J. Hilburn Measures Up
But even as the markets seem to be trying to lure more folks to the online clothing segment - men - and the the male custom clothing domain, has been a desert. You have often had to travel to dark and dank little holes in the wall shops to experience anything remotely 'tailored' and it is far from an upscale experience.
It seems that the team at J. Hilburn (the fastest-growing luxury men's brand) has come onto the screen scene just in time to offer stylish, sophisticated yet comfortable outerwear, casual gear and even the affordably high-end custom suit. All of this online and without all of those fittings. They have meshed the best of their more than 1,000 style advisors and the prevention of the oft-feared, much-loathed retail shopping experience.
We sat down with co-founder and president, Veeral Rathod to see what makes up the fiber of J. Hilburn and what it will take to make it in the ever-growing, highly underserved men's apparel world.
Co-Founder & President, J. Hilburn, Veeral Rathod
"I can say that we have taken an apporach to 'retailing' in the apparel market that is a by-product of the world's best practices. We can look at Starbucks as an example and what founder Howard Schultz saw in the consumer experience. Find the right employee and make the ultimate brand ambassadors to really create your experience. Our direct sales model, our style advisors, first embody the spirit of the brand ambassador and then build on the technological and universal advances that engage the entire experience of the J. Hilburn brand."
The privately held J. Hilburn has a lot going for it. Strong vested leadership for one. Rathod and co-ounder Hil Davis understand how to build a business through people. But most importantly they seem to believe that regardless of all of the things that can get in the way, the core of what they do is their product and the customer's relationship to it. They start... in Italy.
All of the materieals for the custom-tailored gear is fabricated in Italy and a few other European mills and built in factories by craftsmen who are already using their skills for other high-end luxury brands (Zenga, Burberry, etc.) and build it under the J. Hilburn label. All of that, with the right fit, a quality that isn't compromised and at a price point that is approachable.
According to Rathod, "One of the best things I have ever had a customer say to me is that he never felt a style advisor was trying to sell me something, in fact they have more often than not talked me out of something that wasn't the right fit." I want one of those! They plan on getting even better by taking your online closet/profile and making a bit of your past an indicator of your future and a style guide for the end user.
The next step is to become a lifestyle solution for men."To take the worry out of what to wear away from a guy each and every day," says Rathod.
With the incredibly low starting rate of just $89 for a custom shirt (60,000 sold in 2010 alone!) and a perfectly cut $700 suit at your fingertips and one day on the app of your choice seems like a hunter and gatherer's dream.