LONDON — For any man who’s despaired of what to wear on a hot-weather holiday — that isn’t a linen top, a polo shirt or a pair of swimming trunks-cum-shorts — SMR Days has a solution.
The made-in-India brand offers breezy, tailored pieces such as Indian bandhani tie-dye, kantha embroidery, ikat weaving and block printing, and details including coconut, wood or mother-of-pearl buttons.
The brand is pitching itself as an effortless wardrobe for men, whether they’re traveling to hot climes, or staying at home, and the 24 styles in the first collection are meant to work together, and make packing easier.
The first collection will start selling on Smrdays.com on Nov. 2, as well as on Mr Porter and Matchesfashion.
“Women have so many options” for warm weather dressing, said Gautam Rajani, who founded SMR Days with two fashion industry colleagues, Adam Shapiro and Dan May. “What do men have? White linen shirts and trunks.”
During a joint video interview, May said he designed the collection around “taste, rather than fashion,” and that his aim was to design pieces that were “comfortable, fun, functional,” and enduring pieces.
He designed about 24 styles, or 60 pieces, such as tunic shirts and drawstring silk trousers, with the idea that a man could pack five items “to wear 15 ways.” He said the collection is trans-seasonal “but geared towards warmer climates,” and practical, too, with multiple pockets.
Prices range from 50 pounds for a baseball cap and 75 pounds for a T-shirt to 495 pounds for an embroidered, reversible jacket.
Nearly all of the debut collection was made in India, using local artisanal techniques. The founders said all of the factories are certified and provide equal pay, a guarantee of no child labor, and safe, ethical work conditions.
The founding trio — whose professional backgrounds span sales, fashion direction, marketing and public relations — is putting the focus on direct-to-consumer, and would argue that the audience ranges in age from 18 to 80 years. It also includes women who are buying for men.
Rajani said in the first season, 50 percent of the business will be direct-to-consumer, and that number is set to rise to 70 percent over the next two years. The remaining 30 percent of sales will come from wholesale accounts and boutiques.
Going forward, the plan is have pop-ups in resorts and boutique hotels worldwide, where SMR Days can speak to its clientele, and the local community.
He added it was important to launch with a digital, d-to-c model — and classic, season-less styles — so the company could retain as much control as possible over the sales cycles, marketing and brand image.
“We want to keep it meaningful, and not overproduce it. We’ll only have [markdowns] once a year. We do not want to be dictated by the cycle of fashion and the two markdowns a year,” said Rajani.
Selling directly to the consumer will also allow the founders to gather and analyze data, examine customers’ consumption and lifestyle patterns and measure the ROI of its digital marketing. “Everything is more within our control,” he said.
The three founders were able to react quickly even when things were no longer within their control.
This first collection and the e-commerce offer were supposed to launch in the spring, but COVID-19 put an end to that.
“We saw it as an opportunity to take an extra six months to work on the brand. We were proactive — and philosophical,” said Shapiro, adding that the partners instead poured their energies into building an editorial web site and engaging their nascent customer base on social media.
They made the web site editorial and filled it — and their social media channels — with travel stories, wardrobe and styling suggestions and images from photographers who were submitting work from around the world.
The company also created SMR Postcards, a gallery of photographs of summer days worldwide that viewers could send as digital postcards. It was a clever move as most international travel was curtailed last summer due to the coronavirus.
Shapiro said it was a great opportunity to speak to, and hear from, a broad community of men about travel and style.