It was 2006, and Heikal Gani and Kyle Vucko, business students at the University of Victoria, were in the market for suits. Both were headed to interviews and conferences, and they needed to dress the part. Neither had bought a suit before, so each wandered into a nearby men’s clothing store.
“The suits I loved were too expensive,” Vucko recalls. “And the ones I could afford didn’t fit well, and the style wasn’t there. Heikal came to me and said he wasn’t resonating with the experience.
“The retail process is tough on guys. We’re objective shoppers. We say, ‘I need this,’ and then we go buy it. And we prefer to do it from our desks.”
That notion gave Vucko and Heikal an idea: create a menswear company that would provide the shopping experience they would like to have. And so, in September 2007, Gani and Vucko launched Indochino, an online menswear company that provides the “modern gentleman” with high-quality attire that fits perfectly. After a 10-minute at-home measurement process, products are hand-tailored and delivered to any part of the world within three weeks.
“We start with the fit and then build the style to taste,” says Vucko, who serves as CEO. “We do it all online to make it convenient. And we make it affordable.”
And while buying clothes online is sometimes a hassle with getting things to fit correctly, that isn’t the case with Indochino. For the first few years, the company’s sales came mainly from word of mouth, thanks to its great customer service, which includes a “perfect fit” promise and offers free alterations.
Additionally, every part of the clothing being purchased is customizable: from the felt behind a suit’s lapel to the lining, the customer is in complete control. Naturally, word quickly spread.
“We had a compelling story that was disrupting the apparel industry,” says Vucko. “No other retailer does what we do. Indochino doesn’t speak to target markets; it speaks to the guy getting dressed.”
Doing things differently has been the driving force behind Indochino. For example, the company adopted a mobile-design strategy.
“More and more people are using mobile devices to visit websites,” says Vucko. “This segment is growing quickly. We looked at all of the biggest providers of mobile converting websites. But we have a tendency to do what’s best for customer, and we invest a lot to ensure a great experience for him. We ultimately decided to maintain full control over all of our processes—from our desktop site, to our iPhone site, to our in-person events—so we can preserve the great experience.”
As a result, Indochino focused on optimizing a mobile design that can also work on a desktop.
“It’s all done from one code,” Vucko says. “Our site is designed to be seen from an iPhone. Other companies have a separate website, a separate experience. Offering the best experience has always been our mission.”
For some less-tech-savvy customers, however, the best experience is an in-person experience, where they can guarantee the measurements are correct and the clothes fit properly.
As a result, Indochino launched its Traveling Tailor pop-up stores in 2012 as a way to engage in a more personal way with customers. For four to seven days, the company rents downtown retail locations in major Canadian and US cities. Indochino then brings in fixtures and creates a traditional retail setting similar to the Apple store—with a simple, clean look and helpful, knowledgeable salespeople ready to answer any questions that the customers might have.
And even with all of these practices in place—from online ordering, to in-person sales, to attracting big-name investors like Steve Nash, who has his own signature collection through the company—Indochino has nowhere to go but up. The men’s apparel industry is a half-trillion-dollar market, and Vucko says there is plenty of room to expand Indochino’s line, as well as grow the pop-up store concept.
“Our vision,” he says, “is to enable a guy to buy an entire custom wardrobe from a single click of a mouse.”