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Mahatma Jawndi
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Starting in 2009, Unionmade would have begun with this crowd, and we did in many ways too. But it's a common mistake to primarily lead your customers rather than listen to them. And I've done this lots of times. While they were pushing these edgier Japanese designs, it's very possible that they were losing customers to cheaper direct to consumer retailers and more mainstream trends. Would things have played out differently if there was an in-house MiUSA Unionmade line with like $135 jeans and other basics?

Do you think a successful, mid-sized business is possible anymore with those kinds of basics? Meaning, across a broad range of products and not just UnTuckIt shirts? I feel like online comparison shopping and fast fashion have made it very difficult to size up a company with those kinds of goods.
 

b-ill

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@b-ill oh no.. we don't have any Sienna on the horizon at all. Definitely consider the Spruce, it's a beautiful tone and goes with really everything except olive pants. Looks perfect with grey, navy, khaki, denim, etc. I think that these green tone sashiko Doyles are some of the best pieces we've ever made.
Done
 

Epaulet

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Do you think a successful, mid-sized business is possible anymore with those kinds of basics? Meaning, across a broad range of products and not just UnTuckIt shirts? I feel like online comparison shopping and fast fashion have made it very difficult to size up a company with those kinds of goods.
Definitely. Check out Buck Mason. That's all that they do, and they started from a single little shop in Venice.
 

Michigan Planner

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Re: Unionmade

When I got the emails with the 30% and then 50% off of everything sale promos, I too assumed they were closing their doors and if that's true, I'll definitely be sad. I credit Unionmade with getting me into this sill menswear/style fascination about a decade ago when I turned to them for my very first pair of Alden.

At the time, the workwear aesthetic was in full swing, there were some elements of it that I really appreciated, and Unionmade (and to a lesser extent a couple other stores like Need Supply and Context Clothing) filled a lot of that for me. Over the first few years of my Styleforum journey I may have spent $$$$$ at these retailers for some Alden, LVC, Tricker's, Filson, Barbour, Gitman, RRL, etc. However, those products were all top notch and many of them are still going strong in my rotation a decade later so a) I'm not buying as much anymore and b) Unionmade's style had largely evolved while mine has stayed basically the same.

I never got a chance to visit one of Unionmade's physical locations but I would see their offerings on their website and had to marvel over the past few years how they really seemed to expand their offerings with no real sense of natural cohesion from season to season. They seemed to usually have a good selection of the basics from Alden and Levis but one season might see every possible pattern of shirt Gitman offers while the next would be a bunch of Japanese streetwear things that were definitely not in my wheelhouse. Over the past 4 or 5 years, besides a few pair of Alden, I don't think I bought anything from them at regular price but I would still always check in at their end of season sales but even I knew that was no way way to run a business.
 

jah786

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I hope Unionmade doesn't go under but it doesn't look good. I visited the store in the Mission in 2011 and bought my first pair of Alden's there (LWB 975 in color 8 shell). That store was stunning, it made a big impression on me. I shop the online site frequently and I'm always interested in their point of view. Even if I don't like everything, I still like to see what their buying team thinks is interesting. To me, UM is a valuable part of the American menswear retail ecosystem. It's like losing one of the bigger trees cooler looking trees in the forest. I can rattle off a couple of other independent stores in the US that i really love, where i see cool shit, but after that it gets tough (I'll name several from recent memory: Manready Mercantile in TX, Nepenthes in NYC, and Old North in Asheville, NC. I liked Mohawk General in LA a lot as well. I'm specifically naming stores that have a mix of at least 10+ brands. There are plenty of cool stores selling most their own brand, Noah, FSC, Corridor, but to get a feel for merchandising across brands, that's become really hard. There are many more influential physical stores in Europe and Japan, but we can't seem to keep them around on our side of the pond.
 

M635Guy

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@M635Guy I'm with you, that original SF store was always beautiful and a great experience. Todd really knew how to design a space. Far better than I can, that's for sure
It was a cool space, and the staff was great the day I was in the Mission store. Really knew their stuff.
 

peppercorn78

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nycs10011

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2nd the copper hardware. I could see grabbing the shirt before the pants but the idea of a light wash jean is growing on me.
 

Zamb

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Do you think a successful, mid-sized business is possible anymore with those kinds of basics? Meaning, across a broad range of products and not just UnTuckIt shirts? I feel like online comparison shopping and fast fashion have made it very difficult to size up a company with those kinds of goods.
there is really no simple way of looking at this
everyone can speculate and give reasons as to why a store or brand fails and they all may be correct but everyone situation is unique.
I think a good multi label store needs several things in order to survive

1. a good mix of brands, both Local and international. (too much importation can be devastating ti a biz, see earlier iteration of Atelier NYC)
2. A good mix of Loyal existing customer + New incoming ones
3. Evolving with the times, not necessarily too quickly, or too slow either.

there may be other things, but my mind doesn't lend itself to them now. The reality is that in today's market its hard, and if you are slow to react it can lead to problems that cause one to close.
All in all American retail for both big and small retailers who are not into fast fashion is very challenging right now
 
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Teger

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i think they made some fairly obvious mistakes. expensive B&M locations and diving deep into super high end japanese brands with huge import markups and challenging pieces. it's tough to sell kapital in the US because the customer who wants to buy it also knows they can proxy it from Japan for 50% less extremely easily.

probably their closet comparison might be need supply, but need supply only has one, small B&M location, sells a huge amount of cheap womenswear online, and supports their more challenging buy with huge buys of inexpensive basics that sell well.

their website looked nice but lacked basic information like 'measurements' or comparisons between how various brads fit a la virtusize when you have many different brands with entirely different sizing schemes.
 

jah786

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there is really no simply way of looking at this
everyone can speculate and give reasons as to why a store or brand fails and they all may be correct but everyone situation is unique.
I think a good multi label store needs several things in order to survive

1. a good mix of brands, both Local and international. (too much importation can be devastating ti a biz, see earlier iteration of Atelier NYC)
2. A good mix of Loyal existing customer + New incoming ones
3. Evolving with he times, not necessarily too quickly, or too slow either.

there may be other things, but my mind doesn't lend itself to them now. the reality is that in today's market its hard, and if you are slow to react it can lead to problems that cause one to close.
All in all American retail for both big and small retailers who are no into fast fashion is very challenging right now
Agree with all of this. I also think that UM could have really built out a private label of basics that would have provided higher margin at lower prices similar to what Mr.P is for mr.porter. I feel like this brand extension model is pretty much essential for any multi-brand store now. Need is doing it as well with the NEED brand. I think point #3 is critical, evolve but not too fast nor too slow. You need to take some risks, offer some new things, but don't lose sight of stuff that works. It is easy to say and hard to do. as a brand owner myself i struggle with it, but getting it more right than wrong is the key.
 

jah786

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i think they made some fairly obvious mistakes. expensive B&M locations and diving deep into super high end japanese brands with huge import markups and challenging pieces. it's tough to sell kapital in the US because the customer who wants to buy it also knows they can proxy it from Japan for 50% less extremely easily.

probably their closet comparison might be need supply, but need supply only has one, small B&M location, sells a huge amount of cheap womenswear online, and supports their more challenging buy with huge buys of inexpensive basics that sell well.

their website looked nice but lacked basic information like 'measurements' or comparisons between how various brads fit a la virtusize when you have many different brands with entirely different sizing schemes.
Agree 100% on the measurement thing. They did not provide a lot of data. Mike does a lot to provide measurements and you can always post something on SF about fit. but UM was carrying a ton of brands with different fits, it's hard to know what will work and what won't.
 

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