It’s not exactly a secret: it’s never been easier to find clothes meant for your specific frame than it is today. Some ambitious companies do this by overloaded its users with choices — What color do you want? What kind of collar do you like? What do you want your buttons made out of? — but custom clothing startup Hall&Madden is a little different. Their mission? To simplify the process of buying stylish, well-fitting dress shirts (and to save its users a few bucks, too).
Here’s Hall&Madden in a nutshell: users can pay a recurring $150 fee in one, two, three, or four-month intervals in exchange for a box of three fitted dress shirts. Sounds simple enough, but the work that goes into making those shirts worth wearing is quite a yarn by itself. A fan of fine clothing, co-founder McGregor Madden noticed that people like him could easily spend an absurd amount of money on dress shirts, and decided to tap into that with partner Richard Hall.
“We reverse engineered people’s favorite shirts like those from Gucci, Burberry, and Hugo Boss,” Madden said. “Then we found out where they were sourcing their products, and managed to undercut those companies by connecting directly with suppliers.” The end result is a box full of shirts made of the same materials, and cut in the same way as shirts that cost considerably more — comparable slim fit shirts with a Hugo Boss label easily run in excess of $100, which can be a tough pill to swallow for stylish dudes on a budget.
But Madden’s involvement in other ventures raises some peculiar questions. He’s also the co-founder of bespoke suit startup Proper Suit (see our previous coverage here), so why not fold this customizable shirt concept into that instead? It would seem like a natural fit — or at least I thought it did — but Madden says that the ultimate goal of the two startups is different despite dealing with similar subjects.
“[Hall&Madden’s] is a very different business model,” he said. “Proper Suit is all about crafting the best suits out of the best fabrics, and it’s very scalable when it comes to people.” That said, the connection between the two can’t be denied. Proper Suit has apparently scaled to the point where Madden can spend more time building out Hall&Madden and its simpler approach, and a considerable chunk of Proper Suit’s revenues will go toward expanding its sister venture.
Unlike Proper Suit, Hall&Madden is geared toward simplicity and convenience for the users — there’s no personal fitting involved like there is with ProperSuit, nor is there even an option to choose the shirts you receive. Instead, Hall&Madden asks users for their neck size, height, weight, and preferred cut, and uses those variables to craft its shirts.
What’s more, the team is fleshing out its ranks with personal stylists to help put together the right kind shirts for these men. The first box that subscribers get is full of the old standbys — a white shirt, a light blue shirt, and a slightly sassier striped number. The response from Hall&Madden’s first batch was very positive despite not having any say in what shirts they got, and the slightly more adventurous (read: it includes a pink shirt) second box was similarly well-received (turns out one guy was displeased with the pink shirt, and got a full refund for it).
Hall&Madden isn’t exactly alone in the custom clothing space — the two co-founders consider Indochino one of their most prominent rivals, and J. Hilburn also does something similar with its own customizable clothing service. Still, both of those services require far more input from the people using the service, and co-founders Hall and Madden hope they can make their mark on a growing market by making the process as dead-simple as possible.