For Average-Man Suit Buyers, Indochino's the Perfect Fit

If you need a suit for the wedding of your wife's best friend — which she's been reminding you to get for weeks — and the wedding is tomorrow, well, I'm afraid you're out of luck, my friend. Indochino is not for you, and unless you are near a 24-hour custom tailor in Hong Kong, you will likely have to settle for an off-the-rack number vs. a custom-made suit for the gala event.

But if you've got a few weeks to spare — about four — then Indochino just might be a perfect fit, no pun intended. CEO Kyle Vucko co-founded the Vancouver-based online custom men's wear company in 2007 to address a need he saw for made-to-measure suits for the average man — in other words, a stylish, well-fitting suit for less than $500.

Given the market it is targeting, the majority of Indochino customers are first-time custom-clothing buyers. "Indochino has made something available to them that wasn't available before," says Vucko. To date, the company has about 120,000 customers, about 90 percent in North America, with the balance spread out "pretty much across the globe," he says.

How does it work? Customers choose from an array of suiting fabrications and designs and then follow a unique 10-minute self-measurement process that can be done from the comfort of their own homes, and that doesn't require a tailor — just a tape measure and a "good friend," as the web site explains. "We really hold your hand," says Vucko, of the online videos that take you
through the process.

After Indochino receives the order, it converts those measurements into individual patterns via a proprietary algorithmic grading system. From these patterns, and the fabrics selected by Indochino's design team, suits are manufactured by factory partners in China. The suits are quality checked, packaged and shipped directly to the consumer from Shanghai, where Indochino maintains a second location.

By going directly to the factory and cutting out the middleman, and because it offers a custom-made and -ordered product that requires a fraction of the  inventory of a traditional apparel business, Indochino reduces its risk and increases its cash flow — and is able to pass its lower costs on to its customers, says Vucko. Surprise perk: the company provides $75 for alterations, should you need to take your suit to a local tailor for adjustment after it arrives. Indochino will also remake the suit for you, or provide a full refund.

As its business expanded, Indochino heard from some of its customers that they wanted to see and feel the fabrics in person and receive styling advice, so in 2011, Indochino added to its business with an offline "Traveling Tailor" retail pop-up store in Vancouver that offered guys an opportunity to touch the fabrics and work with an in-store style guide. The first event was "wildly successful," says Vucko, and so the company built a team around it and turned that first foray into five events in 2012, 12 events in 2013, and is looking to hit around 25 this year.

The pop-up store doesn't feel like one, says Vucko. Indochino builds out a fully functional store that has an "Apple-esque aesthetic" and is designed to suit the shopping habits of guys, focusing on convenience and personalization. The pop-up store travels to urban locations around North America, typically sticking around for a period of 10 days to one month.

Customers work with a style guide who is equipped with an iPod touch and custom app to complete the 14-point measurement system and build a custom suit. The app syncs directly with the Indochino back-end, creating a seamless transition from offline data capture and personalization to online production.

As for the future of Indochino, Vucko is excited about the opportunities that technology opens up. "We're still playing with the length [of time we stay in a city], size [of each store], how to best integrate mobile, online, offline. We're trying to figure out the optimum mix. I don't know where that will take us, but I know there are changes and evolutions ahead, and I'm looking forward to them," he concludes.

Editor's Note: Be sure to get the full report and read about all of our exceptional 2014 Top Innovators!
This ad will auto-close in 10 seconds