MIZZEN+MAIN’S CEO ON THE GROWTH OF THE BRAND AND THE IMPORTANCE OF RETAIL

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Kevin Lavelle

Kevin Lavelle

Coming up on its four-year anniversary, Mizzen+Main has seen staggering growth in its business since launching in July 2012 with the brand’s signature woven shirts made of performance knit fabrics.

But it wasn’t until the brand advertised on Tim Ferriss’ podcast, The Tim Ferriss Show, in the beginning of 2015 when their business really took off. “For most of 2015 we were sold out across the board,” says Kevin Lavelle, CEO and founder of Mizzen+Main. “By the end of Q1 of 2015 we were in about 50 retail doors. At the end of 2015 we hit about 160 doors. Just last month we crossed 210 stores. When we introduced our spring/summer 2016 collection it shipped to our retail doors in January and we launched online on February 2. In one day we did half of our 2013 revenue. The uptake from our existing customers was huge. This was not new customers coming on board; this is our existing customers jumping on the new products.”

The year 2015 was definitely a growth year for the brand both in terms of revenue and in categories. In September the brand introduced a polo and by October Mizzen+Main launched a sweater and a pull-over. The biggest additions to the mix, though, were chinos. “We launched chinos in our pop-up at The Refinery Hotel in Manhattan on Black Friday then on Cyber Monday we launched online at full-price,” says Lavelle. “We came close to selling out of our first round of chinos entirely.”

This year, the brand does not plan on introducing any new categories but will be working on developing new fabrics for its polo and henley. Lavelle is also focused on the brand’s retail strategy this year. “Wholesale accounts for about 20 percent of our total sales mix, while 80 percent of our business is done on our e-commerce site,” says Lavelle. “Our goal for all of 2015 was 100 retail doors and we hit that in June. We continue to learn from the industry, none of us in the brand leadership come from a menswear background, but we found that we are driving a lot of traffic to our retail partners.”

Mizzen+MainLavelle also stressed the fact that the brand does not compete with its retail accounts on its own website. “A lot of retail and brand relationships are contentious right now since retailers are being undercut online all of the time,” stresses Lavelle. “To us, a sale of a Mizzen+Main product to a customer is a great thing, wherever that happens. We have a bigger footprint online than our retail partners but it also takes a long time to build up a retail distribution network. Stores want to make sure you are going to stick around and that their customers are going to like it. But it’s worth the wait. A new account that we just signed got their first shipment in the middle of April and they sold 100 pieces (their entire first order) in their opening weekend. We helped hype it and they had a great opening release strategy and they’ve already put in two follow-up orders.”

So what’s next for the brand? The brand will be launching its fall/winter “Election Collection,” inspired by the current insanity of this year’s presidential election, later this year. And, in 2017, the brand will be launching four seasonal releases for the first time. “Staging seasonal releases really came from our customers that were excited about the new product, but didn’t have any newness for six months or longer,” adds Lavelle. “That’s a big part of our 2017 changes. We are also working on developing a blazer. The goal would be to make an unstructured, machine washable blazer, but there is still a lot of work to be done on the development.”

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