This month’s Guest Blog is written by David Hathiramani, CEO of A Suit That Fits, the world’s first online ‘Bespoke for all’ tailoring platform. David talks about the importance of having a clear purpose and sticking to it and the danger of ‘diluting’ it.
A Suit That Fits started in 2006 when I saw one of my friends wearing a suit tailored by an amazing tailor in Kathmandu. It had a huge pair of flares, and it was three button. I knew that I wouldn’t want a 3 button flared suit, so the idea of designing your own style online came about. We became the world’s first online tailoring platform. Our initial view was very much, “Why would anyone get anything off the peg if you could get it made bespoke for you?”.
We believed in “Bespoke for all”. This was our brand promise and found that showing you have an authentic and credible sense of purpose – a reason ‘why’ you exist beyond the desire to make profit- drives commercial value in an increasingly competitive world.
We carried on in this vein, rapidly scaling. We started to realise that our customers loved the design process online, but also wanted the comfort of coming in to see someone experienced to guide them through the almost infinite styling combinations.
This process did a couple of things:
- Our customers spent a lot more (almost double) just by having the trust in us personally.
- Our customers went away delighted without fail. We refined the fit of the garments to their ideal expectations through fittings. This is something you simply cannot do online-only.
Dampening “Bespoke for all”
As the business grew, there were many different angles that we could take the business to, which obscured our purpose and who we really were. Were we a fashion brand? Were we luxury? Were we a utility brand? Should we be international? Should we be making standard fit garments?
Looking back, it is obvious that we did know who we were, but the external people who were influencing us didn’t really get it. We listened too much, and didn’t stick to what we were really about – “Bespoke for all”.
This led to a period of us trying to chase our tail and not focusing on our core purpose. Our strength has always been that we saw the world differently to everyone else in fashion. We realised from personal experience that bespoke was just better. The result being the exact style that was right for you, with the fit that makes you look the best. These were the terms that we should have been competing on. We never wanted to be a small luxury business making bespoke suits which is how a lot of external people saw us. We always wanted to be a game-changing business changing the way people shop for good.
Reinvigorating “Bespoke for all”
In 2014, we started to think about scaling up the business rapidly again. We were lucky enough to attract a pair of fantastic Angel Investors (Simon Calver and Gi Fernando) invested, but more importantly sat on our board. This helped us realise our core strengths again.
Together, we realised that what we had built up was a fantastic platform, that anyone (once trained) could utilise to deliver bespoke garments and delight customers. We created a model which would turn A Suit That Fits into the host of many sub-businesses who would use the tools we had created to scale their own local business. These sub-businesses are called Fit Experts.
This had the potential to crack the local service delivery problem at a low cost. This is one of the big hurdles to “Bespoke for all”.
We have now successfully raised funding for this self-propelling bespoke delivery network, and are looking forward to the future and removing all other hurdles, ensuring that anyone can go bespoke.
My advice from all of this is to stick relentlessly to the reason why you exist – your purpose, and it will guide you in all of the decisions you have to make in the future.