Maybe it’s just me, but it seems like we’re in the middle of a very exciting time period for menswear. Small companies like Kent Wang, Sam Hober, Howard Yount and Vanda are creating quite a stir with wonderful products at great prices. Website-driven companies like Ratio, Proper Cloth, and Ledbury are changing the way we think about shirts, and now we’re seeing folks like Beckett and Robb and Proper Suit push the limits of what made-to-measure can be. Other companies like Warby Parker and Gustin also are helping bring high quality products down to very accessible levels.
On that note, I recently had the pleasure of speaking to Manuel Rappard, founder of a company called RPMWEST. Like many San Franciscans, Manuel worked in the tech field for a number of years; however, his interest in clothing eventually led him leave his job at Google and try to create something different. Of course, “different” is getting more and more difficult to achieve in the menswear market but I found his business model intriguing.
RPMWEST is taking a concept we’ve seen before but applying it to something new: raw selvage denim. They’re using what could be referred to as the “Warby Parker” approach and sending each customer three different pairs of denim to try on, and offering free returns on all the pairs that don’t fit perfectly. This sounds very compelling to me as raw denim is something that is notoriously difficult to size correctly, especially when buying online.
The home try-on idea is interesting, but what really got my attention is that, similar to Gustin, they are offering high-end raw selvage denim (in this case, 13 oz. red selvage denim from a well-known Japanese mill) at an attractive pricepoint of $95. The jeans are produced in the fair city of San Francisco. There are currently two fits that look to fit comfortably into the “slim-straight” and “tapered” categories. The styling looks to be minimal and subdued, which is generally considered as a major plus.
Their kickstarter campaign begins today and if the company reaches their goal of $50,000 then they will be able to implement their home try-on program. I should make it clear that I am not yet a backer of their kickstarter and I have no firsthand experience with the product. Nonetheless, it does seem to be an attractive concept and I’m excited to see where it goes.