Custom men’s clothing company J. Hilburn is expanding its product line to suits today and raised a $5 million C round from Bridgescale Partners and existing investor Battery Ventures. That brings the total capital invested in the Dallas startup to $12 million. The funds will be used to accelerate its development of new products and as working capital for clothing inventory.
J. Hilburn started out with men’s dress shirts, but soon expanded to pants, sweaters, and more casual wear. The company takes a unique hybrid approach to sales, employing a direct sales force of 1,000 “style advisers” who visit customers at their homes or offices for consultations and fittings. That sales army is growing fast. At the beginning of the year, there were only 625 style advisers. More recently, the company launched online sales, which makes it easier to move that relationship can move from offline to online.
The company acts as both manufacturer and retailer, cutting out middle layers of retail distribution and the related markups. J. Hilburn’s suits, for instance, will be manufactured in Portugal in the same factory where Armani and Zegna suits are made, with the same fabrics. But instead of paying $1,700 for a Zegna suit, a similar J. Hilburn suit will cost about $800.
The company is growing at a nice clip. “We are running 20% ahead on plan,” says CEO Hil Davis. The plan was to hit $20 million in sales this year, up from $8 million last year. Now, Davis expects revenues to be between $20 million and $25 million.
The average sales per customer is also going up. Davis expects the average to be between $500 and $600 per customer this year, up from $400 in 2010, $323 in 2009, and $212 in 2008. The company has an iPad app in the works designed as point-of-sale system for the style advisers to help them sell even more. As a special promotion, anyone who registers online today will get a $20 credit.