Combatant Gentlemen in Nordstrom: Call it step one of an ambitious plan this year to grow awareness of the born-online men’s suiting brand at brick-and-mortar.
The Irvine, Calif.-based brand has dabbled with its own pop-ups, testing consumer appetite from its target of Millennial males. But the start of a multiweek endeavor with Nordstrom, ending March 13, for the department store’s men’s wear pop-in series, called Heartbreakers II, will present Combatant Gentlemen alongside other brands. These include Bedwin & The Heartbreakers, Xander Zhou and Patrik Ervell, and all of them will be in select stores and on a separate landing page nested within nordstrom.com, where about a dozen Combatant Gentlemen stockkeeping units will be available online.
Suits and shirts start at $160 and $30 respectively.
“This is our first entryway into dealing with a larger retailer,” said Vishaal Melwani, chief executive officer, creative director and cofounder. “We’ve done a lot of pop-ups on our own but now we’re really excited about being amongst other brands and really showcasing what we do.”
Combatant Gentlemen will host its own events in three Nordstrom stores running alongside the pop-in beginning Feb. 27 in the company’s Market Street store in San Francisco. That will be followed up March 4 and 5 at the Pine Street Nordstrom in Seattle and then March 12 and 13 at the East Grand Avenue door in Chicago. The events will bring in guest DJs along with craft beer and whiskey tastings.
The Nordstrom link is good timing as Combatant Gentlemen gears up to release a dizzying array of new product and ramp up store growth.
Melwani disclosed to WWD last year that a Beverly Hills showroom would follow on the heels of an outpost located inside the company’s Orange County headquarters. That Beverly Hills door is expected to open in the near term.
Plans call for 10 stores in the next year and rather than continuing to populate the West Coast, Melwani and team are eyeing the other side of the country for its next stop, a practical move given the region represents the company’s largest customer base to date. Markets it’s considering include New York, Chicago, Boston and Washington, D.C.
“We see around an average of two to four times higher cart conversion price point-wise in store,” Melwani said. “It’s literally the best way that we see scale in terms of omnichannel.”
More doors will inevitably lead to top-line growth, with Melwani projecting an increase at a multiple of 3.5 times 2015 revenue, which he declined to disclose. Combatant Gentlemen, already profitable, expects to continue realizing a profit this year. Meantime, the company remains relatively free from the constraints that sometimes come with outside investors. It has raised a $2.2 million seed round but has no plans in the near term to seek additional funding.
“We’re pretty happy with that,” Melwani said. “The company’s growing profitably. We don’t necessarily need these really big rounds to scale. We think we’ve found a product that hits scale and velocity on its own. For me, being a merchant and growing up in the merchant world, I don’t dwell too much in the VC space so we’re always looking at what can we do before having to look for more money.”
The rest of the company’s growth will be aided with additional product launches, such as shoes, set for rollout in March. The offering will consist of three constructions, starting at $60 for those made in China, $100 for shoes made in Spain and $150 for those out of Italy.
There’s also a collaboration with Italian suitmaker Alberto Caruso on a collection of suits that will retail for under $300. That collection is expected in late summer.