Detroit’s Ash & Anvil Offers Clothes for Hard-to-Fit Shorter Guys
If your body type deviates from “standard” proportions for your age or gender, it can be challenging to find clothes that fit off the rack.
That frustration has led to a new, Detroit-based online clothing store for “shorter guys” called Ash & Anvil. Its founders hope to get it off the ground in partnership with Venture for America through an IndieGoGo campaign that runs through next Wednesday.
Ash & Anvil came about after its founders, Eric Huang and Steven Mazur, were constantly disappointed by the clothes they found in stores. “I’m 5’6”, and Eric is 5’8”, and it was tough finding clothes that fit right,” Mazur said. “We talked to other friends on the shorter end, and they had the same problem. There are roughly 50 million men in the United States—one in four—that are 5’8” or under. It’s a tough market to fit well.”
Huang and Mazur are Venture for America fellows who met in Detroit in 2013 while working at SocialProof, a startup in the Detroit Venture Partners portfolio. Once they realized they wanted to go into business together, they set about creating their inventory. Rather than trying to find existing clothing lines that fit men with smaller proportions, the pair decided to design Ash & Anvil’s products from scratch.
The IndieGoGo campaign centers around what Ash & Anvil calls its everyday shirt, which will be the first item it offers for sale. What differentiates Ash & Anvil shirts are their shorter length, narrower collar, and slimmer, shorter sleeves. It’s a cleaner look—the tweaked measurements mean the man wearing Ash & Anvil isn’t swimming in excess material. The long-sleeve, button-down shirts are expected to retail for about $70. Eventually, Mazur and Huang hope to sell accessories as well as clothes.
“We want to build the go-to brand for the shorter guy,” Mazur said. “The long-term plan is to offer everything, but that takes time. We’re starting with shirts, finding the perfect fit, and then eventually we’ll offer a wide variety of choices.” Next up after shirts: pants.
Huang and Mazur are currently in Philadelphia as part of the Venture for America accelerator, a three-month program offering a place to live and a stipend while Ash & Anvil solidifies its plans. Mazur said Venture for America also provides “a ton of support and resources,” and while there is no up-front investment made, the accelerator class has a chance to pitch Venture for America’s seed fund at the program’s conclusion.
The pair plan to return to Detroit to launch Ash & Anvil—in fact, the company name is supposed to represent Detroit’s manufacturing legacy as well as empower its clientele to embrace their measurements—because they feel it’s a good place to start a company. After all, they’ve already seen several of their Venture for America colleagues start successful businesses in the Motor City.
“When it comes to starting companies, we look at the success some of our friends have had in Detroit,” Mazur said. “Folks are willing to help each other here, and you can make a big splash even when you’re first starting out.” The challenge, they acknowledge, is Detroit’s lack of native fashion industry, but they believe they can replicate the success of other local tech entrepreneurs by starting their store online.
The IndieGoGo campaign for Ash & Anvil has already been a success. Though the campaign runs through March 18, the company has already raised almost $9,000 more than its initial $10,000 goal. Mazur and Huang will use the money to establish an initial production run and fulfill campaign orders. After that, they’ll open for business online.
“Starting next week, we’re going full force on getting the shirts made,” Mazur added.
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