One recent MBA graduate is making a fashion statement in the denim industry—premium jeans at half the price. And he wants to take on major name brands like Levi’s, J Crew and Seven7 Jeans.
“We know what makes great denim … and we offer it directly to the consumer,” said Alejandro Chahin, founder of Mott & Bow.
CNBC gave Chahin 60 seconds to take the runway and model his big idea to “Power Pitch” panelists Carson Kressley, celebrity stylist and fashion designer; Divya Gugnani, vice president of QVC’s digital innovation and founder of fashion start-up Send the Trend; and CNBC host and dreaded jeans shopper Dominic Chu. Watch now to see if Chahin’s designer denim will be a good fit for the panelists.
“Denim has been a passion of mine since I was little,” Chahin told CNBC.
At just 13, Chahin worked alongside his father who founded Intermoda, a denim manufacturing company that’s been around for more than 30 years. He helped his father in every aspect of the trade, from counting inventory to sewing, drying, scraping and washing jeans.
At 25, Chahin left Honduras to pursue his master’s in business administration at New York University. After graduating last year, Chahin wanted to start his own business and stitched together Mott & Bow Jeans, named after two streets in New York’s West Village, where Chahin lives.
Chahin gets the denim from Turkey, and his jeans are manufactured in Honduras at his family’s Intermoda plant.
Behind the seams
Mott & Bow jeans are sold in the U.S. on MottandBow.com. The company offers three fits (skinny, slim and straight), four different washes and three different fabrics. Chahin said he expects to have more offerings in the future.
One of Mott & Bow’s big perks is its home try-on program. Shoppers between two waist sizes receive a second pair of jeans at no additional cost. Customers then return the jeans that don’t fit.
“Since we are vertically integrated and going direct to consumer, we are the only premium jean brand offering a superb jean at revolutionary price point,” Chahin told CNBC.
All Mott & Bow jeans are priced at $96 with free shipping.
Trying them on for size
All of CNBC’s Power Pitch panelists ordered Mott & Bow jeans to test the start-up’s service and quality. Although the panelists were generally happy with their new jeans, they expressed some concerns.
Kressley said, “No other men's-wear product is more about sexiness. I mean, everybody has their favorite pair of jeans.” But he then asked Chahin how he planned to raise awareness about Mott & Bow.
“Word of mouth is key. We want a happy customer all the way. So once a customer receives that product, we believe that he'll tell his friends,” Chahin responded.
Chu asked how Mott &Bow stays economically viable competing against major brands like Levi’s, which has been a dominant player in the industry since 1873.
“We feel there’s a real market for $90 jeans that the consumer feels great about. We’re building a great brand,” Chahin responded. “We want our customers to feel there’s an aspirational value.”
Mott & Bow launched in February with two employees and a $300,000 investment from Intermoda. Chahin would not disclose revenue but said the company is growing 10 percent month over month. He projects the company will be profitable by 2018.
“If we want to be small, we can be profitable within a year, but that is not our goal. We want to grow, so we have to keep reinvesting the money to make the business grow,” he told CNBC.
Sorry ladies, but Chahin does not plan on expanding to the women’s denim market anytime soon.
See Alejandro Chahin pitch his jeans to celebrity stylist and fashion designer Carson Kressley, QVC vice president Divya Gugnani and CNBC host Dominic Chu.
--Additional Reporting by Erin Barry and Kelly Lin
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