Drinks with the Gustin Guys
Following up on Gustin Jeans and their project on Kickstarter I met Josh Gustin and business partner Stephen Powell on Wednesday. Josh was nursing a small batch bourbon while Stephen was enjoying a beer. These two likeable guys were quiet, happy and a bit numb…and, understandably so. That day Gustin Jeans had just become the second most successful men’s fashion project in Kickstarter history. “We have hardly slept for weeks. It has been so busy and exciting that we barely eat”, said Josh, who founded Gustin six years ago. “And, we also have our day jobs to do,’ added Stephen with a smile. ( You can read about their Kickstarter project at http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/weargustin/gustin-redefining-premium-menswear-starting-with-d
Josh and Stephen combined their skills six months ago to re-launch the Gustin jeans brand. After several frustrating years of traditional retail distribution, Josh decided he needed to find a new approach to reach his customers. The plan was to go direct, be efficient and pass the savings along to the consumer. The two believe that people are willing to pre-order quality, USA made jeans in exchange for a significant savings. They have begun by using Kickstarter and then plan to go direct to consumers through their own website.
It has been nothing short of a wild ride since day one of the Kickstarter launch. Numerous blogs, including Esquire.com, abitofcolor.tumblr.com and others picked up on the story of “Made in San Francisco, $205 jeans for $81” and supporters began signing up. There have been articles, radio interviews and numerous offers from venture capital groups seeking new platforms into fashion. As of Saturday, Gustin had 3,469 backers who pledged $358,350 and there are still 5 days to go.
To keep the momentum going and because of growing demand Justin and Stephen hopped in their car, drove to Los Angeles and spent the day combing over rare and unusual denim. Their goal was to bring back distinctive fabrics to offer variations on their “Regular” which is made of US Cone Mills denim. Josh reached into his messenger bag to show me samples. With a smile he said, “This is what it is all about….to work with incredible denim”.
In the last few weeks Gustin has also offered, in addition to their regular Cone Mills denim, very limited runs of Japanese raw dark indigo, black, white line selvedge, a slub textured denim, charcoal, 18oz Japanese heavy, a natural indigo, and many more. Although most of these are now sold out, but be sure and follow their web site for announcements of new releases. They have plenty more special release denim to come.
Recently on fashion and denim forums a number of people have asked about returns if someone wants a different size. When I posed this question to Stephen he said,” We’re not going to officially allow returns. Kickstarter makes that impossible, but we’ll do our best to facilitate swapping of sizes if there’s an issue. After Kickstarter we’ll absolutely allow this. We want people to be happy and to become return customers.”
Gustin is, without question a remarkable Kickstarter success story. Thousands have enthusiastically embraced the project by signing up. Will consumers continue to pre-order and pre-pay for quality denim in exchange for a significant discount? They have for discounts on hotels, airfare and other services, so why not jeans? And, Gustin is ready.