Made to Measure Sportwear (Think JCrew but custom)
Vastrm gives clothing tailors a new revenue stream by providing them with a full range of custom apparel they can sell to their clients. Tailors measure their clients in person, enter them online, and three weeks later deliver custom clothes to their clients. Vastrm gives tailors more products to sell while retaining the personal touch of custom tailoring.
Vastrm gives clothing tailors a new revenue stream by providing them with a full range of custom apparel they can sell to their clients. Tailors traditionally been restricted to selling just a few products namely suits and button down shirts. Vastrm gives them an online portal where they can enter client measurement that they take in person, and then have custom polo shirts shipped to their store for delivery to the client. In the future, we will expand to a full line of custom apparel. We are expanding the number of products a quality tailor can offer while maintaining the high-touch experience their clients love.
How did you get started?
Vastrm began as an online custom apparel company. We sold custom polos direct to consumers, but like most direct to consumer apparel companies, our cost of customer acquisition was just too high.
We pivoted six months ago after meeting with a group of tailors in New York City. They wanted to make more money by expanding the number of products they sold. In the last 4 months we have signed up 70 tailors as customers that sell our products to their clients. By selling through tailors we have solved the main issue all direct to consumer apparel companies have to deal with, scaleable distribution. We provide new revenue opportunities for tailors, and they provide us with a massive customer base of wealthy loyal individuals. It’s a win-win.
What problem are you solving for tailors?
Basically, tailors need new ways to make money. They have loyal clients, but can only sell them so many suits and button down shirts. There is a huge demand for custom apparel, but tailors don’t have an easy way to add additional products. Instead of producing the clothes themselves, tailors use our platform to design, customize, and manufacture one-of-a-kind shirts for their clients. We give them an easy way to use the client measurements they already have to upsell their clients on new products, creating a massive new revenue stream for them.
How big is the market?
The tailor business was $7B in 2012, and $8.6B in 2013. It is the only segment of the apparel industry with double digit growth. Unique, customized clothing is more popular than ever, and tailors have the high net worth clientele and personalized service to take advantage of it.
What are the economics?
We pay our manufacturers $25-$35 per shirt. Tailors customize and buy them for $65 or more a piece, and then sell to their clients for ~$145 and up.
How have your current tailors performed?
The average tailor sells 8 shirts per month, while top performers sell 40. Right now we don’t have account management resources, so it’s difficult for us to manage these tailors, teach them how to sell the product and get their numbers up. With a few more resources we can bring the average up 2x to 20 shirts per month and yearly revenue per tailor up to $20k.
How has revenue changed after switching to the new tailor channel?
Last year using the old direct-to-consumer model we did $150k in revenue. This year we’ll earn over $400k from a mere 70 tailors.
How else will you help tailors increase business?
We provide tailors with marketing tools that they have never had before. Most tailors don’t know how to market. We give tailors email templates to engage their clients with offers for small dollar purchases like polos. These are simple tactics that most tailors have never used. The Vastrm platform also gives tailors the ability to create customized apparel lines to sell under their own brand. Tailors can use our wysiwyg in the in the browser, on the iPad and iPhone to completely customize the entire garment, and have it hit production within minutes.
Do you brand the apparel?
Not always. The tailors are our customers. Most tailors want to brand their own clothes and we’re happy to do that for them or provide a blank garment they customize themselves. The personal touch is really important to most tailors and we recognize that.
What is your manufacturing process?
Our turnaround time is three weekscompared to 6 to 9 weeks for their suits and shirting vendors. We partnered with one of the three largest supply chains in the world, with the capacity for sixty million pieces a year out of twelve factories in Asia. To diversify we’ve tied in two other supply chains just in case. We process everything through our facility in Burlingame, CA and will soon move to a third party outside of Dallas, Texas.
How satisfied are your customers?
80% of tailors have ordered multiple times and less than 1% of our shirts are returned. That’s incredible when you consider the industry average for direct to consumer sales is a 40% return rate. We haven’t had any complaints from tailors thus far, and they are able to make small adjustments on site when needed.
“Awesome job!” -David Lynn, head of custom clothing, Richard’s, Greenwich CT
“Dante (SVP, Discovery Land Group) is ecstatic about his polos!! He loves them and has received so many compliments on the look, fit and feel of them. I actually now have the owner of Discovery and one of our partners in the BH office requesting to place a large order for themselves!”
“You have now become my favorite vendor!!” -Bob Baumann, custom clothier
“Regarding the 13 polos for Tony Prophet, you nailed the fit and the client loves them!” -Jason Mann, custom clothier
How will you acquire more tailors?
I signed-up all 70 over the past few months myself, and I was only working on the problem part-time. We find tailors for free with Google, Yelp, and LinkedIn, send an intro email and follow up with a phone call. It is a very inexpensive way to acquire the initial relationship. Vastrm adds incredible value to any tailor, and once we get them on the phone most want to sign-up. With two new staff members we now have the team to handle outreach, and should sign-up 10-20 every week.
We also plan on partnering with high-priced retailers(Wilkes Bashford SF and PA, Mitchell’s Westport CT, Richard’s - Greenwich CT, Sam Malouf’s Burlingame CA)who already have tailors on staff, and give them additional custom apparel that can be measured and ordered in store. Another market we have started to penetrate are high end golf course pro shops, where we can be an added luxury service for private club members and their guests. There are over 4000 golf course across the country.
Do you have any competition?
There is zero competition in the custom polo space. The real competition are traditional luxury brands, and luring their customers into the custom polo market.
What does your roadmap look like?
First we’ll get every tailor in business. Right now each tailor sells an average of 8 pieces per month, once we on-board thousands of tailors, we’ll educate them and provide numerous resources to increase their sales (and ours).
But the grand vision has two strategies. First we will use our online platform and manufacturing infrastructure to expand the number of products we offer to tailors. Eventually we’ll produce an entire catalogue of custom clothes - Vastrm will be as large as J-Crew online, but every garment will be customized to fit perfectly.
We also plan develop a website that connects custom clothes seekers with one of our tailor partners in their area. They’ll get measured, and order everything online via the Vastrm platform - like Uber for tailors and custom clothes. Ultimately anyone - tailors and consumers - who wants quality clothes that fit well will use Vastrm.
Do you have any notable partners?
The TAL Group invested in us and serve as mentors. They’re one of the three largest supply chains in the world. They’re investors in Bonobos and J. Hilburn. TAL has six labels in department stores like Nordstrom and boutiques around the country. They were blown away by our strategy and are now helping us succeed.
Vastrm is not conducting a Regulation Crowdfunding offering. Hosted by Wefunder Inc.
Founder Jonathan Tang is a tall, slender guy who struggled to find golf shirts that fit. Ones that were right in the shoulders were often too big in the waist or too short in length. Enter Vastrm, which promises a better fit by offering 24 size options to customize polos to your dimensions.
After extensive R&D, Tang developed a process that allows the user to make custom fit adjustments to a top-quality polo shirt. Sign up, and once you identify your ideal fit, you can purchase a Vastrm curated design or create your own design by using a simple configurator. Save your project for your next order so no matter what fabric, color or style you choose you’re bound to get the custom fit you’ve come to cherish. Bonus: All Vastrm’s shirts are design in San Francisco.
In comparison, e-commerce YC grad Vastrm helps men buy tailored polo shirts. Customers receive a few sample shirts in the mail, and then they can use them as a basis to make measurement adjustments online — like choosing a longer sleeve length or different pockets. Once they’ve picked their ideal measurement a fresh, fitting batch gets shipped back to them.
Finding a nice fitting polo shirt can be a pain, but they do exist. Companies like Vastrm make the experience a whole lot easier. And the same applies to dress shirts. I was and am a skinny dude but I used to wear pretty baggy dress shirts with the shoulder seam practically at my elbows. You need to choose the right style depending on your shape with popular choices such as slim cut, athletic cut, and classic cut.
Y Combinator alum Vastrm has been pretty busy lately. In addition to locking up another $1 million in seed funding from A16z, SV Angels, Ignition Partners, and Will Smith (to name a few), the startup redesigned its website slightly modified its sense of purpose.
As a modern shirt archetype the Polo has served us men well, but in terms of fit it can often be too tight, too loose, or too short. VASTRM’s got it all figured out: they send you a generic fit shirt, and then, based on your feedback (take the waist in, longer sleeves, etc.) and choice of style and color, manufacture a custom polo just for you.
If you're frustrated by ill-fitting polo shirts, know that our next guest is working on your problem. The company name means 'cloth' in Sanskrit, Vastrm creates and sells custom polo shirts. I spoke with the founder, Jonathan Tang this week, about how fit trumped even style.
The blend of the physical and the digital is also found in Vastrm, a Web site that offers customized shirts, including a “Home Try-On Program,” similar to what Warby Parker offers for eyeglasses. Vastrm’s founder received one of the loudest appreciative laughs of the day when he pointed to Warby Parker’s success and remarked, “Not everyone wears glasses, but everyone wears a shirt.”
Vastrm - Calls itself Warby Parker for shirts. The company provides custom fitted shirts that go beyond the typical small, medium, large sizes. Users fill out an online quiz and Vastrm then determines their perfect fit. Vastrm sends shirts customers to try until they have one they are happy with. Founder Jonathan Tang’s family is in the apparel business.
Founder Jonathan Tang comes from a family that has rooted itself in the textile and garment industry over multiple generations. As a result, Tang has direct access to fabrics at lower prices than even the large department stores. And those department stores have another disadvantage for customers: They offer a skewed sizing curve, he says. So a medium here isn’t always a medium there. Tang thinks he can do better.
Tang came up with the idea for Vastrm, which is a Sanskrit word for cloth, when a customer told him he had purchased a perfect shirt in Italy and has never been able to find the same fit again. He was considering flying back to Italy to track the shirt maker down, but Jonathan managed to adjust Vastrm shirts to the same fit.
August 9, 2012
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