Founded in 2012 by the Melwani cousins, Vishaal and Mo, Combatant Gentleman wants to help you dress smarter. The 3 year old e-commerce menswear supplier is pioneering a “sheep-to-closet” operating model that manages to keep costs so low, they can fill a prominent gap in the market. Combat Gent is enthusiastically pursuing the young business professional that needs to look good in the office but is not yet able to afford a closet of higher end suits.
When Combatant Gentleman CEO, Vishaal Melwani, saw his recently graduated friends struggling to afford the proper attire for their new jobs on Wall-Street, he saw an underserved market and an opportunity for a new kind of business. As a third generation Versace tailor, Melwani knew the ins-and-outs of quality menswear and wanted to be able to bring that level of expertise and quality to young men, new to the professional world; thus, he created Combatant Gentleman.
Combat Gent launched as an exclusively online suit and tuxedo supplier. They have since moved into more casual menswear but their bread and butter is still their suits, offered in two fits: slim or the slightly roomier modern cut. They differentiate themselves from their competitors with price, quality, and ease of shopping. At Combat Gent, they realize that customers are hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars on clothing they have never touched or tried on. Therefore, they developed a suite of services to help their customers including a proprietary fit calculator that uses your height and weight to find the proper fit (called FitTech, it gets fit right 96% of the time), video chat with their customer service representatives through their site, and free shipping and returns. When it comes to quality and price, Vishaal wanted to offer his friends a better alternative than Men’s Warehouse (the largest player in Combat Gent’s space). Being the sole designer, and with his experience, he sought to deliver the quality of designers available at Nordstom’s (such as Hugo Boss) at a price as low as $160. To accomplish this, he needed an innovative operating model to compliment his bold business plans.
The secret sauce to Combatant Gentleman’s business is their operating model. To keep costs as low as possible, they have fully vertically integrated their processes. Vishaal knows how to source. After working in his parent’s Versace stores, he spent time at a denim mill and started a garment trading company with his cousin; experience that gave him a thorough understanding of all that goes into a suit from the raw materials all the way to selling a finished product. As a result, Combatant Gentleman owns their own sheep (67 to be exact), plants their own cotton, and owns their manufacturing facilities. They also travel the world to find the best raw materials and manufacturers. With materials sourced from Italy, India, and Portugal and manufacturing facilities in Northern and Southern China, Combat Gent can always be on the lookout for new innovations and cost savings. Cutting out all the middle men, through their vertical integration, has significant cost savings and Combat Gent is very transparent about how they pass those savings on to their customer.
Additionally, by focusing solely on e-commerce, Combatant Gentleman saves a tremendous amount by not having to maintain a retail network and stock inventory in all of those locations. Going even further, they created a core software technology that connects all the aspects of their business, called Tower. Tower is Combat Gent’s ongoing attempt to communicate to all aspects of their business accurately forecasted sales, which is very difficult at the rate they are growing. For instance, Tower looks at web traffic/sales, if it sees a large increase, it will automatically place an order with materials suppliers and manufacturers to stock up their warehouses. Through this internally developed operations technology, Combat Gent can keep their processes as lean as possible. All of this adds up to a significant savings in overhead costs that they can pass on to the customer.
As Combatant Gentleman grows, they know they have many challenges to face. Their model is quite scalable, but anything that grows fast will face problems. Over the last 3 years they have had some issues with stock-outs and hiring quality people fast enough. As they grow, they’ve also altered their model slightly, by adding various other products and even opening a retail location at their headquarters for custom suiting and product trials. However you look at it, the numbers are hard to ignore, with revenue growing from $673k in 2012, to $4.4 million in 2013, and over $10 million in 2014 the future looks promising for the Melwanis and their innovative suiting company.
“Dress Smarter.” Combatant Gentlemen. Web. 9 Dec. 2015. <https://combatgent.com/dress-smarter>.