Thursday, May 9, 2013

Part two: Interview with Eric Powell of Ratio Clothing

Editor's note — This is part of a continuing Pinstripes and Tweed series on custom clothing

The internet has revolutionized many things, including menswear, which is no longer limited to the off-the-rack offerings of stores or the expensive Savile Row-inspired tailors. 

Today a growing number of entrepreneurs are taking advantage of the internet to offer the quality and customization of made-to-measure tailoring to gentlemen everywhere.

PHOTO courtesy of Ratio Clothing.

One of these savvy entrepreneur-cum-21st century haberdashers is Eric Powell of Ratio Clothing, which sells high-quality, American-made custom shirts. recently sat down with Powell for an exclusive interview. The following are excerpts of that interview (see part one, which was published May 6). Custom clothing is clearly the wave of the future. Do you think we are approaching the day when department stores and other legacy brands will offer more made-to-measure, or at least made-to-order, options? Ratio has made it so easy.

Eric Powell: Bespoke and made-to-measure has been around at the higher end of the clothing spectrum for a while, but it will be interesting to see if brands that are more accessible jump into the fray. Part of my motivation in starting the company was loving something at a place like J. Crew, but being shut out by the off-the-rack sizing. I think it would be interesting if they jumped into that. Brands can talk about offering a great fit all day, but it’s just impossible for a large portion of people to get a great fit if all that is available to them is small, medium and large.

But I think there are a lot of things that keep brands like that from doing what we’re doing. They’re all pretty set in their ways in terms of production schedules and the margins that come with mass production. Who’s the average Ratio customer? Is it mostly 20-something?

Eric Powell: I’d say early 20s to 40s. We get an equal number of guys starting careers, but plenty of folks that are well-established in law, finance or whatever. Generally, our customer is stylish, but not overly trendy — and appreciates the value of quality-made products. What can we expect in the coming months? Perhaps some new collar styles or?

Eric Powell: We’ll continue to roll out new fabrics. Those new additions will be a balance of really nice shirting for dress shirts and some unique casual options. I’m particularly excited about the madras we have coming in a few weeks. I have the samples in my office now. They are really great.

Beyond that, we will look at some new collar styles at some point and are testing some options now actually. We will, at some point, jump into some new categories beyond shirting, but we’re taking things one step at a time.

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