Last week Original Stitch, a service that lets you order customized shirts online using a sort of 3D preview (see how here), opened to the Japanese market. This week we had a chance to speak with CEO and founder Jin Koh (of Bleu Flamme, the San Francisco company that runs the service) here in Tokyo to find out a little more about how its doing.
I was curious to hear from him that the the shirts are actually made in a factory here in Japan. Koh didn’t give me too many details, but emphasized that their focus on a quality product and beautiful packaging – even at a higher production cost – was key if they were going to deliver quality to customers. But even so, the price is more than competitive as he explains:
This shirt is a $160 shirt if you get it off the shelf, and you can get it off the shelf with this experience because we have no retail stores. And everything is made on demand – there’s no inventory, no warehouse, therefore we can pass on a lot of savings to the customer.
The packaging is indeed very sharp looking (pictured above), and it’s certainly something I wouldn’t mind getting in the mail if I wasn’t a blogger who only wears pajamas . In the US their main competitors are IndoChino (suits, but they also sell shirts) and Blank Label. Koh is very encouraged by the exposure they’ve gotten here in Japan over the last week since announcing the service here, and he figures they are already the number one player after their closed beta. They’ve had assistance from Tokyo-based InSprout in localization, and they’re pleased with the initial traction that they’ve gotten here as a result.
Original Stitch is comprised of 12 people right now, and Koh is looking ahead to a future for the company that could go far beyond just shirts:
I see us as a technology company and not an e-commerce company, because what you see on our site today – shirts are just the first product. And I think if you ask me the plan for the next two years, soon you will see a website and pick out a product, and instead of seeing a product picture and a buy button, you’ll see a picture and a customize button. […] If users take the time to create something, then it means they’re more likely to buy it. That shows in our conversion rate which is three times that of regular e-commerce. This is not just a product off the shelf. This is a product you have customized.
They’re taking a very data-driven approach to growth, trying to build as many users as possible and then converting them into paying users. It will be interesting to watch how the company evolves from here, and we look forward to watching how their business unfolds (pun intended). Check out their promotional video below, which features Inoko Toshiyuki, president of TeamLab.
Sorry that’s not true. I don’t wear pajamas. ↩