Business Inspiration: Selling Direct-to-Consumer Custom Fashion


When you see 1 of Ramon Smothers’ custom made-built satisfies, there is no mistaking it for an off-the-rack structure. As the owner of Legacy Lapels, he’s made a organization out of producing individuals look fantastic.

Centered in Houston, the enterprise lets prospects design and style fits for a fraction of the price of classic bespoke tailoring, and the inspiration driving the strategy was easy.

“I seriously appreciate how I feel when I have on suits,” suggests Smothers. “If I can make individuals really feel how I truly feel when I place on a match, I’m information.”

But Legacy Lapels’ viewers shifted after just a 12 months in small business, and the corporation observed a new marketplace the place its lower prices and personalization introduced in surprising clients.

Offering prospects a alternative

“When I began the model, I preferred to be exclusive in the matters that are made available,” suggests Smothers.

Smothers sells the conventional selections, but he constructed his company all over atypical materials with eye-catching hues, together with emerald, plum, burgundy, gentle yellow and powder blue. Providing buyers independence to style and design their own variations was something Legacy Lapels aimed to do from its inception, and it is paying out off.

“I’ve observed that folks arrive to me for that,” suggests Smothers.

And even though Legacy Lapels retains its emphasis on satisfies, the company has expanded its offerings to include tuxedos, evening meal jackets and custom-created footwear.

Ramon Smothers sits on a stool wearing a green pinstriped suit.

Ramon Smothers wears a single of his designer suits. (Photograph courtesy of Legacy Lapels)

Falling into the marriage sector

Smothers to begin with expected his perfect client to be “vogue forward” and seeking for organization-focused statement parts, but he shortly recognized that his buyers were being trending towards engaged partners.

The company’s nontraditional models have captivated a selection of newlyweds, these as LGBTQ+ men and women browsing for style that demonstrates their id, which includes fits that are strongly gendered or loosely fitting on the gender spectrum.

“Gender norms have shifted noticeably,” Shelley Brown — senior trend and elegance editor with The Knot All over the world, a media company that specializes in wedding ceremony preparing — reported by email. “This is generally a terrific possibility for nonbinary people hunting for suiting without having conventional masculine or female fits.”

Now various decades on, Smothers is partnering with marriage ceremony planners to attain a lot more partners and consistently updates his Instagram with pictures of clients’ nuptial outfits.

Saving customers money although setting up associations

Utilizing a immediate-to-client business design that cuts out the go-in between, Legacy Lapels supplies fashion without the regular markup. Sidestepping a brick-and-mortar storefront, the corporation avoids passing together overhead fees like storage for premade satisfies.

Smothers also is effective carefully with vendors to ensure buyers get the good quality they want. “I operate instantly with the persons who truly tailor and slice and make my fits. And I’m in interaction with these individuals day by day for each customer,” suggests Smothers.

He satisfies with consumers in particular person to have an understanding of their ideas, consider measurements and focus on materials — a tactic that is hard for many firms to replicate. This financial commitment in bringing customers’ thoughts to daily life has led to solid client associations and builds believe in, suggests Smothers.

What other companies can master from Legacy Lapels

Be clear about what you are giving

The vital to specialized niche organizations is to fill a need in a marketplace and differentiate yourself from your competitors, suggests Lori Martinek, operator of the advertising and marketing and community relations agency ED/c Companions and a mentor with Score, a nonprofit supplying tiny-firms mentorship.

But really do not stop at the noticeable. Sector how your items make buyers come to feel as properly.

“In this case, Ramon is presenting decision. He’s providing customized. He’s giving fashion,” claims Martinek. “And as he would likely tell you, empowerment.”

Offering selection within just a market can aid small firms compete in opposition to large-box stores. Legacy Lapels accomplishes this by means of a range of shade and cloth choices, supplying shoppers something that more substantial rivals can not present.

Come across the audience that values your solution

Smothers advises small businesses to find individuals who value your product or service and follow by means of with persistence. He functions to hold his solution in entrance of his goal audience on Instagram, to remind them of the worth it adds to their life.

But not all people will worth your solution. According to Martinek, if you know your item is quite market, then “you improved know how to uncover that specialized niche consumer who wants and is ready to shell out for it.”

Term will get all around town and can provide in new clients

“A great deal of my company arrives from term of mouth,” states Smothers. “And which is priceless.”

Not all of his customers know they are in the sector for a personalized accommodate until eventually they listen to about the company from a single of his shoppers.

Martinek states that satisfied and repeat buyers are extra financially rewarding, and that “often those men and women will come to be your ideal ambassadors and salespeople” to carry in new shoppers.


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