[THE INVESTOR] “Customizing” is one of the buzzwords for the fashion industry this year as more and more people value personal taste. Men are no exception.
“Male customers are searching for their individual styles. We target men from 25 to 45 years old who are looking to customize their wardrobe and get easier access to tailor-made attire,” said Suitable joint representative Shin Yo-sup during an interview with The Investor.
Suitable CEO Shin Yo-sup (Yoon Yeun-jung/The Investor)
The fashion startup focuses on R&D to create trendy designs and optimized fits. What makes Suitable different from other ventures is that it emphasizes the essentiality of designs while embedding tailor-service value on an e-commerce platform.
It commercialized its tailor service online in 2015 to fulfill the needs of customers who are interested in customizing their own trendy designer clothes -- formal suits to casual business outfits. There are not many fashion startups that simultaneously handle ready-to-wear designed products and tailor services.
Suitable’s signature items, designed by joint representative designer Ahn Ji-soo, are oversized looks. In particular, over-fitted shirts that have drop shoulder silhouettes account for 80 percent of its sales.
Celebrities are also flocking to Suitable, with the likes of entertainer Yoo Jae-suk, actor Uain, music artist Henry and numerous K-pop stars, along with popular athletes. Suitable now possesses data of around 2 million customers.
KangNam and Henry (Suitable)
To add another technology layer to its business, Suitable is now working on a “smart online sizing“ program, which will be commercialized within the next two years. With this tool, customers can get recommendations of optimized clothing just by filling out information such as height, weight and favorite styles.
“Through our smart online sizing tool, we are able to provide more customized garments including coats, shirts and pants,” said Shin who used to work in E-Land group’s strategic intelligence department. “The information accumulated can be used as big data for first-time customers and also for our existing customers.”
Additionally, Suitable is developing patterns and designs to provide the service to female consumers since an increasing number of them are requesting tailor services. Some of ready-to-wear products for ladies started being available on the online platform from F/W season in 2018.
Suitable is now working on an R&D project with government funds amounting to up to 50 million won. It is aiming to register its own patents regarding the design and patterns created with its high-tech tools by collaborating with other firms.
This will help get more investment while at the same time prevent copycats.
“One of our oversized series that was popular during S/S season in 2017 was copied by retailers, both online and offline, in just three weeks,” said Shin. “It’s a pity that there are no legal means to prevent this or get compensation from those who copied our designs.”
The CEO is now turning overseas to generate more business. In February, he will visit Vietnam. Suitable has been heading overseas based on the support of the Korea Institution of Startup and Entrepreneurship Development and Lotte since last year.
“We were selected as one of the blue chips among hundreds of competitors for this program,” said Shin. He added that by expanding overseas, Suitable hopes to grow faster, and also scale up.
In 2018, Suitable grew 280 percent in terms of sales, and without getting in debt. It is seeking to extend its profit to 2 billion won (US$1.80 million) this year.
By Yoon Yeun-jung(firstname.lastname@example.org)