new ones.
 

Monkeyface

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Yea... I will also be preparing similar discounts. Part of the reason why I have a rtw line will be so that customers can also pick one up without having to wait (except for shipping) and to figure out sizing and see if they like the fit.

As for why me over Eidos/Suit supply... I'm hoping to provide better fit with a more personalized friendly customer service. But if I can't convert customers... I will try to create new ones.
How will you create a better fit?

How will you provide personalised service when both Eidos and Suitsupply have stores?

Why wouldn't you be able to convert customers?
 

WeakMonday

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I think these kind of questions would have vague answers... so it would be best to just see with pictures once the stuff comes.

As for why I can't convert some customers... well some people believe there exist only three makers in this world... suit supply/eidos/formosa... might be better for me to just find new customers instead of battling over old ones:p
 

Monkeyface

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I think these kind of questions would have vague answers... so it would be best to just see with pictures once the stuff comes.

As for why I can't convert some customers... well some people believe there exist only three makers in this world... suit supply/eidos/formosa... might be better for me to just find new customers instead of battling over old ones:p
No, dude that's your problem! They don't have vague answers, you just haven't thought about it yet! That's why I'm asking them, to make you think....
 

doghouse

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As for why me over Eidos/Suit supply... I'm hoping to provide better fit with a more personalized friendly customer service.
So you have no tailoring experience and want to use stock patterns, but plan to offer better fit?

Intriguing.

:challengeconsidered:
 

Monkeyface

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Watching a tailor in Naples make your suit does not make you a tailor, or teach you anything about tailoring at all. Why don't you take a tailoring course first? It'll also give you some credentials.
 

Monkeyface

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Hey... I gotta start somewhere :)
And that somewhere should not be rushing into a business you know very little about. Once the business fails you can't really start over in the same area, as your reputation will be gone. Better to do it right the first time.
 

WeakMonday

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I guess we'll just have to wait and see... if anything it will create content for the trainwreck thread :)
 

ConchitaWurst

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No, dude that's your problem! They don't have vague answers, you just haven't thought about it yet! That's why I'm asking them, to make you think....
Yes! Take for isntance this quote of his competitor Antonio K Ciongoli

"Skateboarding, WWII, and Italian Tailoring Meet in Eidos Napoli's Fall 2015 Collection"
 

WeakMonday

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I'd like a suit that is inspired from the skateboarders of the WWII era with spalla camicia of course!
 

LKP

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Yes! Take for isntance this quote of his competitor Antonio K Ciongoli

"Skateboarding, WWII, and Italian Tailoring Meet in Eidos Napoli's Fall 2015 Collection"
Including the Italian war flag pocket square - featuring a white eagle on white ground
 

fxh

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Monday people here are trying to help you.
It's serious. I don't know about others but I have a lot of experience essential consulting to start ups, rescuing fuckups and winding up bankrupts. My questions aren't just something I thought up on the toilet. The answers shouldn't be vague.

Unless your family has big money. Like most successful rags to riches people.
 
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