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

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

  1. catlettsl

    catlettsl Senior member

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    Parking!!!! Parking is a bitch in this city. Which will cut down on customers. Yes there is a market, yes people in this city will spend the money. But you have to find a space where people can access the business. That's why so many people just end up at malls. Also retail space is very costly here. Not being a downer at all just some points to consider. Best of luck
     


  2. J. Cogburn

    J. Cogburn Senior member

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    William Fox & Co. - a block from the White House - sells some of the best OTR classic menswear available in the U.S.; Samuelsohn suits, Drakes ties, Bill's Khakis, Hertling trousers, Great Scottish sweaters, and Hilditch & Keys shirts for instance. While I love the place, they don't seem to do that much business from what I can tell. Only a few employees, a small store front, small but tightly edited inventory, and they've been around forever. Why haven't they grabbed more market share?

    Perhaps you're envisioning a more fashion-forward inventory, which means Fox & Co. is not a cautionary tale.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013


  3. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I have a further piece of advise, which I find to be increasingly useful in the age of the webz. You don't want to just buy seasonally. Of course, you want big drops, but you want deliveries constantly, every 2 weeks, at least, to keep the customer engaged. Epaulet is a good example of this. And doing a lot of house label and working well and directly with factories, makes this somewhat easier. It's more work, but the payoff is that you have customers constantly coming in, not coming in a couple of times, buying something they want, and then figuring out what they will buy on sale (which happens when you buy deep and only seasonally.) Own label, constant drops, shallow buys with no restocks (so that there is actual scarcity and exclusivity.)

    With this model, the marketing strategies that work for 2013 make a lot of sense. You want a newsletter that goes out to all customers, as well as a black book for repeat customers. You want to have engagement on Styleforum and maybe on smaller menswear forums. Remember, there are thousands who post regularly, and tens of thousands who post sometimes, but there are literally millions of readers who will find your thread through organic search. This helps both your local market had expands past, so that you are buffered against local economic downturns (I know a lot of European boutiques that are being bolstered by American sales.) Also, it keeps repeat customers engaged in your brand with fellow enthusiasts, in a safe space. The haberdashery model can and does still work, but it has to be built with 2013 technology and customers in mind.
     


  4. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo Moderator

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    maybe talking at a totally different price-point, but there is fields. not RTW, but awesome stuff. like, really awesome.

    also, i see that there are people in this thread responding that they are interested, but you need more than 10 customers for a business to work. if the vast majority of people there either dont care at all, or are interested in the saks/neimans well established brands route, or want a very very high-end bespoke service like fields, that does not leave you a lot of room to build a customer base and make money without finding a way to get people to significantly change their vantage point and interests in mens tailored clothing.

    you need to find a reliable indicator on a large scale, to see how much interest and opportunity really lies in this venture.

    it could be great, but whatever business you chose to jump into, especially a B&M place in a set locale, make sure you have more than enough reason to think that you have a market for what you are doing.

    just my 2 cents. good luck!
     


  5. bourbonbasted

    bourbonbasted Cyber Eliitist

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    Fields and KW/Epaulet don't belong in the same breath. Just saying. :)
     


  6. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo 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.
     


  7. bourbonbasted

    bourbonbasted Cyber Eliitist

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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.
     


  8. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo 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.
     


  9. 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).
     


  10. 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


  11. joshuadowen

    joshuadowen Senior member

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


  12. 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..
     


  13. 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?
     


  14. 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.
     


  15. 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.
     


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