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Apr 12, 2017
By Brian Trunzo
We sat down with attorney-turned-designer-turned WGSN senior menswear editor Brian Trunzo, to talk about what you need to know if you want to start your own menswear label. Brian started out his professional career practicing law but blogged about menswear on the side. Realising that the world of law wasn’t for him, he quit his job, taught himself retail and opened a menswear store in SoHo. He eventually separated from the business and started freelancing for brands as a creative consultant, assisting with various aspects of the retail process- there isn’t anything about the product, sales and consumer journey that he doesn’t know.
A typical day at WGSN can see him going from press previews, to checking his curated feed to see what menswear news has broken overnight, to store visits around the city.
WGSN contributor Cassandra Mitrani caught up with him to find out his expert tips on launching your own menswear brand:
Think about your market
When launching a menswear line, your customer is key. Consumers tend to look at products out of necessity, thinking about what they need and what they’ll use- so put them first. While womenswear tends to be more adventurous when it comes to newness, menswear consumers are more traditional, so a little more handholding is needed to guide them to newer designs. In addition to thinking about your consumer in terms of design, it’s also important to think about them in terms of where you plan to sell your product. In an ideal world, when launching a brand you’d be able to open a few stores and have a seamlessly integrated e-commerce platform, but chances are you don’t have an infinite amount of money to do this on top of launching a brand. Allocating resources efficiently is necessary when starting out.
The Internet is a great resource for finding inspiration. You can find things never knew existed and be inspired by content that you didn’t know was out there. Some of Brian’s favourite accounts to look for inspiration are Daniel Arsham, Andreas Aresti, and Madbury Club, as well as Street Etiquette and High Snobiety. Brian has a soft spot for Tumblr (it’s where he got his blogging start and teamed up with the menswear community), Instagram has become that new community now though. However, a word of warning with Instagram, everyone has the same amount of access as you, so there’s bound to be overlap as people see and are inspired by the same things.
Formal and informal research matters. While it’s important to scour the Internet to keep an eye on the latest trends and stay up-to-date on retail news, being out in the field doing market research is crucial. Trade shows are one of the best places to conduct this kind of field research. For menswear, Brian recommended checking out Liberty Fair for top new brands and the environments created at the shows, as well as Capsule, which does a great job of bringing emerging and under-the-radar brands to light. Once you’ve conducted your research, creating mood boards can are a great way to keep you focused on your vision as you develop and create your line.
The menswear market is significantly less saturated than womenswear, making it easier to stand out and gain the spotlight when you achieve something amazing. Despite this, it’s still important to stay true to yourself and develop your personal story. Brian explained two ways to make your business model different: the first is to find a void in the marketplace and fill it. The second is to have a unique perspective on the world, and harnessing that to create your brand and find success. Authenticity is key, and when it comes to brand aesthetic you’ll want to be aware of current trends but avoid chasing a look that isn’t yours or you’re going to fail.
With the amount of content on social media, it can be hard to stand out as more than noise in a sea of people trying to “make it”. When it comes to setting yourself apart from everyone else, you’ll want to place your product with personalities and brand ambassadors that represent your vision. These people should appreciate your product while having enough reach to give you exposure. If they like your product, chances are their followers will like it as well. Keep in mind that while menswear Instagrammers play a role in providing brand exposure, menswear customers tend to be more distrusting of celebrity influencer style and tend not to drive brands in the same way the womenswear market does. Also, feel free to bypass any digital channels that don’t feel right for your brand. While you need to be on social, you don’t necessary need to be on every communication channel out there- is your consumer on Snapchat or Instagram or Facebook? And where are your resources best served to bring the highest ROI?
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