Woodies CEO Jacob Wood on the Future of Retail After COVID-19: People aren’t dressing up like they used to.

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Jacob Wood, Founder of custom casual-wear startup Woodies Clothing, explores the future of men’s style after COVID-19 and explains how his business aims to continue delivering value 365 days a year (including through a new Kickstarter campaign for work-from-home performance chinos).

This article is part of an ongoing series exploring how startups, small businesses and retailers are adjusting in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

I asked Woodies Clothing founder Jacob Wood to explore where wardrobes settle going forward, what the new cadence of production and sales looks like, and how his company is adjusting to new wants and needs in light of COVID-19.

I’ve admired Jacob for his focus on delivering consistent value to customers and for occupying a niche in menswear — custom casual clothing made easy — that is often overlooked and is now clearly thriving in the COVID-19 work-from-home world.

Below is a first person account from Jacob, lightly-edited for grammar and length.

People aren’t dressing up like they used to

“Some categories in e-commerce thrived as the pandemic set in, but not all.

Athleisure did well during the pandemic, but a company that sells custom dress shirts? Not so much.

“People aren’t dressing up like they used to. I wouldn’t say we’ve thrived in this environment, but we’ll certainly make it through to the other side of this and still see growth year-on-year.

“We’re lucky, because we’re a little more casual and performance-oriented in the realm of “custom clothing.”

“From early on [before the pandemic], we found a niche in performance fabrics — both shirts and chinos. In fact, our top sellers have always been our line of performance shirts and chinos. Sales of the performance chinos have especially done well.

“I’m a little biased, but I highly recommend our performance chinos. I’m wearing a pair now. They look dressed up, but they’re so comfortable.

“We have a solid collection of button up flannels as well that I think will do very well as the temperatures start to cool. A flannel is a great addition to the WFH [work-from-home] wardrobe. Super comfy, but dressed up.

“We’re very fortunate to have those performance fabrics.

Adjusting to new production and sales rhythms

“Our business is incredibly nimble. We typically manufacture and purchase fabrics only a couple months before launch, so we’re not affected by inventory and seasonality like your average store.

“As for Black Friday? We’ve never believed in it. Total joke.

“Before founding Woodies, I worked as a buyer at Macy’s and let me tell you, a $99 Black Friday special suit is a $99 suit. You get what you pay for.

“We believe in an incredible product and will continue to deliver exceptional value 365-days-a-year, period. I love knowing that any day of the year, a customer from Woodies is going to love their clothes and appreciate the value.

How Woodies is planning for the long term

“Right now, we’re investing more in performance fabrics. Buying more colors, adding more features.

“We’ve contemplated opening up brick-and-mortar locations for a while, but COVID certainly changes that calculation!

“We actually just launched a new Kickstarter for a new and improved performance chino, which went live on September 1st.

“Long term, this trend towards e-commerce certainly helps some segments of the market — like boomers — get more comfortable with buying clothes online. That’s great for us and good generally for consumer confidence in e-commerce.”

About Jake

Jake is an expert on men’s style and fashion based in Washington, DC. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs and innovative clothing and lifestyle brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. He has published hundreds of articles on style and apparel, and regularly interviews small business CEOs and startup founders about industry trends. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine.

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