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As a poor freelance writer it can seem like an impossible task to crawl out of the wasteland of black and gray shirts into a land of accessories and flair. I’ll be the first to admit that t-shirts are the sole staple of my meager wardrobe and aside from flannel shirts they likely comprise 90 percent of what I have to offer, clothing-wise.

Lucky for me and all other t-shirt wearing dudes of the Lazyverse, Chicago startup Stitched has an affordable way to spice up our favorite garment with a soon-to-launch platform that allows users to craft their own custom t-shirt. We’re not talking about silly decals, but colors, stitching, epaulettes (those shoulder loop thingies for all you Lazyverse guys out there), and elbow patches. Stitched enables you to combine any colors of each of these t-shirt elements to create the most stylish (or horrifying) garment of your dreams.

We sat down with Stitched founder and CEO Jeff Pollack, who is on the verge of launching the revolutionary clothing company he’s been hard at working building for the past year and a half.

 

 

What is the backstory behind Stitched?

I originally started in real estate and investments, but I eventually decided it wasn’t for me and I wanted to switch paths in life. I really enjoyed being in clothing, but I didn’t want to deal with the day to day quarter inch measurements.

T-shirts had become really popular and people were really dressing down their casual wardrobes by wearing sport coats and t-shirts. I thought it would be a good idea to see if I can offer the same type of concept with a t-shirt and really kind of dress it up. I tried to look at it as the art of basics.

A basic t-shirt is not just a t-shirt anymore; because of the options that we offer you’re able to use it as an accessory. There are roughly 180,000 different variations that can be made in the men’s line alone using Stitched.

 

 

What are your hopes for the launch of Stitched this month?

It’s a tricky situation to be honest. This project has taken over a year and a half. We were really trying to develop a website of technology that has not been used the way we’re using it. We’ve had tremendous headaches with the website, developers, and manufacturers.

Now that we’ve finally gotten all the glitches out this is a very marketing-heavy type of a company. Due to the custom part of this company our sales are going to be primarily online in the beginning so we really need to get it out there. My goal for the first month would be to sell 150 to 200 units. I want to have a slow burn -- let people start ordering and see how it works and get it out there.

I anticipate six months down the road to hopefully hit the 750 to 1,000 unit mark in a month.

What are some features you hope to add following launch?

We’re actually going to be hosting design competitions, where people can go on and design their shirt and submit it to the Stitched Project. The designers and I will vote it down to three and then put it up to the public to decide the winner, whose shirt will be featured on the site for that month. We create the shirt with a “Stitched by” tag, which is frankly their own label.

Do you plan to get your shirts into retail stores in the future?

I actually just got off the phone today with two different local retailers and one in Las Vegas who are interested in carrying the line. People are stuck purchasing blanks from an American Apparel-type company, somebody who makes your solids for you and that’s what you sell.

The beauty of what we have, because of the way that we do the manufacturing, you’re now able to customize your blank. You can still do your standard whites, blacks, and grays, but they can mix it up by doing those with different colored stitching. They can take basic t-shirts and give them a little bit of personality.

Another thing we plan to do is give retailers a Stitched-branded tablet they can keep at the counter. Anyone who wants something different than what’s available in the store can create a shirt of their own in only five clicks.

 

 

What’s one thing you’ve learned that you wish you’d known when you started?

Things are definitely not as easy as they seem. I knew the manufacturing side would be difficult; nobody manufactures like this. From the website side, the technology side, I’ve gone through multiple developers who all thought the project would be no problem. Unfortunately sometimes people just get in over their heads and they’re afraid to say they’re stuck and instead put everybody in an even worse situation.

At this point I’m proud to say all the code is in place, the website’s functioning, the manufacturing is working, and we keep pushing. We’re actually going to launch in the next couple of weeks. At some points I figured we’d never get there and we’re there. It’s going to go through.

What’s kept you motivated during the past year and a half?

There’s the financial side of things. I have two children that I need to keep paying for their lives, their ambitions, and their happiness. Ultimately I’ve really believed in this product. Every time you have these rough days where everything seems to be caving in on you and somebody asks you what you do, a lot of the time you just don’t even want to get into it. Then there’s that day when you talk to somebody about the idea at a dinner gathering and every person there says, “That’s the coolest thing I’ve seen in a long time.”

I decided that no matter what happens I’m going to see this through to launch, even if nothing happens after then at least I did it. It’s really cool when your kids are literally saying, “My dad made that shirt he’s wearing.”

 

 

What’s next for Stitched following the launch?

We’re going to focus on launching the online platform, and from there we’re aggressively going after brick and mortar stores with a design line. We’ll have expansion within the company, as I’m bringing on multiple sales people and sales groups. We’re working hard to promote ourselves as the t-shirt you’ve never worn before.

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