Recession buster: $90 custom shirts

Discount luxury is a hot market for one startup business.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)

proper_cloth.03.jpg
Seph Skerritt's shirts are aimed at buyers looking for cut-rate custom fits.
Photos
Startups defying the downturn
Think you have what it takes to start a business during a recession? These 8 entrepreneurs are giving it a shot, with mixed results.

(Fortune Small Business) -- How can you avoid losing your shirt in this market? By paying less for it.

Last fall Seph Skerritt, 28, began selling custom-tailored men's dress shirts online for $90 apiece through his startup, Proper Cloth. "I didn't expect the economy to tank in September," he says from his Manhattan studio. "But everybody still needs great business attire. You can get that here without declaring bankruptcy."

Skerritt started off small, selling about 300 of his bespoke shirts from October to March, mostly through word of mouth. But thanks to a recent infusion of cash - $300,000 in venture capital - he plans to scale up his advertising fast. He aims to sell 15,000 shirts this year, which would bring in more than $1.3 million in revenues.

Ryan Tseng, CEO of WiPower in Gainesville, Fla., was tickled with his first Proper Cloth purchase: a blue-striped shirt with pink collar accents.

"It looks sweet," he says. "The fit is better than any other shirt I've owned, and I've been to several custom tailors."

So what could cramp Skerritt's style? Dressing-room loyalists.

"This is a hard sell," says Rob Hitt, 31, founder of I Surrender Records in Brooklyn. "Every fabric is different; you can't know how it feels until you put it on. If you don't feel good in it, it doesn't matter if the shirt fits."  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.




QMy dream is to launch my own business someday. Now that it's time to choose a major, I'm debating if I should major in entrepreneurial studies or major in engineering to acquire a set of skills first. Is majoring in entrepreneurship a good choice? More
Get Answer
- Spate, Orange, Calif.

More Galleries
A cheapskate's guide to tech From ebooks to phone service, here are some tips for living your digital life on the cheap. More
2015 Mustang's asphalt-peeling power goes modern The new Ford Mustang has been upgraded and updated to compete globally - but never fear, it's still a monster. More
15 top executives with $1 salaries Some CEOs and founders agree to salaries of just $1 a year. But once goodies like bonuses and stock options are added in, some of those executives end up taking home many millions of dollars a year. More
Worry about the hackers you don't know 
Crime syndicates and government organizations pose a much greater cyber threat than renegade hacker groups like Anonymous. Play
GE CEO: Bringing jobs back to the U.S. 
Jeff Immelt says the U.S. is a cost competitive market for advanced manufacturing and that GE is bringing jobs back from Mexico. Play
Hamster wheel and wedgie-powered transit 
Red Bull Creation challenges hackers and engineers to invent new modes of transportation. Play

Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.