Fashion start-up Proper Suit has a hi-tech plan to make shopping less annoying for men. It includes lasers, really fancy threads, and your exact measurements saved in the cloud. Guys who hate to shop seem to like it and so do some guys who love to shop.
"Why didn't I think of that?" said Carson Kressley, fashion designer and star of the hit Bravo TV series "Queer Eye for the Straight Guy."
CNBC gave the company's founders 60 seconds to PowerPitch their innovative plan to revolutionize men's fashion, you can watch it and see Carson's reaction in the video above.
Start-up Proper Suit doesn't want men to ever have to suit shop again.
Co-founder McGregor Madden told CNBC, "[The Proper Suit] mission is simple: make the highest quality, best-fitting suits on the market for a really awesome low price. Guys hate to shop, so we have catered our company to make it fun and easy."
Madden along with his co-founder Richard Hall, both 28-years old, met while studying abroad in Honk Kong. Prior to starting Proper Suit in 2010, the two worked in China, Madden at Groupon (GRPN) and Hall at a modeling agency. Their fashion startup combines old-school tailoring with technology; here's how it works:
When a Proper Suit client makes an appointment with one of the company's custom fit specialists (think tailor with a tape measure and an eye for style), the specialist takes the client's measurements to create what the company refers to as a “300 point fit check.” Then the specialist helps navigate a bunch of suiting options that include Italian-made fabrics from high-end designers like Loro Piana, and Zegna, and helps with decisions on style, fit, buttons, lining, stitching, and venting. From the exact placement of a cellphone pocket, to rubber-lined waistbands that keep customers shirt tucked in, the whole design-your-own-suit process takes about an hour. Afterward, the custom specs are saved to the cloud and made-to-measure in China using autoCAD laser-cutting technology. In 6-8 weeks the suit is shipped to the client in a no-frills cardboard box via UPS.
“Our knowledge of fit for the person is unmatched, and our no-hard-sell easy shopping and fitting experience is the future of custom," said Madden.
The founders admit once delivered, the first suit will probably require a few more tweaks made for free by one of their tailors. But with all the final measurements saved in the cloud, Madden told CNBC that, assuming a client they’ve suited doesn’t put on the pounds, or lose them, every suit after the first one should fit like a glove.
"We circumvent traditional retail by manufacturing the garments ourselves so we leave all the money in the product," said Madden.
Depending mostly on fabric choice, the company's suits range in price from $850-$1850, which makes them less expensive than designer suiting brands like Gucci (GUCG), Prada, and Zegna but more expensive than suit retailers like Men's Wearhouse (MW).
The competition in online made-to-measure suiting is growing fast. J.Hilburn is a startup backed by more than 12 million in venture capital that also custom builds suits made from imported Italian fabric but does it at a price range between $520 and $850. If you're willing to take matters into you own hands, or at least a tape measure, online suiter IndoChino makes suits-to-measure starting at $429.
Madden told CNBC, "Quality and price are more effective than advertisements.”
The Chicago-based start-up relies heavily on word of mouth and does no advertising. With just a handful of a fit specialists who operate by appointment only, one of the company’s biggest challenges is building the size of the operation. In big markets like New York, LA, and San Francisco, fittings are still only available about one or two days a month in pop-up locations.
Both founders of the 100 percent bootstrap start-up still do double-duty as fit specialists.
“We eat what we kill, in other words $10,000 self-funded,” said Madden.
But they’re apparently hungry for more, using profits from Proper Suit they started a second company called Hall & Madden. That one is for guys who hate to shop for dress shirts. Instead they can subscribe to the service and have three new shirts delivered to their doorstep every few months.
CNBC gave the founders of Proper Suit @propersuit 60 seconds to convince you their business will revolutionize men’s fashion. Watch the video and judge for yourself along with Power Pitch panelists: Fashion guru Carson Kressley @CarsonKressley, CNBC host Brian Sullivan @SullyCNBC and Internet entrepreneur and founder of Travelocity Terry Jones @Terrellbjones.
--Comments, questions, suggestions? We'd love to hear from you. Follow us @CNBCPowerPitch, and join the #PowerPitch conversation on twitter, or post your comments below.
- Small Businesses
- Carson Kressley