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Is there a market for a high-end menswear shop in Washington, DC?

post #1 of 69
Thread Starter 

I'm looking at possible business venture and thought I'd hear from the forum. I lived in DC for 3+ years, and there's very little in the way of quality men's stores. It seems to be a town full of people who wear suits to work, but without anywhere to buy a good suit or other tailored clothing. On the other hand, it's known as a town where people dress badly and don't care that much.

 

What do people think? Could a well-done shop for men's tailored clothing do well in DC?

post #2 of 69

A million times yes, and if you are serious and are interested in potential partners or just people to kick ideas around with, I also live in DC and have thought about this for a while. Something like a B&M Kent Wang would kill it, imho.

post #3 of 69
Thread Starter 

Glad you like the idea. My thinking would be something along the 14th St Corridor.  I'm looking to do a mix of simple RTW as well as having MTO options from various makers.


Edited by joshuadowen - 1/14/13 at 6:43pm
post #4 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiCcolocV View Post
Something like a B&M Kent Wang would kill it, imho.

 

It would probably be a more traditional retailer than Kent Wang. I like the idea of a private label, but I'm not sure I've got the industry connections to get that moving from the get go.

post #5 of 69
Thread Starter 

After speaking with a number of friends in the industry, I've started putting together the beginnings of a plan. 

 

- Private label suiting/jacketing/shirting, a handful of RTW designs per season, limited MTM options available. 

- Stock accessories (ties/belts/bags/sweaters/socks/grooming/etc.) from quality American brands.

 

I think PiCcolocV's comment about a B&M Kent Wang (or Howard Yount) is actually spot on, except that I wouldn't be looking to do all of the accessories under a house label. I believe there's a niche in the market for something more modern than Brooks Brothers but a little more grown up than J.Crew.

 

Thoughts? Anyone?

post #6 of 69
As someone who lives 3 blocks from 14th street and does 90%+ of his shopping online/nyc, resounding yes
post #7 of 69
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jbresler View Post

As someone who lives 3 blocks from 14th street and does 90%+ of his shopping online/nyc, resounding yes

 

That's good to hear. That was my experience living in DC as well. If someone were to build your dream retail experience on the 14th corridor, what would you want?

post #8 of 69
I would appreciate having such a store in the area. I especially like the idea of having lots of quality private label items. Kent Wang is exactly the right reference point for what DC needs for men to be better dressed here - well curated and relatively affordable classic accessories. I don't know where I could go to get a staple $20-30 pocket square in this city.

I would point out that English-American Tailoring in relatively nearby Westminster, MD is very large factory that churns out high-quality fully-canvassed MTM suits. IMO they are badly in need of modernization and a way of tapping into the yuppie DC market, whether they know it or not. I have no idea if they would be interested in such a thing, but they would be an ideal partner for something like this because they are competent and local.
post #9 of 69
asking about it here is not a good idea. You need a much wider sample size. five i-gents does not a business make.
post #10 of 69
I think it would do well, with two caveats: (1) You need to differentiate your store from Saks/Neiman Marcus/Polo Ralph Lauren; and (2) 14th Street is not a good location for this type of business. I suggest Friendship Heights instead, where your competition is located.
post #11 of 69
The guys who run Hugh and Crye may have a some amount if insight. I'm sure you could get in touch with them somehow.
post #12 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by joshuadowen View Post

After speaking with a number of friends in the industry, I've started putting together the beginnings of a plan. 

 

- Private label suiting/jacketing/shirting, a handful of RTW designs per season, limited MTM options available. 

- Stock accessories (ties/belts/bags/sweaters/socks/grooming/etc.) from quality American brands.

 

I think PiCcolocV's comment about a B&M Kent Wang (or Howard Yount) is actually spot on, except that I wouldn't be looking to do all of the accessories under a house label. I believe there's a niche in the market for something more modern than Brooks Brothers but a little more grown up than J.Crew.

 

Thoughts? Anyone?

 

My list, in ROUGH priority, of what I would be looking for/whats important:

 

1. Beyond reproach customer service - Not pushy, believes the products sell themselves, is appreciative of your budget/price point and what you are trying to accomplish, available if needed but does not harass. Staff must have thorough knowledge of not only the products being sold, but mens style in general, with the emphasis on and passion for the above mentioned "well curated and relatively affordable classic" looks/outfits. Fair return policy (not necessarily Nordstrom level perhaps), no questions asked if any defects. Picture Spoo's persona, but in person (I am sure he is like that offline too, to be clear). 

 

2. Hit that magic price to quality ratio - to further the KW example, or other vendors on here like Luxire, I would not call the products they sell cheap by any means. $850 for a suit is still a decent chunk of change, online stores sell ties for $15 a pop elsewhere, staple brown captoes run for $350, etc. However, the quality and "stapleness" of the items are so high for their price that it is the single greatest reason why I would rather spend $75 on a single navy grenadine than get 5 ties from thetiebar.com. $850 suddenly becomes a fantastic deal when it is completely customizeable in every way, MTM, and fully canvassed, and knowing I could rely on the top notch customer service in the event the measurements/customization gets botched. I would guess that the target demographic in terms of age these price points would appeal to start in the upper 20's versus people just out of college or just starting their career. The great thing is the age ceiling can extend fairly high, because the entire point is not to be trendy but "classic" in the offerings. 

 

3. Don't offer too much, but don't offer too little - when I go into the store, I should feel like I could only shop from this one store and still have everything I need to fully stock my wardrobe. On the flip side, this needs to remain boutiquey enough where I don't feel overwhelmed and get that "where do I even start" in the off chance an associate is not immediately available. Keep the layout organized and intuitive. 

post #13 of 69
If you are initially thinking 14th St., I see the market you are targeting as slightly younger - people who might shop at Suit Supply or these new online-oriented companies that are marketing deals on Living Social, Gilt City (Alton Lane, et al.). People who are still forming their shopping habits and wouldn't otherwise get exposed to quality, SF-approved items.

I think Dupont Circle would be the most promising neighborhood as it is accessible to people who live far up in NW, Georgetown, Adams Morgan, Logan Circle, U Street, parts of Arlington, etc. Even people who don't live nearby are probably at least pass by one of the Farragut Square stations from time to time and would then be within walking distance.

Personally I would probably never go to a store in Friendship Heights (and nor would my friends) and I suspect many people who live up that way are going to remain attached to high-end department stores and known brands.
post #14 of 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by PiCcolocV View Post

My list, in ROUGH priority, of what I would be looking for/whats important:

1. Beyond reproach customer service - Not pushy, believes the products sell themselves, is appreciative of your budget/price point and what you are trying to accomplish, available if needed but does not harass. Staff must have thorough knowledge of not only the products being sold, but mens style in general, with the emphasis on and passion for the above mentioned "well curated and relatively affordable classic" looks/outfits. Fair return policy (not necessarily Nordstrom level perhaps), no questions asked if any defects. Picture Spoo's persona, but in person (I am sure he is like that offline too, to be clear). 


2. Hit that magic price to quality ratio
- to further the KW example, or other vendors on here like Luxire, I would not call the products they sell cheap by any means. $850 for a suit is still a decent chunk of change, online stores sell ties for $15 a pop elsewhere, staple brown captoes run for $350, etc. However, the quality and "stapleness" of the items are so high for their price that it is the single greatest reason why I would rather spend $75 on a single navy grenadine than get 5 ties from thetiebar.com. $850 suddenly becomes a fantastic deal when it is completely customizeable in every way, MTM, and fully canvassed, and knowing I could rely on the top notch customer service in the event the measurements/customization gets botched. I would guess that the target demographic in terms of age these price points would appeal to start in the upper 20's versus people just out of college or just starting their career. The great thing is the age ceiling can extend fairly high, because the entire point is not to be trendy but "classic" in the offerings. 


3. Don't offer too much, but don't offer too little - when I go into the store, I should feel like I could only shop from this one store and still have everything I need to fully stock my wardrobe. On the flip side, this needs to remain boutiquey enough where I don't feel overwhelmed and get that "where do I even start" in the off chance an associate is not immediately available. Keep the layout organized and intuitive. 

I agree with all of this.
post #15 of 69

I am clearly biased having grown up and still living in NOVA, but Friendship Heights to me is too far away to draw the critical Orange line yuppies you will want to bring in. 

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