Men typically don’t enjoy clothes shopping, and in particular the fitting element of that process — as a guy I’m qualified to speak on that: yet all men like to look good in nice clothes and sharp suits. That’s a conundrum that Knot Standard — a New York-Dubai based company — is aiming to fix… with style.
In basic terms, Knot Standard is an e-commerce company that lets customers buy and sell tailored suits and other menswear online. Beyond merely removing the pain of traipsing around physical retail stores, it is in the business of providing custom-made suits. That means each one is developed to the exact measurements of the customer — and, remarkably, it uses only the Internet do that.
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I got my own bespoke look at the company in Dubai, when it presented during the Geeks On A Plane* trip organized by 500 Startups.
The prospect of ordering goods from the comfort of your home is something most people already appreciate — but when it comes to clothes, there are obvious concerns about size, fit, reliability and other assurances that you get from a physical retailer but lose online.
Yet, Knot Standard says its return-rate is just 2 percent, while its alteration rate is an impressive 15 percent. So what’s the secret?
The company uses multiple measurements to get customer specifications. Customers can provide their sizes from clothing by well-know brands and also self-taken measurements, all of which is used to build a virtual representation of each customer, which is updated whenever they provide new sizes or data.
The site walks those who are unsure about self-measurement through the process using videos.
Interestingly, the company says that measurements recorded by professional tailors are, in its experience, twice as likely to be wrong than its Web-based model. The Knot Standard team certainly has a basis for comparison since the founders tested their business model working with tailors in the Middle East directly, before outsourcing some of its production to high-end factories in China which serve a bevvy of the world’s top designers and brands. (The company also manufactures in Dubai and Brooklyn.)
Tailored clothing is generally associated with luxury — after all, the idea of having garments that are designed precisely for your own measurements suggests expense — but, in fact, Knot Standard’s products are surprisingly affordable.
By shifting part of its production to China — and sourcing fabric direct from mills — the company can price its suits from around $500, while shirts, blazers, ties and other accessories are also on offer.
Sounds good so far, but sorry ladies, the company’s focus is squarely on men, for now.
“We realize men are brand loyal, and we want to own that space before we expand our focus to include women,” says Tarig El Sheikh, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Knot Standard, says.
Knot Standard isn’t solely focused on the male consumer market, however, since it has diversified its model by working with corporate clients and lucrative sports markets. In particular, a loosening of regulations is helping it find business among the male college sports space in the US.
Sourcing materials from the mills themselves not only allows Knot Standard to compete with physical tailors on price, delivery from the Web-based company is just 20 days as opposed to 4-8 weeks with a traditional brick and mortar tailor.
Though it is an online company, Knot Standard also has three physical showrooms in New York, Dubai, and Washington DC. The benefit here, aside from a visible channel to help acquire new customers and build a brand, is that the fitting process can be more accurate and conventional for shoppers.
So, there you have it, Knot Standard is an interesting option if you’re seeking a quality suit and are open to trying the Web-based approach. On the negative side, laziness is one less excuse us fellas have for not being sharply suited and well-attired at all times.
*Disclosure: 500 Startups paid for my travel and accommodation during the Geeks On A Plane trip… they have no input into what I write about. Even if they did, I wouldn’t listen :)
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