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Former Men's Wearhouse CEO on his "Uber for tailors" second act

Nicole Goodkind
Nicole Goodkind

George Zimmer may still be best known for his gravelly-voiced catchphrase in the Men's Wearhouse (MW) commercials of yore: “You’re going to like the way you look. I guarantee it.” But it’s been two years since he was ousted as the executive chairman (not to mention the face) of the men's retailer he founded, and he’s moved on. Never one to shy away from the buzziest of buzz terms, he’s calling his new business zTailors and he's framing it as the Uber of the tailoring world.

He explains the startup as an “on-demand tailor network." You enter your zip code on the website and schedule what day and time you want an tailor to come to your home or office, and "that’s it.” After the tailor fits you, they’ll take your clothing for five to seven days and deliver it back to you, altered. Zimmer says the price will be similar to what a tailor currently costs.

As for Zimmer, in June of 2013 he was terminated from Men’s Warehouse. The parting was not amicable. “It was dramatic -- they put all my stuff in storage,” he says. But leaving the business that he had been a part of for 40 years gave him a new perspective on the market, Zimmer adds.

“Online apparel has become so big, and I think all of us have clothing in our closest that we purchased online that doesn’t fit particularly well and so we don’t wear it,” he explains. Zimmer says zTailors plans to partner with online apparel retailers to be their recommended tailors and already has contracts with Macys.com (M) and Bloomingdales.com (M).

Part of the reason Zimmer believes he was let go from Men’s Wearhouse is because of his unique business model -- one that he is employing at zTailors. (Of the firing, Men's Wearhouse accused Zimmer of trying to regain more control of the publicly traded company.) 

“I believe in the stakeholder model of capitalism; not the shareholder model,” he says. “I run a company where the employees, the consumers, the communities and the suppliers all have a vested interest in not just the outcomes, but the processes of the company.” Asked what that means for his tailors' pay, he says he's hoping he can double their incomes by optimizing their time—he wants them to earn between $75,000 and $100,000 per year.

There is one thing that is changing, Zimmer is now administering criminal background checks for all employees, something he was against doing at Men’s Warehouse. “Unfortunately, because of the experiences we’ve all read about with Uber, we had to do it.”

While he says they will not be running television ads for zTailors, he stands by the old tagline he made familiar. When we asked if consumers using his new service are going to like the way they look, he replied: "I guarantee it."