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Zamb

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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.
Indeed, we opened a physical store and if it weren't a situation where we lucked into the space I would not have done itt.
however nothing gives me more joy than having people come in, engaging them in person and having them experience stuff firsthand.
I don't know about the cheap basics model, there are so many stores doing cheap basics and so many brands at a certain point I wonder if its a losing proposition

I like what @Epaulet is doing where they engage the customer, give good deals and often times do pre orders or things that give a good sell through on a product so there isn't so much stock that doesn't move.

I don't now man, from designer to retail this business is no cake walk and sometimes the thing you think will bring you success can be your demise...……….

A could see a store thinking that introducing and carrying overseas brands that are not heavily distributed state wide can give them a leg up, but sometimes that doesn't work...….

See even the great Barneys is in Big trouble and you'd think they'd be able to figure it out.
Its a jungle out there man...…...
 

clee1982

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UM/ContextClothing/CarlsonStreetClothierall evolved and mostly died, some moves a lot further out, but don’t think they would survive if they sold the same thing either. Who would buy basic from UM anyway, there are specific brand for basics, or if you want it cheap then even more choice.
 

M635Guy

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Indeed, we opened a physical store and if it weren't a situation where we lucked into the space I would not have done itt.
however nothing gives me more joy than having people come in, engaging them in person and having them experience stuff firsthand.
I don't know about the cheap basics model, there are so many stores doing cheap basics and so many brands at a certain point I wonder if its a losing proposition

I like what @Epaulet is doing where they engage the customer, give good deals and often times do pre orders or things that give a good sell through on a product so there isn't so much stock that doesn't move.

I don't now man, from designer to retail this business is no cake walk and sometimes the thing you think will bring you success can be your demise...……….

A could see a store thinking that introducing and carrying overseas brands that are not heavily distributed state wide can give them a leg up, but sometimes that doesn't work...….

See even the great Barneys is in Big trouble and you'd think they'd be able to figure it out.
Its a jungle out there man...…...
I feel like the Hyped phenomenon has disconnected things a lot - a lot of design follows the stuff that's hyped, but it seems like there's less enduring personality/character. Everyone's chasing. I think what draws me to Mike and Epaulet is he's focused on the character and feel of the materials, and looking for things that have impact. Everything has a story, and none of it is boring. I'm not shouty with what I wear, but I like that anyone paying attention is going to see texture and materials you don't find easily. There are other brands/makers like that out there, but it doesn't seem like they're getting the shine on social media/etc.
 

Epaulet

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Looks very purty, but quite similar to the “Pine” color I got last year. I’m a sucker for dark green anything, but is this shade as similar as I think?
@peppercorn78 this is definitely a darker and more green shade... the Pine had a more intensive wash and a slight bluecast. But if you already own Pine, then this is probably too much of a duplicate.

Maybe copper hardware or something lighter for the jean? Shirts looks cool though. Seems like washes are pretty big this season.
@L.I.T. yeah, definitely seeing a lot out there. I think that we'll go forward with a shirt. Seems like dudes really hate the jean, so I'm going to shelve that idea.

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
Well said, especially point number 3. You just have to expect that the model is constantly changing and evolving.

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.
@Teger agreed with all of those points. Trying to expand with B&M as a self-funded small business is a huge risk, and an enormous financial hit when it doesn't work out. I'd hate to tell you how much I wasted doing the Santa Monica store and wriggling out of our Manhattan lease. Had I invented those funds in product manufacturing and advertising rather than lining the pockets of landlords and real estate lawyers, it would make a huge difference today. There's just no margin for error, and nothing is guaranteed with physical storefronts these days.

Need Supply is an apt comparison but I bet that their womens business exceeds their mens business. The mens buying at Unionmade was amazing, but their womens buys were kind of atrocious - at least from what I've seen. It's a classic mistake when good mens buyers try to look for the same logical selling proposals and styling in womenswear. It just doesn't work. I made quite a few errors along these lines myself, but I never tried to open a women's store or do some huge multi-brand buys.

Indeed, we opened a physical store and if it weren't a situation where we lucked into the space I would not have done itt.
however nothing gives me more joy than having people come in, engaging them in person and having them experience stuff firsthand.
I don't know about the cheap basics model, there are so many stores doing cheap basics and so many brands at a certain point I wonder if its a losing proposition

I like what @Epaulet is doing where they engage the customer, give good deals and often times do pre orders or things that give a good sell through on a product so there isn't so much stock that doesn't move.

I don't now man, from designer to retail this business is no cake walk and sometimes the thing you think will bring you success can be your demise...……….

A could see a store thinking that introducing and carrying overseas brands that are not heavily distributed state wide can give them a leg up, but sometimes that doesn't work...….

See even the great Barneys is in Big trouble and you'd think they'd be able to figure it out.
Its a jungle out there man...…...
@Zamb great points, and you're right... in another narrative all of those exclusive brands could have made them more desirable. Perhaps scale was the problem. Retailers like Self Edge can do a great job with exclusive foreign product, but their footprint and overhead was tiny compared to Unionmade. If you can be an owner operator and work with a handful of employees, then you can make most things work. Once you try to scale up and you've got intensive staff and physical costs.. then you really better be managing inventory and generating sellthrough.

UM/ContextClothing/CarlsonStreetClothierall evolved and mostly died, some moves a lot further out, but don’t think they would survive if they sold the same thing either. Who would buy basic from UM anyway, there are specific brand for basics, or if you want it cheap then even more choice.
Context seems to still be around, they have a pretty nice looking site too. Did something change with them?

Oh yeah Carson Street was a sad story. Huge changing year over year and a quick flame out of the whole operation.

I feel like the Hyped phenomenon has disconnected things a lot - a lot of design follows the stuff that's hyped, but it seems like there's less enduring personality/character. Everyone's chasing. I think what draws me to Mike and Epaulet is he's focused on the character and feel of the materials, and looking for things that have impact. Everything has a story, and none of it is boring. I'm not shouty with what I wear, but I like that anyone paying attention is going to see texture and materials you don't find easily. There are other brands/makers like that out there, but it doesn't seem like they're getting the shine on social media/etc.
@M635Guy thanks for the kind words, and I agree... expertise and personality go a long way in this business. And if you're not going to be an exceptionally slick and next level business, then you need to offer a personal connection so that people want to know you and shop with you.
 

Zamb

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@Zamb great points, and you're right... in another narrative all of those exclusive brands could have made them more desirable. Perhaps scale was the problem. Retailers like Self Edge can do a great job with exclusive foreign product, but their footprint and overhead was tiny compared to Unionmade. If you can be an owner operator and work with a handful of employees, then you can make most things work. Once you try to scale up and you've got intensive staff and physical costs.. then you really better be managing inventory and generating sellthrough.
At the height of my business in 2013 -2015 we had 13 employees 9 of which were full time. we sold to about 17 doors across the globe and everything seemed great. at that time I was running a business with absolutely ZERO debt.
A Slew of things happened
first a family problem that affected my work
then missing a season in Paris and losing some accounts
then sales online slowed...…...I kept the employees working, I was loyal to them. then the Cash ran out, we had good credit so to keep them working for the first time we borrowed money...……….I figured things would turn around we would grow again and pay the money back, the last thing I wanted was to lose skilled workers many of which I trained for years to produce the kind of clothing we did.
When online sales slowed we started doing deeper sales, and suddenly the cash was not coming fast enough to cover everything.
then our lease at Industry City was up and the Landlords wanted triple what we were paying. We couldn't and didn't want to do that, and so we moved...………..to a terrible location.
We could have easily folded, I had to send people home.
the one trump card I had was that I always had an idea to solve a problem, and for the FIRST TIME, I had none...….
I cried before my staff one day, and sent people home. But...……………..good ole Z is one of the most resilient, so I decided I was going to take the long road out of hell.

now we have 5 employees and I am more at peace, more happier. I have a MUCH bigger space, with a long lease and cheap rent. My friends and I took this shabby old space and built it to where it is now, nice store, almost 700 sq/ft and factory space of 1600 sq/ft
Customers are coming locally, especially WOMEN, so we are taking care of them, Online business is returning to good health, and most importantly we are almost debt free again...…….
All in all, adaptability is key, read, research and react.
I also think brands and stores should work together for the good of all. Its not easy but working together makes it more easier and a more enjoyable journey.

Sorry for the long post in your thread @Epaulet but I think sometimes people miss how a simple thing, even one that seemed good, if not managed well can put a business in a tailspin.
 
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utopiaburger

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Hi @Epaulet - wondering if you’re going to have an Individualized promo soon (I think you used to do 15% off a few times a year?). I’ve been holding off on ordering but if there isn’t one coming then I might as well place the order now. Thanks!
 

Epaulet

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Hi @Epaulet - wondering if you’re going to have an Individualized promo soon (I think you used to do 15% off a few times a year?). I’ve been holding off on ordering but if there isn’t one coming then I might as well place the order now. Thanks!
YES we definitely are! I'm going to overhaul the whole assortment and relaunch it tomorrow. There's a bunch of new fabrics and options, and hopefully the ordering system will be easier too. We'll offer 15% off everything and still honor one shirt free when you buy four at - even with the 15% off.
 

Epaulet

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Did the doyle15 code expire? I had an Indigo Sashiko and Spruce Sashiko in the cart and it was working for both. Was thinking one for me and one for my pops who turns 70 in a couple weeks. Maybe will be just for him :)
Oh thanks for thinking of us... that’s a great gift! Actually code spruce15 should work for the indigo one too
 

Epaulet

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At the height of my business in 2013 -2015 we had 13 employees 9 of which were full time. we sold to about 17 doors across the globe and everything seemed great. at that time I was running a business with absolutely ZERO debt.
A Slew of things happened
first a family problem that affected my work
then missing a season in Paris and losing some accounts
then sales online slowed...…...I kept the employees working, I was loyal to them. then the Cash ran out, we had good credit so to keep them working for the first time we borrowed money...……….I figured things would turn around we would grow again and pay the money back, the last thing I wanted was to lose skilled workers many of which I trained for years to produce the kind of clothing we did.
When online sales slowed we started doing deeper sales, and suddenly the cash was not coming fast enough to cover everything.
then our lease at Industry City was up and the Landlords wanted triple what we were paying. We couldn't and didn't want to do that, and so we moved...………..to a terrible location.
We could have easily folded, I had to send people home.
the one trump card I had was that I always had an idea to solve a problem, and for the FIRST TIME, I had none...….
I cried before my staff one day, and sent people home. But...……………..good ole Z is one of the most resilient, so I decided I was going to take the long road out of hell.

now we have 5 employees and I am more at peace, more happier. I have a MUCH bigger space, with a long lease and cheap rent. My friends and I took this shabby old space and built it to where it is now, nice store, almost 700 sq/ft and factory space of 1600 sq/ft
Customers are coming locally, especially WOMEN, so we are taking care of them, Online business is returning to good health, and most importantly we are almost debt free again...…….
All in all, adaptability is key, read, research and react.
I also think brands and stores should work together for the good of all. Its not easy but working together makes it more easier and a more enjoyable journey.

Sorry for the long post in your thread @Epaulet but I think sometimes people miss how a simple thing, even one that seemed good, if not managed well can put a business in a tailspin.
@Zamb amazing post man, thank you so much for sharing. I know all about this -- our industry definitely has its ups and downs, and we're forever grateful to the customers who stick with us!
 

Epaulet

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Hisashi Contest.jpg

CHAINSTITCH SHIRT HISASHI INDIGO SELVEDGE CHAMBRAY PROJECT: $140 with code hisashi20

Thanks for your preorders everyone! This gorgeous fabric is going to make the most exceptional chambray shirt that we've ever offered. This cloth is so good that it needs to be celebrated after delivery. As such, we're going to hold a fit contest for everyone who preorders their shirt. It will work as such:

1) Preorder your Hisashi Chambray by tonight. If you're unsure of your size, write "Hold for confirmation" and we'll work with you to determine the best fit.

2) You'll receive your beautiful new shirt in about a month.

3) After everyone has the shirt in hand, we'll accept fit pics for seven days. You can submit as many as you like. The winning pic will earn its creator a bespoke, made-to-order Doyle jacket in Japanese denim, with their choice of thread color and monogram.

Pricing is $175 and you can save 20% with the code: hisashi20

The shirts will finish and ship by mid-September. They are not final sale, so you may exchange or return them after receipt. Only preorders will be eligible for the contest.
 

jischwar

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View attachment 1224647
CHAINSTITCH SHIRT HISASHI INDIGO SELVEDGE CHAMBRAY PROJECT: $140 with code hisashi20

Thanks for your preorders everyone! This gorgeous fabric is going to make the most exceptional chambray shirt that we've ever offered. This cloth is so good that it needs to be celebrated after delivery. As such, we're going to hold a fit contest for everyone who preorders their shirt. It will work as such:

1) Preorder your Hisashi Chambray by tonight. If you're unsure of your size, write "Hold for confirmation" and we'll work with you to determine the best fit.

2) You'll receive your beautiful new shirt in about a month.

3) After everyone has the shirt in hand, we'll accept fit pics for seven days. You can submit as many as you like. The winning pic will earn its creator a bespoke, made-to-order Doyle jacket in Japanese denim, with their choice of thread color and monogram.

Pricing is $175 and you can save 20% with the code: hisashi20

The shirts will finish and ship by mid-September. They are not final sale, so you may exchange or return them after receipt. Only preorders will be eligible for the contest.
Mike - how does the color and weight of this chambray compare to the Japanese pima luxe chambray? Is the model pic the actual shirt? Thanks!
 

Epaulet

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Mike - how does the color and weight of this chambray compare to the Japanese pima luxe chambray? Is the model pic the actual shirt? Thanks!
It’s a bit thicker, it’s a more distinct blue, and it has more tonality and variation. The final product will have those cool selvedge details too.

The model pic is a past denim shirt that we ran, just to show in general how it’s going to look. Hisashi Chambray is going to make up way better IMHO

Just heads up to everyone, I’m going to the factory to finish this cutting ticket about 1pm PST. I’ll take the item offline then. They’ll probably be about 10 units of open stock in a month, but if you preorder, you get the cheaper price (140 vs 175) and you can compete in the fit contest for a custom denim Doyle.

Also, there definitely won’t be any stock made in S or XXL. Possibly not Meduim either. So definitely place a preorder if you want one of these shirts and you’re one of those three sizes.
 
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CharlieAngel

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This is like some "true stories from the fashion retail industry" right here. Love it.
 

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