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

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by joshuadowen, Jan 14, 2013.

  1. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    certainly not, i was just saying that for people interested in fine mens tailoring, there are options. and for what he seems to be looking to accomplish, he should be certain there is a market that can support it.
     
  2. bourbonbasted

    bourbonbasted Senior member

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    Just giving you a hard time, stitch. An ex gf lived right down the street from Fields. That place is the absolute tits.
     
  3. in stitches

    in stitches Senior member Moderator

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    lol, all good. the place is awesome.

    i have had some tailoring done for me there, and his work is amazing. also, one of the nicest guys you will meet. every time i go there, i drool as i gaze at all the amazing rolls of fabric he has, and i see all the pieces he has on display that he has done, and the ones on the table he is working on. unreal.

    if i ever have the coin, he will be my tailor, no question.
     
  4. Joffrey

    Joffrey Senior member

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    These kinds of stores are never going to attract a ton of traffic. I don't think they even want a ton of traffic. Their clientele are politicians, lawyers, lobbyists and high level govt officials (appointees) that can drop over a grand on the periodic shopping trips they make.

    The OP should be very careful identifying the market he's aiming for. If he wants to stock a store with $800+ suits, $350 shoes, $75 ties he's going to have to aim for people making over $100K. No doubt many of them live on 14th street but I'd aim for a Georgetown/Downtown (Farragut Square area) location. If you're too lazy to venture from Nova into the city (even frienship heights) to shop at a store that supposedly carries many things you're interested in, I'm not sure you're worth pursuing as a client (also that's where online shopping, phone orders comes in).
     
  5. joshuadowen

    joshuadowen Senior member

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    I'm not thinking about doing a more fashion forward inventory, but I am trying to create an environment where younger guys will be comfortable buying classic tailored clothing. I'll have to go check out this new Fox&Co., but my gut is that the place itself just sort of feels like you've got to be 40 to shop there.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  6. joshuadowen

    joshuadowen Senior member

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    Thanks guys for all the great advice. There's a ton in here.
     
  7. pnin22

    pnin22 Senior member

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    Is it possible to manufacture stuff like this in US and still make a profit? Or are you going to source from other countries..
     
  8. Cuttingboard

    Cuttingboard Senior member

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    I would want a place similar to the Armoury. I assume you guys know that Streets in Georgetown went out of business?
     
  9. joshuadowen

    joshuadowen Senior member

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    That's one of the big questions. I've started looking into a couple of manufacturers, so we'll see. If at all possible I'd like to manufacture/source as much as possible from the US.
     
  10. comrade

    comrade Senior member

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    I lived in the DC Area decades ago, when suits were worn by a much larger segment
    of the population. At the time there were several well-established independent men's shops
    as well as BB and the luxury dept store Garfinckels. I wore a suit every day and sportcoats
    on weekends. I was never tempted to shop locally. The selection was limited and frankly
    provincial. New York was nearby where I shopped at Chipp, Paul Stuart, J. Press. and
    later Dunhill Tailors. There were no real equivalents in DC. My guess is that the proximity
    to New York limits the prospects of sophisticated high end men's stores.
     
  11. joshuadowen

    joshuadowen Senior member

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    It seems like the two biggest pieces of feedback have been:
    i) identifying exactly the right market
    ii) distinguishing from the competition

    My current job is actually in strategic planning for one of the major ad agencies, so I've got some experience with both these things. Obviously I wouldn't be trying to go to market without having done significant thinking on both these issues. One of the reasons I started this thread was to get a conversation going to help me think through these sorts of things. In other words, I don't have the answers yet, so I thank you guys for pushing me and helping me toward finding them.

    My current thoughts on target audience are men, 25-45, working professional jobs that require them to wear suit/jackets/shirts/ties on a regular basis, if not daily. He enjoys wearing the uniform, but has just enough of a dandy streak to want distinguish himself in some small way. He appreciates classics, but doesn't want feel like an old guy. Does this represent some gaping hole in the existing market? No. But I think that's okay. Distinguishing oneself too much from an existing market leaves one with a very small target.

    I think the bigger way to distinguish from the competition is through user-experience. One of the major trends in men's clothing retail over the past few years has been an increase in customer-service/user-experience aspects. Fields may be a great tailor, but it is inaccessibly expensive for most people. On the other hand, walking into a mass retailer looking to buy a suit is a pretty horrible experience. I think that Cuttingboard's mention of The Armoury is a helpful comparison. One of the things they've done really well is make a very good user-experience.

    The other thing The Armoury has done very well is what LAGuy talks about as 2013 Marketing Strategies. A strong social media presence allows you to build a reputation well outside your immediate customer base. The idea of having shallow, constantly rotating inventory gives you material to constantly be posting on social media, engaging with the community, and getting people in the store more often. Fox&Co. may have a great selection of classic menswear, but they are selling/marketing in an outdated way. The niche may be in applying contemporary marketing and retail techniques to selling classic menswear. This is what the Armoury has done well, that very few other brick & mortar stores have.
     
  12. joshuadowen

    joshuadowen Senior member

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    Thanks for this recommendation. I'd reached out to a couple of other American manufacturers, but hadn't found these guys. I've just sent a note their way so we'll see if they are interested. Having a partner that close would be really great.
     
  13. joshuadowen

    joshuadowen Senior member

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    Your points are well taken, but it's worth noting that DC has changed a lot in the last few decades. You don't think that if there were a sophisticated men's store in DC, some of those people who go to NY to shop would give it a try?
     
  14. prozach1576

    prozach1576 Senior member

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    There are tons of young professionals in DC who make good money, have very few ties to New York, and are paying sticker or near-sticker for suits from J. Crew and Brooks Brothers. I think if branded correctly a store selling much nicer goods at only a bit higher of a price point would find a nice market.
     
  15. joshuadowen

    joshuadowen Senior member

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    That's exactly my hope. I'm glad you agree.
     
  16. asnexprss

    asnexprss Well-Known Member

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    Am living in DC now and I would love to see an Armoury-type store here in DC. It's been so long since I've shopped in a brick and mortar store here . . . most of my shopping is done online nowadays.
     
  17. comrade

    comrade Senior member

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  18. Joffrey

    Joffrey Senior member

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    One last thought, don't be over ambitious. Don't be afraid to have small, highly edited location. I think the editing part might be key. Location to of course. Gtown may be weird since it's basically an outdoor mall. I'd think Farragut, even Metro Center/Penn Quarter areas might be better. Anyway, good luck, whatever you do make sure you have an online shopping function so you can generate sales from outside town.
     
  19. shadesofbeige

    shadesofbeige Senior member

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    Just out of curiosity, which labels are you thinking of carrying? If I have a recommendation, it would be to not forget about casual clothing. Get some USA-made oxfords (Gitman Vintage are great and a fair price point) and some selvage denim (APC is a good starting point). Younger (collegiate aged) guys can get their feet wet buying this stuff, and if the experience is good enough, they'll come back when it's time to suit up.
     
  20. joshuadowen

    joshuadowen Senior member

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    I agree. I'm originally from the Bay Area, and would love to live there again, but think that this sort of business would have no hope out there. No one in SF wears suits anymore.
     

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