In a world of start-up culture and agile working, the notion of business attire has shifted. Today, you’re more likely to see the average CEO of a multimillion-dollar company strolling the hallways wearing jeans and a T-shirt rather than a stiff suit and a red ‘power’ tie. It’s a shift that not only signifies a change in the way businesses are run, but also brings into the spotlight an often overlooked wardrobe staple: the classic cotton T-shirt. Enter Son of a Tailor, a Copenhagen start-up that offers a sustainable alternative to ill-fitting, poorly made, mass-produced standard-size T-Shirts. It does so by making every T-shirt one at a time, in a unique size for each customer.
This innovative approach, initiated by the brand’s co-founder and CEO Jess Fleischer, began as a reaction to what he saw as an antiquated clothing industry using ‘outdated production methods’. ‘Nearly all clothing is made using the same mass-production methods as it was 70 years ago; that basically hasn’t changed,’ says Fleischer. With a background in engineering and lean manufacturing, he, along with co-founder Andreas Langhorn, set out to create a company that would allow customers to have bespoke T-shirts made especially to their body measurements.
The entire process is done on the Son of a Tailor website, on which you can customise the design of your T-shirt using a variety of options, including neckline, sleeves, colour, pocket... When you’ve designed your T-shirt, you move on to the sizing process, which Fleischer says they wanted to take less than five minutes. ‘We wanted the sizing process to be easy and accurate first and foremost, so we created an algorithm that could create a body profile of the customer in an intuitive way,’ says Fleischer, referencing the company’s ‘Ideal Size’ algorithm, which creates a unique T-shirt size for each customer using simple input such as your height, weight, age and shoe size.
Further on, a T-Shirt pattern is created and sent to its production site, which is located in Europe to ensure high-standard working conditions, and sewn together by experienced professionals. ‘We create a new size for every new T-shirt we make, so none of our T-Shirts are made from standard sizes’ says Fleischer, referring to the usual four or five standard sizes from other brands. After a quality check in Copenhagen, the T-shirt is sent directly to the customer no matter where they live in the world. ‘We have customers in over 80 countries now, so our T-shirts have definitely seen the world, but our biggest market is London, ’ says Fleischer.
‘A shift from mass production to a made-to-order mindset is something we believe could benefit the clothing industry as a whole’. By having every T-shirt made to order, Son of a Tailor has no warehouse stock of unsold T-shirts. ‘We really wanted to impact the way we think about waste, as a lot of resources go into making a piece of clothing, from the cotton itself to the people sewing the clothes, so it’s important that we’re mindful of this,’ explains Fleischer. ‘The last thing the world needs is another T-shirt company where half the inventory ends up in a landfill somewhere. We produce only when a customer orders a T-shirt from us, never before.’ And it’s an approach that seems to resonate with its customers as well. Return rates are an impressively low 5 per cent, compared to that of its e-commerce counterparts, where return rates of 40 or 50 per cent are not unheard of. ‘Once people have found their perfect fit, they come back for more. We’re always here to help them get the perfect fit nailed, that’s what our business model is all about,’ Fleischer says.
Intent on offering the perfect version of the T-shirt, the brand is also continuously developing new styles, colours and materials, such as long-sleeve T-shirts, seasonal colours and new fabrics including wool. ‘When you’re dealing with something as iconic as the T-shirt it’s all about the details, the curve of the cut, the thread being used, the density of the knit,’ says co-founder Andreas Langhorn. ‘We’re aiming to perfect every last thing.’
Son of a Tailor’s attention to detail extends beyond its design process. When it comes to customer experience, it’s the small differences that make it stand out: ‘I think we’ve gotten used to our clothing being something you just pick off the rack, you forget that it’s actually made by another human being. We want to bridge the connection between the consumer and the people actually making the clothes,’ says Langhorn. ‘This is also why every T-shirt’s hang tag is signed by the person who made it, along with the name of who it’s made for. We think it’s a small gesture that speaks volumes because it lets you know that this is a product that has been made especially for you, which is a rarity these days.’
In a climate where new fashion brands seem to pop up almost on a daily basis, it’s refreshing to see new companies with the bravery to rethink modern clothing production, and if this means a higher-quality product and better working conditions for the people involved, we’re all for it.
Design your own T-shirt, however you see fit, at sonofatailor.com