Few companies have disrupted the traditional menswear industry like Stantt, co-founded in 2013 by Kirk Keel and Matt Hornbuckle. With the goal of becoming the middle ground between custom shirts and off-the-rack, Keel and Hornbuckle left their corporate marketing jobs and went to work on developing a line of shirts with a comprehensive sizing structure at a retail price of $98.
Using nearly 200,000 measurements and millions of data points from 3-D body scans, Keel and Hornbuckle created an algorithm that matches a customer to one of 99 unique sizes using just three measurements from your chest, waist, and arm. “In our original data set, we found 99 sizes that fit roughly 95 percent of the male population perfectly, whereas traditional S/M/L/XL sizing fits about 15 percent,” Keel said when we first met him back in 2015.
After initially launching with a direct-to-consumer website, Keel and Hornbuckle quickly discovered their customers wanted to try on the shirts. “What we found over time is when we started doing pop-ups, the guys really liked getting measured and trying on a variety of sizes to figure out their perfect fit,” says Keel. “Brick-and-mortar shops are the last place we thought we would find success in acquiring new customers when we initially launched. But our guy likes to try it on in-store and then return to the site to re-order the product in a different color or style.”
Fast forward to summer 2019 and Stantt is now carried in more than 300 doors, including every Nordstrom store and approximately 180 specialty stores around the country. And the brand’s retail partners are ecstatic about their sell-throughs. Merchants who carry the brand boast doubling and tripling their custom shirt business by giving their customers a new reason to come into the store (and to keep coming back).
In order to be more size-inclusive, Stantt has developed a big-and-tall shirt line that includes an additional 54 sizes catering to that market. Initially established in partnership with Westport Big & Tall, Stantt now carries the big-and-tall line in 10 additional stores and has just inked a deal with DXL.
The brand also offers a lot more options than it first did when it was testing brick-and-mortar. Prices now range to $235; delivery is still seven days. Reacting to customer needs from the initial specialty store partners, the brand has since added new fabrics, a mandarin collar, colored buttons, monogramming, alterations, spread collars, a side pocket and more. “We started with only six fabrics, one collar, and one cuff, and now we are at a myriad of options,” notes Hornbuckle. “Our evolution has been very deliberate and intentional. I’m glad we are able to react quickly to what our customers are asking for.”
Katie McCarthy, one of Stantt’s very first hires who has grown within the company to her current position as national sales director, also credits her relationship with Fred Derring and DLS Outfitters for helping them on the path to growth. “From those first 10 stores we signed at the first two DLS breakfasts, I personally have learned so much from them,” she says. “Like Andy Mallor, Michael Duru, Bruce from Mur-Lee’s, these first customers have taught me so much. We’ve updated and changed some things based on their feedback; it has been a great partnership.
“I will never forget that first meeting in New York with DLS and Fred’s retailers just started taking their shirts off and were wanting to be measured,” she adds. “And then we got to go to Chicago and repeat the meeting, and after that, Andrew Davis was our first store to sign up. We were in shock that stores actually wanted to buy our line. We were super excited, to say the least.”
Former Gitman president John Minahan also played a major role in the brand’s wholesale success. “Getting the stores to commit to carrying 99 shirts for $3,000 was not easy,” he notes. “But once they got going with the product, the shirts sold themselves, and our retail partners are doing very well with them. I initially came onboard with Stantt because I thought it was just cool enough, just techy enough, but not scary. It allowed the stores to bring in something new and interesting that almost created an event around the product. In the end, I was just happy to introduce my old friends to my new friends, and it worked out!”
Where does the brand go from here? Launching at the Park Lane show in New York this month (and a few days later at MRKET) is the brand’s new trouser program, which will include chinos, five-pocket pants, denim and dress trousers offered in a range of sizes with the same fast delivery window as the shirts program. “It’s our biggest launch since we initially started the company,” says Keel. “We already signed on a handful of stores to test the trouser program to make sure it runs smoothly, then we’ll roll it out to all of our retail partners. We think this will eventually be bigger than our shirting; the technology behind making these pants is one of the more remarkable things I’ve seen in menswear.”