Seph Skeritt was tired with his ill-fitting buttoned shirts and the time and effort that he took to try on, purchase, then maybe return a shirt from brick and mortar retail. In 2007, he had a chance to bought his first bespoke shirt in Shanghai during a summer internship while he was at MIT Sloan. The year after, he founded Proper Cloth as an online shop that specialize on online custom-made shirt for men.
The experience that Skeritt had when he ordered his first custom-shirt changed his perspective. The end product fitted him flawlessly and he wishes to share the to the larger male population. Unfortunately, the measuring process for custom-shirt when done by an untrained person will results in ill-fitting shirt. Regardless of providing a video on how to use the measuring tape accordingly, the chance of wrong measurement is high and thus will increase the return product velocity.
With his engineering background, Skeritt created a proprietary software called Smart Sizes where customers will be asked 11 questions that requires no measuring tape at all, such as how tall are you, what is your weight, how far one’s belly protruded, your ethnicity, etc. Combined with 20,000 body types, the proprietary recommendation engine ensures perfect fit even for first time user. The company allows one-time remake for first time buyer, who is required to input all the measurement differences that he prefers, which in turn will be fed into his profile as well as the sample pool. Thus, improving the software for better recommendation in the future.
After a customer answer the Smart Size measurement tool, customer could choose from more than 400 fabrics. Afterwards, Proper Cloth system will automatically create a CAD of the garment pattern according to the customer Smart Size profile to its manufacturing partner in Malaysia. Proper Cloth showed the progress of the making of the shirt in detail, even to the minutes until cutting and sewing will take place. The whole process from a customer click the buy button until he receives a shirt takes three to four weeks.
By 2020, the global menswear industry is projected to reach nearly $33 billion, which is 14% higher from $29 billion in 2015, according to Euromonitor International. With a price range around $100, Proper Cloth targets professionals who values well fitted dress shirt without the hassle of trying on in store or returning ill-fitting shirt from online retailer with off the shelves sizing.
By 2013, the company inked $1 million revenue. The company also has been profitable and growing rapidly with healthy margin between 30% to 50%. Proper Cloth is not VC backed, and thus is not pressured to pursue hypergrowth. Nevertheless, as Skeritt look for options to expands his sale, he worried that too much advertisement would cheapen the brand. In December 2016, the company opened a 12,000-square-foot showroom (but all purchase must be done online) in SoHo as an effort to increase the brand awareness.