Mizzen+Main’s Kevin Lavelle got his performance dress wear first noticed by bringing trunk shows to MLB locker rooms and focusing on serving the athlete.
Mizzen+Main is best known for creating beautiful tailored menswear that performs like a game day worn technical garment. Think Nike Dri-Fit meets Zara. They’re calling it, luxury performance and tailoring their game to athletes. Why? “Athletes feel more comfortable wearing performance professional dress wear,” says Founder Kevin Lavelle. It’s a natural progression from the field of battle to the press conference and beyond.
Lavelle (who’s only 30!) announced today the apparel company has closed $3 million in a modest Series B round of venture funding. It all started with a Kickstarter campaign, then to private locker room trunk shows, and later to signing Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt as their brand ambassador.
Locker Room Success
Mizzen+Main gained traction by bringing trunk shows to Major League Baseball locker rooms where athletes could feel and try on their shirts. After falling in love, they could order from Mizzen+Main’s Shopify store from an iPad that circulated the locker room. Essentially, another spin on the increasingly popular “see now, buy now” strategy we’re seeing from fashion brands like Alice + Olivia.
Later, they started a VIP concierge service for professional athletes and other top customers. The program offered exclusive access to new styles before they were released, and impressively, each order was taken by phone. Now the company even boasts a locker room ambassador program.
Athletes have mostly learned about the brand by word-of-mouth. “It’s spread in a very grass roots and wildfire-like way,” says Lavelle.
Mizzen+Main’s signature product is a dress shirt made of athletic, moisture-wicking, four-way stretch performance fabric that doesn’t need to be ironed or dry cleaned. Not bad at $125 a pop.
Up in coming to their line is a blazer that you can throw into a duffel bag, endure travel and then wear out that night – again, without dry cleaning, steaming, or maintenance. The blazer will retail at $495.
“I’ve had to let go of the notion that I could ever truly protect everything we are doing and focus much more on getting the brand name out there, making sure people are passionate about our products and beyond happy with our customer service,” says Lavelle.
Lavelle said the company has had 400 to 500 percent year-over-year growth since it started in 2014. A year ago, Mizzen+Main’s clothes were sold in 50 stores. Today, they’re sold in more than 200 stores, however 80% of sales are still driven from ecommerce. They’ve also been able to triple their production from December 2015 to April 2016.
How They’re Using the $3M
Lavelle says they’ll use the funds to grow the company’s cash reserves, buy inventory, hire additional staff and invest in marketing. The company currently has 16 full-time employees and 2 part-time, all based in Dallas.
Mizzen+Main’s Series B backers included: New Orleans Saints Super Bowl champ Thomas Morstead; Ben Nash, Dallas Mavericks’ owner Mark Cuban; Co-Founder and CEO of PCS Wireless; George Couri and Bruce Kalmick of Triple 8 Management; VTF Capital; Brian Tochman of MRCA Investment and other private investors.