Commonwealth Clothiers, a retailer that provides custom men’s clothing and a consultant offering advice to customers on fashion choices, is revamping its website and re-branding its line of suits.
Co-owner Todd Goldsmith said the launch of a more visual website next month will coincide with the introduction of Commonwealth’s Matterhorn suits, named for the high-quality sheep’s wool.
“As tailors when we think of Matterhorn sheep, we think of pure quality,” Goldsmith said. “They are the elite sheep, so we decided to go with a label that is elite.”
Launched in 2009 by Goldsmith and Chad Milburn, the company has grown to 520 clients based mostly in Virginia. The company did $500,000 in sales in 2013, Goldsmith said.
Its customers buy clothes custom-made by Commonwealth Clothiers’ manufacturers in Mississippi, China and Canada with fabric from Europe and the U.S. All business is referred — there’s no shop and no inventory.
Goldsmith said he meets some clients once year and some once a month. Commonwealth custom suits start at $550 and off-the-rack suits start at $275. Some of the Matterhorn wool suits will sell for about $4,000-5,000.
“You get the experience of having a personal tailor without having to mortgage your house to get a suit,” Goldsmith said.
Goldsmith and Milburn typically meet with four clients each day, either in their homes or offices. The pair’s tools of the trade are fabric samples, Perkins devices (which measure posture and shoulder pinch) and three-dimensional measuring software.
Their clients range from the recent law graduate to the retired judge. A testimonial from the late Lawrence Eagleburger, who served four presidents as an advisor and diplomat, is currently posted on Commonwealth Clothiers website.
Commonwealth Clothier isn’t the only startup men’s fashion retailer sizing up the high end of the Richmond market.
North Carolina-based Collared Greens also has a location near Libbie Ave. and is moving its headquarters to Richmond this spring.
And there’s Richmond-based Ledbury in Shockoe Bottom, now with more than a dozen employees.
There’s a reason for that trend, Goldsmith said.
“I think what men have missed out on for many years is that they saw the suit as a uniform,” Goldsmith said. “What I’m seeing a lot more of is people that put on their uniform, but they do it with pride.”
Before starting with Commonwealth, Goldsmith worked for nine years as a sales manager for a clothing company, where Milburn also worked. After they left, Goldsmith and Milburn took multiple trips to New York to meet with vendors, eventually finding some willing to work with them on a small scale.
“I felt like I could do more,” Goldsmith said of the decision to launch the business. “I was tired of being a salesperson.”
The company hopes to add to its ranks with two or four more consultants later this year.
“Our goal is to build it up where at the end of 2014, we’ll be at three quarters of a million dollars from a sale’s standpoint,” Goldsmith said.