NEW YORK — Alton Lane is going big for its 13th store.
The custom men’s wear brand on Friday will debut an 1,800-square-foot store at 7 Harrison Street in TriBeCa, its most ambitious and highest-profile opening to date.
“We view this as our flagship,” said Colin Hunter, cofounder and chief executive officer.
Alton Lane was founded in 2009 by Hunter and his college buddy Peyton Jenkins to offer high-end custom clothing and furnishings at an affordable price. The company uses 3-D body-scanning technology and offers a one-on-one experience in a relaxed environment.
The company also operates a store in the Flatiron district of Manhattan, but that location on the fifth floor is more of a destination. Because the brand has so many customers that live or work downtown, it made sense to open a store in that area.
“We looked for an opportunity for a location that was more accessible,” Hunter said of the bright, corner space in TriBeCa.
In addition to a large assortment of fabric books and a variety of fit models of suits, sport coats and dress shirts, the store also features a fully stocked bar with bourbon from Elijah Craig, a private poker room, several televisions and seating areas.
Suits start at around $600 and can go up to $12,000 for one made from Scabal’s diamond chip fabric. The opening price point model is “a bit of a loss leader for us,” Hunter admitted, but it brings customers into the space and introduces them to the brand.
“We never want anyone to feel they have to graduate from our brand,” he said.
Alton Lane also offers suits from Loro Piana fabrics for $1,500. “When you place an order with us, it goes directly to our mills and factories, so there’s no middle man,” he said.
Around half of the company’s business is in shirts, which start at $99 and are manufactured in Vietnam. The turnaround is 10 days.
The store also carries a few third-party brands for grooming products, water bottles and other items that help round out the mix.
Hunter said Alton Lane this week is closing on a second round of financing that will allow it to further expand its retail footprint around the country. Although he declined to name the investors or the amount, he said they’re strategic investors rather than institutional. “We didn’t want to be a four-year flip,” Hunter said. “These are long-term investors.”
Right now, Alton Lane operates showrooms in Boston; Atlanta and Savannah, Ga.; Charlotte and Raleigh, N.C.,;Charlottesville and Richmond, Va.; Chicago; Dallas; Nashville, and Washington, D.C. It also has a customized Airstream trailer that it will bring to customers’ homes, golf clubs or conventions.
“Our ultimate goal is to have a couple hundred stores,” Hunter said. While that seems ambitious, he said an Alton Lane store can be opened for a minimal cash outlay — the TriBeCa unit cost only $65,000 to build out, he said — and all the stores are profitable.
The Flatiron store, for example, boasts sales eight times the national average, the Richmond store makes over $1 million in sales and the unit in his hometown of Charlottesville was profitable in six months, he said.
Because the stores are small and [we] work with customers individually, staffing levels are low, with an average of only two employees per location. But most of those who visit an Alton Lane store buy. “We have an over 95 percent conversion rate,” Hunter said. “And our goal is to cover our rent on the first day of the month.”
Interestingly, some 70 percent of Alton Lane’s customers have never had a custom garment made before. “So we see an opportunity to offer guys a wardrobe that fits them perfectly and are not off the rack.”
He said “any market that has a Brooks Brothers” has the potential to get an Alton Lane unit. “Our store model is very profitable,” he added, saying that New York City alone can accommodate has many as five to seven units around town. Houston is also on the wish list.
Before launching Alton Lane, Hunter was a consultant with Bain & Co. while Jenkins has a background in commercial real estate. The company is based in New York City with its back-office functions in Virginia.