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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. joshuadowen

    joshuadowen Senior member

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    The idea would be to offer things like suits/jackets/trousers under a house label. I might also offer shirts under a house label, but am not sure yet. I'd be looking to bring in established American brands for things like sweaters, ties, socks, bags, grooming, etc. No specific brands in mind yet, but the focus would definitely be on quality American brands.

    I wouldn't be looking to sell much in the way of casual wear (see Joffrey's point about editing), as I think there are enough places in town to buy this sort of stuff already.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
  2. shadesofbeige

    shadesofbeige Senior member

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    Oh gotcha, must've misread your original post. Probably the more specific the better. Good luck!
     
  3. bboysdontcryy

    bboysdontcryy Senior member

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    I used to live at Rhode Island Avenue, NW, 3 minutes away from the Brooks Brothers at Dupont Circle, and having been in DC for a bit, I think Georgetown seems like an ideal location for a shop. Fair mix of yuppies and with the good restaurants (lobbying firms) nearby, you can probably expect older gentlemen. Sterling & Burke, for instance, was also there.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  4. Cuttingboard

    Cuttingboard Senior member

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    Same here...the internet will be your biggest competitor. I realize I'm not telling you anything that you don't already know but you need to find a reason for people to visit your store. Some people still prefer building relationship and enjoy the customer service experience. Sales Associates at many B&Ms are rude and nasty and have turned many customers away. It happened to me many times at Brooks Brothers in Tyson's Corner.

    I know all of my sizes in certain brands and always shop online, especially during clearance sales. I don't have to wear a suit to work each day, only when I have meetings outside the office. Otherwise, I'm business casual (slacks, dress shirt and sport coat). Therefore, I have 4 fall/winter suits and 3 spring/summer suits and 6 sport coats. Even though I do not have to wear a tie to work each day, I'm constantly buying ties, most Drakes, Sam Hober, Panta or Vanda.
     
  5. prozach1576

    prozach1576 Senior member

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    I guess this is a matter of your values, but I think focusing too much on American-made goods and allowing it to drive up prices would be an unnecessary risk. I just don't see domestic manufacturing as something affluent young men in DC care about. Places like Styleforum and the #menswear blog scene dramatically overstate the importance of country of origin. Hell, it's almost unusual to spot an American car in this area. High-end menswear is a niche interest as it is; American-made menswear is a niche within a niche.
     
  6. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Senior member

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    Whats to say they appreciate nicer goods? Whats to say they want to move toward the higher end of the sartorial spectrum?

    I think these guys go to jcrew or brooks because they know when they leave there, they will be in a fairly boring but decent quality suit that won't ruffle any feathers. From what I've seen, this is a uniform, nothing more, and brooks and jcrew are the known entity.


    I think this store could work in the sense that it will stay afloat. I don't think this will be a massive money making venture, but if you enjoy it and don't mind not making a killing, you could probably be fine
     
  7. comrade

    comrade Senior member

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    Except the embattled igents in Style Forum.

    Suggestion: Belvest for the high end. They'll cut your model(s) to you specifications.
    Wilkes Bashford dropped them a couple of seasons ago. Superb RTW quality. For the next
    ( lower level) H. Freeman and/or Samuelsohn. Maybe these options are too high for the archtypal
    GS 12s, but for lawyers, consultants, think tank types, I think that they are right on.

    Good luck again. I look forward to visiting your shop the next time I am in DC.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
  8. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

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    You may want to stop in to Everard (Wisconsin and R, next door to Sky Valet). Seems pretty close to what you're interested in starting.
     
  9. comrade

    comrade Senior member

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    Based on their website, I would still travel to New York
     
  10. Viral

    Viral Senior member

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    What would be your elevator pitch to a guy who's perfectly fine with shopping at BB and other staple retailers and has been doing so for years? What is the real compelling factor here?

    Most people who wear suits do not read blogs or are part of SF-like communities.

    Something to consider.......
     
  11. SpooPoker

    SpooPoker Internet Bigtimer and Most Popular Man on Campus Dubiously Honored Affiliate Vendor

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    Quite kind of you, sir.
     
  12. EBugatti

    EBugatti Senior member

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    DC itself is a retailer's nightmare, that's why most of the "better" stores are on the periphery/suburbia. That's why I suggest Friendship Heights as well. Lots of people with cash are there and it is already known for high end shopping. If you really want to locate in DC itself, you could try the Farragut area - Burberry, chas tyrwhytt, brooks bros., and j press are all there.

    I would not recommend 14th st corridor (hipster doofus ville with no money).

    Downside of Farragut area is dead on weekends, unlike fship hts.

    Good luck. If you can pull off an Armoury kind of store, that would be awesome. Badly needed in DC.
     
  13. coolarrow

    coolarrow Senior member

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    A couple of observations:

    I recently saw a graphic that said that clothes buying for men hits its apex in his 50s. I guess this is when men start sagging in the face and other areas and start to overcompensate by buying nice clothing (We'll all find out, right!?) Maybe you should up your target demo a bit. I would think that older men would not be into internet buying, but not sure. This graphic may have been in Put This On. I'll try to come up with it.

    Streets of G'Town went out of business, I heard, and they seemed to be wanting to do what you want. I only stepped in there once so I don't know why they didn't make it. It was ok, but at the time I was not employed so couldn't splurge on their wares.

    I think we are in need of some sort of huge discount mens store like Syms or Filenes basement (which are gone). I think this town has a lot of cheap ass government employees who would rather go there than Macys when they need a staple suit/shoes, for example. That would be your bread and butter. Like restaurants make all their money selling booze (They break even on the food). Then have some sort of area where high end stuff would be highlighted (for us SF folks). Filene's basement had an area like that. I think it was called "Off the Runway" or "From our flagship store" . Can't remember.

    I would occasionally pull some good ties, shirts and shoes from syms and filenes.
     
  14. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I went to Streets a couple of times. I thought they had nice stuff, sales staff was knowledgeable and helpful. I'd view it as a cautionary tale for your venture. Maybe they were too expensive, but the store was put together nicely.

    Other thoughts:

    Location: I'm biased because I live there myself, but check out the area between Mt. Vernon Sq and Union Station on Mass Ave, near G-town law school. Like near City Vista. There are a TON of luxury high-rise buildings there now and more going up. There's really nothing in the way of clothing stores. It's close to the Hill too. Georgetown and Friendship Heights are really out of the way for anybody living in the city. Georgetown takes a bus to get there. Friendship Heights is pretty far up on the metro. Near Mt. Vernon Sq you get all the people in the city, plus it's easy walking distance to every metro line.

    Product: The Armoury is a great store, but they're selling Drakes ties, G&G shoes, and Liverano suits, which is a higher price point than what you seem to be thinking of. It seems like you want the store to be more "accessible and cool" and less "aspirational/intimidating". Also, the marketing and concept and everything will be a factor, but ultimately, when you're a retailer, people are buying your taste. If you have good taste and choose items people want and appreciate, then you've got a chance. Without that, you're screwed.
     
  15. EBugatti

    EBugatti Senior member

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    ^^^if you're going to try to do another suit supply don't bother. Also, belragzzo - have you ever tried running a business in DC? It is a very business-hostile environment. That's why DC doesn't have much retail compared to other US cities. Probably one of the reasons Streets went out of business. I would think three times before actually locating in the district itself.
     
  16. Cuttingboard

    Cuttingboard Senior member

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    I disagree! Tons of gentlemen on SF wear suits.
     
  17. Quadcammer

    Quadcammer Senior member

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    read what he wrote again
     
  18. Cuttingboard

    Cuttingboard Senior member

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    Still disagree, tons of guys that wear suits read blogs that include fashion, style, harberdashery sections.
    Of
     
  19. unbelragazzo

    unbelragazzo Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I don't have any experience running a business in DC - I guess that could be an argument for locating in FH. But really any location outside of DC you'll be in with the upscale mall type stores. Which personally I find kind of unattractive. But I believe you that taxes and regulations are more onerous in DC.
     
  20. manchambo

    manchambo Senior member

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    The point about men in their fifties makes a lot of sense to me. I'm now 35, make a good income, but I have kids and need to pay for braces, college, etc. So I basically try to get pretty nice stuff on sale. When I'm 55, barring some serious problem in my career, I should be making quite a bit more money, I will be done paying for my kids, my house will be paid off or nearly so, etc. I could easily see myself spending four times as much on clothes as I do now. In particular, I could see myself spending more time in a good men's clothing store, and less time in places like Neiman's last call and Off Saks than I do now. I would think that it would be a very good idea to make sure you include an older demographic in your plans.
     

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