Originally Posted by kmdsimpson
Ben, as a biased fan of your store, I think this a great idea. There is a real hole for the style you offer at this price point. To me, the key is going to be educating or finding people who want the classic Italian styling and fit that you offer.
When I look at what is out there, I see:
- Jos Bank: Very different style than you offer (boxy, traditional), but very low prices - I just saw an ad last weekend for buy 1 get 3 free suits! (Yes, 4 for the price of 1). You cannot compete with that price and volume, but you can on style.
- Brooks: Many more fits, but American, not European style. And very overpriced.
- J. Crew: The very narrow, modern, young look. I find it faddish, myself. But the point is it is different than your style.
- Men's Wearhouse: Not sure, as I have not been in one in ages, but I bet you can beat their quality.
- Various brands in department stores: Boss (I know they have various lines), Hilfiger, Calvin Klein, etc... I find these to be different than yours, as well, but I wonder how much a casual observer would notice.
- Store brands: Saks Off 5th is getting into self-branded suits in a big way. I don't like their styles and construction at all. But they clearly sell a lot and have compelling prices.
Actually, the closest brand I can think of in terms of quality construction and nice fit for a half-canvassed suit is Ralph Lauren (the ones sold in RL stores, not "Lauren" sold in department stores). But they charge $1,500 for their half-canvassed suit.
So to me, there is certainly a product niche there for you. The question I have is whether you can market against these guys and find enough people who appreciate the classic, tasteful European styling and fit you offer. There does seem to be a large audience here of people just starting their careers who are interested in dressing a certain way, but who cannot afford a $500 suit. Currently they are buying outlet finds or used from either here or on Ebay. I think all of them would flock to you.
I also think that you could get people hooked on your suits so that they "move up" to your fully canvassed suits as they progress financially. Just like the RL stepladder as mentioned before.
I hope there's a way for you to start out at a reasonable volume and give it a try. It will be exciting to see how it does.