Basic Outfitters is an online service that allows men to ‘Create-a-Drawer’ consisting of up to 19 basics including socks, underwear, t-shirts and sweatpants for only $60. Exceed recently interviewed Michael Dweck, who cofounded the company with his wife Laura in 2015. Like so many great businesses, Basic Outfitters was born out of necessity.
After getting married in 2014, Michael and Laura moved into a small apartment in Manhattan. Laura, whose background is in the fashion industry, had a lot of clothing. “Closet space was at a premium” Dweck laughed. “Because of the tight fit, I was reduced to a single drawer for my socks and underwear. I had so many basics that the drawer wouldn’t close. When Laura challenged me to get rid of anything I hadn’t worn in over three months, we quickly realized it was 90% of my drawer.” After tossing almost all of his underwear, socks and undershirts, Michael went shopping. “It turns out, shopping for underwear and socks isn’t very fun. They are often in different sections, are either very expensive for high quality basics or inexpensive for low quality basics. Even shopping online was stressful. There were no exciting offerings and I refused pay less for low quality or the exorbitant prices charged for a good pair of underwear.” This experience led Michael and Laura to the realization that shopping for basics was an overlooked market in serious need of a change. “We could do it better” they said. Soon, they jumped in with both feet and started doing a lot of research. During this time, they came across a surprising statistic. “Did you know the average man keeps his underwear for 7 years?” said Dweck. “There’s something wrong here.”
According to Dweck, lack of excitement, price point and poor marketing are some of the reasons why basics are so seldom purchased. “It’s not like buying a new suit, where you feel vindicated for spending a lot of money because you look and feel great. Underwear and socks are often expensive with little emotional payoff.” The Dwecks decided that the trick to turning the underwear market on its head was to make a service that was convenient, easy and affordable. “We made sure our customers could put together a drawer in under 2 minutes. And we offer over 50,000 basics combinations.” When asked how they keep their price point so low- their ‘drawers’ are a $120 value for $60- Dweck spoke of his wife’s time in the fashion industry. “We did countless hours of research and went through droves of market data. We found that $60 was the price point at which men would feel they were getting a high quality product for the right price. Laura used her contacts with vendors and factories to make sure we hit that $60 mark. We backed into the price point and refused to settle for lower quality. Thankfully, it worked.”
When asked how long it took to launch the company, from concept to first order, Dweck laughed. “It was very quick. We knew we had a great idea. We worked for 6 months on our lunch breaks, at night, whenever we had time. I left my job in March of 2015 and we launched the company in November of the same year.” Dweck’s confidence was matched early on by investors. “We raised capital at a million dollar valuation on concept alone. People immediately understood the vision and wanted to invest.” The company, with its Create-a-Drawer concept, sounds like a subscription service, but Dweck was adamant that it is not. “We were thinking about making it a subscription service, like so many other companies these days. But we didn’t want to force customers into a commitment. We wanted them to be able to try the service, love it and come back when they need to refresh and it turns out people love that it is a simple, commitment-free purchase.”
When asked about competitors, Dweck didn’t really name one. “Sure, there are plenty of retailers, both online and in store that sell socks and underwear, but there is not one that offers the value and convenience that we offer with our Create-a-Drawer concept.” The business’s success has already opened some surprising doors. The couple recently appeared on Shark Tank, one of the most popular television shows in the country in which entrepreneurs pitch their products to a group of investors. “Being on Shark Tank was amazing. Business has been booming since the show aired.” While they did not close a deal in ‘the tank’, the investors loved the idea. “Even if you don’t make a deal, having the sharks say on national television that they love your product and business model is huge.”
The Dwecks’ success has also led them to be chosen for Exceed’s Under 30 Spotlight as well as Forbes’ 30 Under 30 Retail success stories. And, they just moved to larger offices which happen to be next to Exceed Network’s offices at the 5th avenue WeWork location. According to Michael, much of the success of the company can be attributed to working with his wife, Laura. “The most common question we get is, what is it like to work with your spouse. The answer? It’s incredible. We know each other’s strengths and weaknesses. Unlike a regular employee, where you need to beat around the bush, we can be direct with each other. We love each other very much and so working together is a amazing.”
Watch the Laura and Michael’s interview here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J-0qwhV1Y1U
Check out more of Michael and Laura’s story and create your own drawer of basics on their site, BasicOutfitters.com.