Founder Interview: 16Stitches.com
16Stitches.com is an online custom clothier for men specialising in high quality bespoke shirts. The brand aims to fill in the gap where the generic shirts don’t normally fit adequately and tailored shirts cost more than what the average person is willing to pay. A swanky website allows and guides consumers to self measure and select their shirts.
Who is the team behind 16stitches.com and how did the idea come to be?
16 Stitches.com is an online custom clothier specialising in high quality custom shirts for men. The website allows users all over the world to style their own made-to-measure shirts from a range of high quality fabrics (sourced from mills across the world) with extensive detailing like monogrammed initials and button hole threads at a price cheaper than off the rack brands. The company was started by Punit Chokhani (Age – 31) and his wife Priyanka Chokhani (Age – 28) in June 2014.
Punit : As a institutional equity analyst at one of india’s top 5 investment banks, meeting CEO’s and global fund managers was like daily affair at the office . Thus, dressing well was like part of the job. However, as any typical Indian man, I was nowhere close to having a chiseled body; which meant buying ill-fitted yet expensive off the rack shirts, standing in queues to even enter shopping malls or going through those multiple trials with my local tailor.
We realised how common this problem was and how marked up the industry had always been. Removing the middle man and offering that quality directly to the consumer coupled with convenience and great customer service at, at least half the price compared to brands like Thomas Pink etc seemed like a big opportunity us.
Online shopping for clothes has always been based on general sizes, where does the need for customisation fit in?
Most men have great difficulty in fitting into the typical standard sizes. While a good shirting brand does provide quality, the size is not always appropriate, for example, either the sleeves land up being too long or the shirt flares up like a balloon when you tuck it in. This is because, these shirts are made for the standard body types, thus, fitting the most of us terribly. On the other hand, your family tailor would very well understand your fit, body type but the hassle of explaining to him what you exactly want, the quality of work and the multiple trials tire you down.
Asking consumers to measure themselves is a new habit. What have you learnt while making the process easier?
Men in India have become fashion conscious and experimental. At the same time, there seems to be a transition from quantity to quality.
We offer that quality with the convenience at a price that is unmatchable. The customer loyalty in our business is extremely high because once the exercise of providing measurements is done, ordering a custom shirt is matter of minutes.
Measuring yourself or shirt is not a big deal at all (as oppose to what people think or rather, use to).
Simplified videos and pictures make it very simple and convenient and the response, even when we had just launched was extremely encouraging.
What happens once I place an order? Do you keep the tailors in-house?
Once the user places an order, an order sheet is generated which is thoroughly checked before production. The same is confirmed with the customer post which, the production commences.
The first step involves making a pattern for the customer as per the measurements provided
Post which, the fabric and trims are cut as per the specifications mentioned in the order sheet.
The above two are tagged with the customers name and sent into stitching.
Finishing is the most important step in the process which involves quality control checks and making sure the shirt is as per customer requirements.
The product is then packed and shipped
The entire process is carried out in a factory(similar to any other branded shirt manufacturer). We use specialised machines for fusing, buttoning and finishing.
What are your customers saying about the experience? Who is your typical customer?
The customers are enjoying the product and more so, the experience of creating it with such convenience.
We cater to a wide audience – the aspirational Indian which could mean IT/Finance professionals to Corporate CEO’s, Bankers, Lawyers and business owners or NRI’s
What are your future plans for expansion?
The most exciting part of our business model is that, it has no scalability ceiling.
We aim at becoming a global menswear brand with major focus towards bespoke quality products at boldly lower prices
What is your one tip for aspiring entrepreneurs?
The title of the book “Stay Hungry, stay Foolish” is apt for entrepreneurs ! At the same, do not loose patience and believe in yourself.