In search of a better fit

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Like many startups, Hugh & Crye was born from a frustrating consumer experience — in this case, that “dress shirts should be fitting better,” Philip Soriano says. He and co-founder Pranav Vora found the market for men’s dress shirts to be dominated by linear sizing, a practice that mass manufacturers use to size up or down from a static average. Soriano and Vora saw something wrong with this practice “and decided to do something about it,” developing a unique sizing system that fits a wider range of men’s bodies.

This week on Retail Gets Real, Soriano shares his entrepreneurial journey from corporate finance to men’s fashion retail. Listen to the episode to hear how Hugh & Crye developed their signature line of products.

Hugh & Crye’s customers are young and urban, maturing out of college-centered lifestyles into corporate careers and making different life decisions. “He’s getting rid of his last piece of IKEA furniture,” Soriano says in describing the company’s target audience. Hugh & Crye was initially an e-commerce business; as demand grew and customers showed increased interest in trying on shirts before buying, though, Hugh & Crye opened a physical location in Washington, D.C. 

Philip Soriano (front left) in the recording studio with co-hosts Tony Fontana (back left) and Bill Thorne (right).

Philip Soriano (front left) in the recording studio with co-hosts Tony Fontana (back left) and Bill Thorne (right).

Hugh & Crye has expanded its line to include different styles of shirts and accessories, but growing a small company isn’t easy. Soriano’s biggest fear is failing to scale the business quickly enough or “growing in the wrong way.” Now in its eighth year, Hugh & Crye is still a “bootstrapped” startup — the founders forgo venture capital and are raising funds themselves. “It’s a fine balancing act,” Soriano says of trying to decide where to invest, whether it’s hiring talent, developing new products or acquiring new customers.

Listen to this week’s episode to learn how Soriano and his colleagues grew an idea into a viable business, and subscribe to Retail Gets Real so you won’t miss an episode.

Tony Fontana is one of NRF’s co-hosts on Retail Gets Real. Meet all the co-hosts and learn more about the show.