Fashion meets life.
"Character. Intelligence. Strength. Style. That makes beauty."
-Diane von Furstenberg
-Diane von Furstenberg
Psssst...Scroll to the bottom for Categories and the Newsletter sign-up!
Chris Crawley, one of the masterminds behind Stitchings.co stationed in Raleigh, NC, expressed his passion for the business. Stitchings.co is a company bringing everyday men custom high-quality (all suits, pants, and jackets are 100% wool, all shirts are 100% fine cotton) made-to-measure menswear at an affordable price.
Chris joked around with the idea of designing urban t-shirts at 15. "As I grew out of my sneakerhead phase and started dressing more professionally, I noticed my athletic build made it hard to shop for clothes. So I'd spend lots of money on tailoring and the quality of clothes found in stores didn't match the price. After toying with the idea of creating a solution for about 2 years, I linked up my 2 co-founders Sombat Southivorarat and Ank Shah to start Stitchings.co, custom high-quality made-to-measure menswear at an affordable price." What was the design that pushed the company? "I'm known for wearing stuff others wouldn't think of when it comes to color combinations and fabric. However, my first design was simple in approach. A burgundy, peak lapel, 2×2 double breasted, white ox-horn button suit. When I wore it to a conservative function, I had heads turning and people asking where I got it from. I was hooked at that point. Some of our first sales came from people I met that night."
With all this custom formal wear being made, where do they find inspiration? "From a number of places, which is needed because we sell to a broad clientele. The traditional designers of course are inspiration when it comes to working with clients who want to play it safe - Cannali, Tom Ford, Gucci, Ferragamo. But as of late, we've had our eye on Jidenna. His incorporation of traditional ethnic attire into western format has got us playing around with some interesting stuff. Nature is another inspiration. We'll be releasing an ad campaign later this year that showcases what we have to offer as it relates to seasons and settings."
Jidenna's style speaks for himself. He often rocks a mixture of formal wear and athleisure, pairing a slim-fit suit with a pair of kicks.
"I'm a country guy from a small town," Crawley confesses. "[I] spent a lot of time outside growing up. Landscaping, pulling tobacco, etc." When asked if his upbringing affects his look towards design and the fashion world Chris says, "The biggest affect it's had is being able to tell men to step outside the box and experiment a little. I've always liked slim fit suits. Growing up in small town NC, wearing a slim fit suit came off as a bit odd. Wanting to pair [it] with sneakers was an extreme no no. I always explain that style lasts forever and is from within the individual. Yes there are rules to follow, but some can be broken in a tasteful manner. Because our goal is to eventually sell to the masses, I always keep the idea that some will not want to change and our goal is style them in a traditional manner that still makes them standout."
Reyna Alicea: Is that challenging at all, styling traditional suits that still stand out?
Chris Crawley: It's not challenging. It's actually fun. Takes some patience, but because we go to the client and measure them within their own home, showcase fabrics, and give them our direct phone numbers, we build trust fairly easily. We eat, sleep, and breathe the brand. And clients can tell that as soon as they meet us. We're real guys, we'll have a drink with you in your home or office, bring food if you invite us to a cookout, remember your family members names, etc.
RA: What challenges have you faced with Stitchings.co?
CC: The biggest challenge with Stitchings.co is a loaded question. We're a local brand/business, team of 4, building relationships and selling clothing directly to customers - but at the same time we're a startup. We're developing a web platform that will allow anyone to purchase our stuff. We'll be competing against the big guys - Indochino, Black Lapel, and Combatant Gent - fairly soon. Challenges are leveraging our own founding to complete the project, developing a sound go-to market strategy, and execution (we're so small at the moment, we all have full-time jobs in addition to Stitchings.co). Who knew you can't sleep when you're actually working towards following your dreams
RA: I can see that being challenging in itself. Trying not to drown in competition, keeping your core beliefs.
CC: Yes, keeping core beliefs is important to us. We all came from humble beginnings. Each with a fight story of their own. That has molded each of us. Our brand is centered on empowerment - each one, teach one. One founder, Sombat is an immigrant from Laos. We like being able to connect internationally for our supply chain, establish real streams of revenue by providing real working wages when we can. There are plans for vocational education seminars to help at-risk youth here in the US. We want to see everyone grow to their full-potential, have access to designer level clothing, be suited properly for that next step in their life (college and job interviews, closing a life changing business deal, etc.) We've even partnered with a resume consulting firm, and started relationships with local university career centers. It's a passion that we've found can be expressed and pushed through a fun platform, and exciting industry. Back to NCFW, I want people to see we can offer every gentleman clothing for any occassion, whether business appropriate or party standout.
RA: Through this process what have you learned about yourself?
CC: I've learned life gets no better when it comes to providing a quality service and making a positive impact on clients' lives while doing something I love. I've also learned, [that] the relationships with other designers, brands, tailors, and fashion enthusiasts is a community I never want to leave.
Designers are only as good as what their buyers think of them. For fun, I wanted to know the most expressive reaction they've had. I wasn't disappointed and was surprised when he told me it was very explicit. "The occassional snap chats and asking us to pose with them are always fun. The most expressive reaction was pretty explicit... He then proceeded to dance and do what we call the 'Frankenstein'" (The Frankenstein = they walk with arms out in front while staring down at their outfit. And they continue to that back and forth in front of the mirror.) We couldn't have passed this topic without asking him how he felt when he gets these kinds of reactions. "I get ecstatic! I love when they smile and keep posing in the mirror. Comments like "I can't wait to show this off" are enough gratification for a job well done."
Reyna Alicea: What do you do to brand your company?
Chris Crawley: Your question is another good loaded one. Myself and Sombat are marketing professionals with almost 20 years combined experience. We've worked with a number of small businesses and a few large enterprise clients. Our branding focuses on 3 key principles: Consistency, Culture, and What Makes Us Different. You'll notice Consistency in our website, packaging, social media, and how we work with clients. Setting and exceeding client expectations is what we strive to do. We keep the logo and quality of garments consistent throughout the merchandise we produce. We want the community to recognize the logo and know it is synonymous with high quality. As far as for Culture... I think we answered that when talking about Passion and impact on Clients, Community, and Fashion. What Makes Us Different is our biggest value proposition when acquiring new clients. So, we've engrained it in the brand itself to present this before initial conversations. We allow the everyday individual to receive access to a service and quality of clothing that many have traditionally only thought accessible to celebrities and wealthy individuals. It feels awesome to provide a service that educates men, builds their confidence, and teaches them how to save money by creating an interchangeable wardrobe!
RA: Where do you see yourself in 5 years with your designs?
CC: In 5 years, I see Stitchings.co being a big player in the men's made-to-measure category, nationally and international. I see myself still running the company with our original team, bringing better talent and fresh ideas on board that share the same drive, passion, and values. I'll still be the biggest Stitchings.co customer, but will be spending more time traveling and getting inspiration first-hand from around the world.
When I asked if his talent was inherited he perked up and gave a shout out immediately. "Actually, a fair amount of us can draw. But, I have a cousin that's a comic book artist in Columbus, Ohio. Shoutout to Vantage: Inhouse Productions! We're both taking our art to the next level."
Chris was the second designer I interviewed and the second that agreed to a text interview. An interview over text seemed to be easier and more convenient for those who had a busy day. This method of interviewing came in handy when Chris had to be out and about for the day. "Sorry for the late response. The last bit of the day got crazy with deliveries and client meetings. I also took some time to hang out with Glenwood South Tailors (downtown Raleigh) and met one of their clients."
Glenwood South Tailors in downtown Raleigh is where Stitchings.co customers get last minute tailoring.
"I spent 3 weeks in India back in November with my fiance (editor's note: they are now married) and her family learning about Indian culture and fashion. The rich colors and patterns and use of raw silk and other fabric were eye opening." I immediately wanted to know if I'd see Stitchings.co having a bit of Indian culture in their designs. "Definitely. Slim fit Kurtas and Bandis are a big interest. I actually have a couple that I designed. It was an amazing experience to have a designer there in Mumbai create the pieces for me. I learned a fair amount. To see the templates, canvassing, and detail sewn by hand was an eye opener. I'll be bringing a Bandi to the show at NCFW. Anyone who wants to see it will be able to at our booth."
Reyna Alicea: Thank you so much! I enjoyed this and loved being able to see how passionate you are! I can't wait to see the bandis you'll have displayed at your booth!
Chris Crawley: I love to talk shop and about Stitchings.co. Meaningful conversations and real connections drive real relationships!
Talking with Chris was fun and he had lots of information to share. I can't wait to see Stitchings.co on the runway.
- x Reyna