Seizing the Men's Wear Moment, Startup Stantt Shakes Up Shirt Sizing

5/19/2015
There's no denying that men's wear is having a moment (and quite an extended one). According to NPD Group, sales growth of men's apparel in 2013 outpaced women's, and an IBISWorld report found that e-commerce sales of men's clothing from 2010 to 2015 far surpassed every other category that analysts reviewed (eg, electronics, alcohol, auto parts, pet supplies). Translation: more than ever, men are paying increasing attention to fashion and style.

Yet in the midst of this madness for men's wear, in the newfound enthusiasm for twee bowties and ironic suspenders and Instagram-ready pattern mixing genius, there's still plenty of room for a couple of outsiders with a new idea to step in and disrupt The Way Things Have Always Been Done.

Enter Kirk Keel and Matt Hornbuckle, co-founders of Stantt, a new brand of casual dress shirts that Kickstarted its way to success by crushing its funding goal in lighting-fast time: 200 percent funded in just 24 hours. Clearly, the brand's mission resonated with supporters. And that mission is to end the long-standing idea of S/M/L sizing by delivering high-quality dress shirts in — wait for it — 75 sizes. Each named for a street in New York City.

And it's all possible because: data.

Keel and Hornbuckle, who both previously worked for Johnson & Johnson in brand management, decided that 3D body-scanning technology would offer the best insights into the range of body types and sizes out there, partnering with Lectra and leveraging its user-friendly platform. "We talked to every key supplier of 3D modeling and patternmaking and Lectra's system by far was the easiest to use and the most helpful in terms of output and data," says Hornbuckle.

Between physical and digital models, the pair fit 2,220 guys, informing the wide range of sizes now available on its Shopify-powered e-commerce site that has been up and running since December. Users simply enter their chest, waist and sleeve measurements and an algorithm calculates the ideal fit. Shipping and returns are free, of course.

Hornbuckle is quick to point out that the brand's website experience is just as important as perfecting the fit of each shirt. "Today's guy knows fit and style are really important but simplicity and ease are an important part of the shopping experience as well," he explains. Despite the initial first push via e-commerce, however, the duo has discovered that there's nothing like meeting potential customers face to face.

"We're seeing old-school retailing, like setting up pop-up shops, is so much more impactful," notes Hornbuckle. "We were in Chelsea Market recently, and having that one-on-one interaction with the consumer, and allowing him to actually try on the shirt and discover the amazing quality of our product is hundreds of times more effective compared with the online customer acquisitions methods we were trying."

The Chelsea pop-up was so successful that Stantt started another six-week run on April 27.

Although Stantt launched with a manufacturing partner in New York, the brand now sources production in Central America with a factory that can turn shirts around in less than one week, using 100 percent cotton fabric sourced in Europe. "This manufacturer empowers the 75-sizes methodology where our inventory levels are a fraction of what they are in the industry standard," Hornbuckle says.

Stantt plans to expand to as many as 125 sizes this year and is working on a new line of casual shirts that could launch as early as this month at a $78 price point. As for competitors, Hornbuckle sees the brand as being alone in the crowd.

"I see us as carving out a new space in apparel where we're giving guys the best of ready-to-wear, which is a fast and easy experience, but you get the fit like it's custom made," he concludes.


Editor's Note: Got an appetite for innovation? Click here to read about all of the apparel companies doing interesting and inspiring things.

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