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Men'sWeek issue 10/30/2014

SAN FRANCISCO — Made-to-measure specialist Trumaker will soon be about more than just made-to-measure.

This story first appeared in the October 30, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The men’s wear start-up, based here and rooted in casual shirts, is introducing ready-to-wear with sweaters, belts, ties and leather goods priced mostly from $40 to $300. Mark Lovas, founder and chief executive officer, expects that, eventually, rtw will account for half of Trumaker’s sales.

“We started with the intent of being a lifestyle brand,” said Lovas. “Our focus right now is on the belt [and] up, and next year we are launching pants around a concept we call kits. Blazers and pants are in kits, rather than [being presented] as suits, that you can put together many different ways to solve different problems.”

The rtw will broaden the repertoire of what customers — mainly men from 28 to 48 years old — can order from Trumaker, which already has expanded into blazers. These extensions could boost Trumaker’s average transaction to $600 to $700 by year’s end from $423 last month, according to Lovas. Reorders account for about a third of Trumaker’s sales.

In rtw as in made-to-measure, Trumaker’s strategy is to price its merchandise 20 percent more than similar goods at Nordstrom, Macy’s or J. Crew. Trumaker customers are “mainstream guys, but because they’re getting fitted with Trumaker, they perceive it to be more valuable. They are comfortable with our prices. We don’t get a lot of price resistance,” said Lovas.

Trumaker’s direct-sales model isn’t changing with the additional goods. The company has a seven-city network composed of 200 “outfitters” who typically spend 30 minutes or less in a new customer’s office, digitally inputting measurements into a mobile app and sorting through Trumaker’s clothing options to discern the customer’s favorites. Lovas said 95 percent of men who go through the outfitter process purchase from Trumaker. Next year, the company could increase the number of outfitters to 1,000 in 15 to 24 cities

“It is the distribution angle that gives us a competitive advantage,” said Lovas, a direct-sales veteran with stints at 3 Day Blinds and Cutco Cutlery owner Vector Marketing Corp. The outfitter process occurs online as well as in person, he noted. “Our ability to grow in the early days is because of this field structure. We don’t have physical locations, we don’t have the risk of opening a $2 million store, and we can be everywhere the major boxes aren’t.”

Lovas isn’t taking physical locations off the table, however. In fact, he plans to open a second-story Trumaker store by the end of next year and envisions the brand spreading to the nation’s top-20 urban markets. Lovas has experience with retail at Bonobos, where, as a consultant, he was charged with identifying alternative distribution possibilities and ended up spearheading the brand’s Guideshops. Bonobos founder and chief executive Andy Dunn is an investor in Trumaker, which has raised $8.4 million. Other investors include Javelin Venture Partners, RRE Ventures, Red Swan Ventures, Coyote Ridge Ventures, BoxGroup, Venrock, Velos Partners, Eniac Ventures and Alex Bard.

“Once we have enough clientele and enough scale to minimize the cost of a retail location, we will have second-story retail. As we get to be a larger business, it makes sense to have [a location] where outfitters can meet clients in the major markets,” said Lovas.

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