Chinese clothing manufacturer Dayang Group is making a strategic investment in InStitchu, a startup selling custom tailored suits and other menswear.
At $2.5 million, the round is relatively small, but InStitchu co-CEO James Wakefield said the real reason for taking the money is to deepen the relationship with Dayang. Apparently the manufacturer was already making half of the startup’s suits, but this partnership means InStitchu can hand over even more of its production to Dayang, allowing the InStitchu team to focus on the consumer-facing side of the business.
“We’re in a fortunate position where we didn’t need the funding,” Wakefield said. “That wasn’t really the reason for us doing the deal. It was mainly around our view of Dayang and where they’re taking made-to-measure suiting over the next few years.”
Wakefield added that he expects fewer and fewer customers to buy clothes off-the-rack at department stores, a process that involves constant compromise. If you buy from InStitchu, you can customize the look of the suit, and it’s tailored to your measurements. And if still doesn’t quite fit? InStitchu will pay for alterations, remake the suit or give you a full refund.
It’s not the only startup trying to sell custom suits online — in fact, Dayang Group has already invested $30 million in Indochino. InStitchu’s unique selling points include suits that are made from Australian Merino wool, and Wakefield also touted the company’s showrooms, which he said combine an “old-world tailoring, sort of luxury experience” with InStitchu’s technology. (He’s hoping to introduce more showroom technology, such as virtual mirrors.)
“InStitchu has achieved great success building an incredible brand, a beautiful shopping experience, and a loyal customer base of fans all around the world,” said Dayang Group CEO Dongmei Hu in the funding release. “We’re looking forward to working closely with James, Robin, and the team to help InStitchu create a menswear experience custom-built for the 21st century.”
Wakefield founded the company in Australia back in 2012 with Robin McGowan, who also serves as co-CEO. InStitchu says that last year, its sales increased by 114 percent, the company tripled its staff and it opened a New York City showroom — its first location in the United States. There are plans to expand from its nine current showrooms to 15, with the locations chosen based on customers interest (as measured by activity on the InStitchu website).
“The Dayang investment hasn’t really changed our strategy,” Wakefield said. “It’s still global expansion — that continued omni-channel approach, but also continued showroom rollout.”