When David Hathiramani’s best friend returned from Nepal in a well-fitted, high quality, affordable suit, a business opportunity came to mind. What if the two were to use technology and the assistance of amazing Nepalese tailors to create a convenient and cost-effective process by which men could buy affordable bespoke suits?
And so the concept behind the brand, A Suit That Fits, was born. Now in its 8th year, this disruptive fashion startup is renowned for its quality products and use of multichannel retailing. Their customers are able to personalise more than just their suit; they have control over their experience with the brand, with a variety of online and offline options available for them throughout the tailoring process.
Curious to know more, we (the marketing pandas) got in touch with co-founder David ...
Marketing Pandas (MP): Tell us a little bit more about A Suit That Fits
David Hathiramani (DH): We’re passionate about good suits and the experience that comes with buying one. Tailors have been around forever, but in this day and age, going to a tailor is rarely an option - the majority of men can’t afford to spend thousands on one suit. It’s because of this that they turn to high street off the peg stores, sacrificing fit for affordability. A good suit should make you feel confident and comfortable; when it fits well, that’s exactly what it does, but when it doesn’t fit ...
Tailoring isn’t a new concept, but using technology to streamline the process is. And that’s what we do. We use new technologies and a variety of offline and online options to give customers the most convenient, affordable and enjoyable experience possible, based on their own needs and wants. The end result? A suit that fits.
MP: What has been the biggest change so far for A Suit That Fits?
DH: The move from online business to multi-channel retailer. We’re constantly gathering feedback and learning. 8 years ago, we operated solely online and that was great, but through feedback and experience, we realised that adding offline elements to our process would be crucial to our growth. Each person is different, and when you’re dealing with high involvement purchases like suits, the importance of offline interactions can’t be overlooked.
When we emerged as an online service, we did all that we could to gather as much information as possible on preferences and measurements, but measures can be misleading – for example, you can have 2 people who are the same size, but their different body shapes will mean that the suit fits a little too tight (or loose) in places. We’re all about creating a suit that delights so to cater to individuals’ needs, change was required.
MP: Does this level of personalisation present an obstacle to future growth?
DH: Scaling the level of service that we provide is a big challenge. When it comes to expanding internationally, we need to consider how people abroad will react to, and feel about, a purely online experience. We also need to understand how partners operating our fitting studios outside of the UK will replicate the experience that we provide here. So how we can scale the service without compromising our USPs is always on our mind ... but definitely not an insurmountable obstacle.
MP: Men vs. women - how do they differ when it comes to buying suits?
DH: 90% of our business comes from males. Women have a lot more choice - online and offline - when it comes to buying suits so they don’t make up a huge part of our customer base. The majority of females can also get away with wearing fashion clothing to work, which makes purchasing a bespoke suit less of a necessity for them.
That said, we will offer more for the female market in future, but with more of a focus on fashion clothing that can be worn as workwear. Right now, our efforts are on nurturing and developing our male audience.
CP: What are the biggest obstacles that you’ve had to overcome to get to where you are now?
DH: First of all, it was convincing people that you really could buy a suit online. It was an entirely new concept. The next obstacle was all about scaling - how can servicing people in the international market with an online only service work? Then our focus turned to moving from being an online brand to a multichannel retailer; this took years to refine, with massive changes to our internal structure to really get it right. Now, we’re at the point where we need to focus primarily on profitability. We’ve recently closed our crowdfunding round and we’re getting plans on paper for the next 6 - 12 months … It’s all about scaling profitability while also - of course - maintaining our quality service and product.
CP: What tips do you have for entrepreneurs targeting the male demographic?
DH: Intuitively understand your market, do your research and test. Make sure that what you’re trying to sell is something that you would actually buy yourself. If you’re a female looking to target a male audience, ask a male that you trust for their honest opinion.
CP: Now, onto a subject that’s close to our heart - hiring. Tell us a little about your thoughts on the ‘right person’.
DH: It’s tough to find the right person, and when it comes to hiring, there’s no ‘one size fits all’ criteria that applies across the company. I mean, the people who work in logistics will have different passions, motivations and skills than those who work as tailors or within marketing. And that’s fine. For the people ‘on the frontline’ - those in the studio and promoting the brand, cultural fit is incredibly important - there has to be buy in for our products. If they don’t love suits and truly understand - and embrace - our products, that in itself will be a barrier to success. The importance of this is reflected in our salary package, which includes suit credits. When it comes to our best hires, they’re wearing our suits, they’re bought into the overall process and they really enjoy what they do. And that’s what makes all the difference.
Big thanks to David for taking the time to chat with us about his journey with A Suit That Fits. An excellent brand and a truly innovative and exciting startup!
In need of a new suit? Or just curious to learn more about the brand and all that it has to offer? Head on over to the website ...