Sick of paying ridiculous prices for your denim, but still want to seem cool? Worry not! Founder of Mott & Bow, Alejandro Chahin, bleeds indigo and has disrupted the denim supply chain by providing high-quality jeans at an affordable price. Some would say it's in his genes, but he believes it’s in his jeans.
Honduran, charismatic yet shy, Alejandro is the visionary behind Mott & Bow, an online denim fashion brand based in New York City. With a college major in Industrial Engineering from University of Michigan, Alejandro’s switch to the fashion world was no accident. “I saw the competitive advantage I had because of my history with the family business in denim and being involved with its supply chain. So with that expertise and with what I believe I can do with the market here, I wanted to start the company.”
“I liked the nonchalant, cool spirit the NoHo neighborhood embodied and we wanted to give the brand a New York feel.”
Mott & Bow is named after the two major streets (Mott and Bowery) in New York’s hip neighborhood, Nolita, where RADICHE headquarters also reside. Launched in February 2014, Mott & Bow caters to both men and women and sells premium denim at an affordable price solely online. “I started seeing a lot of direct to consumer brands catering to an audience by delivering a good product at a fair price.” With a family background in the denim industry since 1982, Alejandro had a competitive advantage within the supply chain and decided to remove the middlemen (retailers) and sell directly from his factory in Honduras to consumers in the U.S. “The denim industry doesn’t have a standard bandwidth size, so sometimes you will be a 30 or 31 with bands in the waist. To solve and minimize that friction for the customer, we copied in a way what Warby Parker was doing. We started sending an alternative size of the same jeans to check for fit, which could be returned for free.” Talk about a free trial period! Oh, and did we forget to mention that they are extremely comfortable? Zip up boys!
“I believe in the power of branding.”
As an e-commerce business, having cutting edge technology and an in-house developer are at the forefront. Their best performing marketing channel is Facebook and they are highly active in remarketing to online visitors. Their free trial program helps new customers purchase the product since there are no pop-ups or retail stores to try the product. “Our biggest focus is telling a story of our core value and differentiating our brand. Customers are very happy with the product, and the way I look at satisfaction is when a customer sees a product, tries it on and perceives a value in it. If he feels he is getting a bargain, he will purchase. My job is to keep that perceived value as high as possible and the price point to be below that. This is how we maintain and retain customers.”
“You really need to have something special to enter such a saturated market. There are too many brands out there; it’s a complex industry.”
Alejandro tells us how “there are a thousand other denim and clothing brands, so figuring out how to get the word out about your brand and what you are doing is the biggest challenge we have faced.” The first year for Mott & Bow was also a tough one since the numbers were not as expected, but Alejandro kept believing in himself and pushed to keep going.
Not always a fashionista, Alejandro got his MBA from NYU Stern in 2013. He was also the Founder of a previous venture called ThreadMatcher, which was a spin-off Pinterest where users were encouraged to curate images of the clothes they love and discover other similar styles. Realizing early on that it would take years before seeing a revenue stream, they closed down shop, or in this case closed down the domain.
Mentorship & Advice
Building a team for many startup companies makes or breaks you. The best way to go about it? Through connections and like minded people in the space. It took Alejandro three months to find one team member, but at the end of the day, you are only as strong as your team. For those looking to start their own fashion brand, just do it. If you have a passion and feel that you can have a competitive advantage and relate to an audience, execute. “Too many people talk about it. Study it and then act.”
Self-funded, Mott & Bow is going to be adding new product categories in the near future. “We believe there is a true demand for what we are doing in jeans in other basics, so we are going to go into shirts with the same proposition.” Alejandro will be sourcing fabrics from some of the best mills in the world, removing the middleman and offering t-shirts at a fair price. Talk about true product value!
Interested in purchasing a pair of jeans for yourself or your man? Use promo code: radiche for a 20% discount. Alternatively, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to meet Alejandro or pick his brain regarding e-commerce and the denim industry.
Photo courtesy of Mott & Bow.