CFM: What brought your creative minds together?
Ralph: Admiration for each other’s taste.
Jeff: Two martinis and a mutual love interest.
CFM: What inspired the two of you to go into entrepreneurship and launch His Stuff?
Ralph: I already had a business on the street and was waiting for the neighborhood to change and be able to support an upscale men’s store.
Jeff: Opportunity , a passion for clothing and mutual admiration for each other’s talents.
CFM: In the late 1990s, 52 percent of men clothing purchases were made by women. In 2003 that percentage dropped to only 30%. This means the majority of men are now shopping for their own wardrobe... Is there a difference in the needs of the male shopper in comparison to the female consumer? Did you anticipate this change (men shopping more for themselves) and how were you prepared to meet this new consumer’s needs?
Ralph: For the male consumer, it’s all about comfort. Comfort in their clothing and comfort in the environment where they shop. We wanted our store to be “guy friendly” and make the shopping experience as simple as possible. We’re here to help them as little or as much as they need. Women like to shop, kind of like a hobby. Men shop for necessity. Women like to look at everything. Men want to see the things they need. We’ve taken and cut out all the “stuff” our guys don’t need or want to see, and show them what’s best and new. This in turn makes the shopping experience simple.
Jeff: I think overall a man shops as sport; he’s going home with a trophy today. Women tend to shop more as hobby; it’s social and more comparative.
CFM: How did you successfully find your niche, and why here in Chicago ?
Ralph: I guess we fell into it at birth; we were both born male. We have both lived in Chicago for over 10 years. When we go to market we ask three basic questions of each other: 1. Is it interesting? 2. Is it well made? 3. Is it worth the price?
Jeff: Our niche is essentially us – lifestyle clothing for someone who doesn’t spend every night in a club or every day on the golf course. Why not Chicago – one of the truly great cities of the world? Fashion and people with style do in fact exist between the coasts.
CFM: Who is His Stuff? Who personifies your consumer? When you are selecting what you carry in your store, who do you envision wearing these styles? What is your ideal target?
Ralph: The majority of our customers are guys who can take care of themselves. They enjoy looking their best and don’t like to wear what everyone else has on. On the other hand, we have a percentage of clients whose wives and/or girlfriends drag them in and make them update their wardrobe, and once they see how painless it is, they come alone...
Jeff: We believe personal style is not about price or labels. It’s a point of view, be it a pair of flip-flops or a beautifully tailored overcoat. It’s also about building a wardrobe and style that’s individual and simple. Getting dressed should be the easiest thing of the day.
CFM: What local designers, if any, are you currently carrying? What draws you to a designer’s pieces, and how do you select your merchandise?
Ralph: From Chicago , we carry Joseph Alexander. He’s 19 years old, and he does these great, screened t-shirts. His graphics are well thought out and the fabrics on the T’s are fantastic.
Jeff: A designer or line gets our attention for a couple of reasons. Does a collection hold together as a statement or just a bunch of items? Is it saying something interesting or new? There is a reason behind every item in our store.
CFM: What designer are you most excited about right now? Why?
Ralph: Hugo Boss-Red Line. They take these classic pieces and make them fit your body. A matter of fact it makes your body look better.
Jeff: Modern Amusement is a terrific line. Everything mixes and layers together. They do a lot of vintage-inspired pieces and everything has a little twist or humor. Fashion should make you smile.
CFM: The Holidays are fast approaching. What look/style could you suggest for a man who wants to celebrate New Year’s Eve in stylistic bliss? What about anyone shopping for Christmas gifts for the significant male in his/her life? What would make for a surefire and stylish gift?
Ralph: New Year’s Eve looks- Beat the crowds and skip the jeans. I know they’re comfortable, but go for a classic tweed or plaid slack, in wool or corduroy. Look for them in a tailored modern fit, with a mid-rise waist. Top it off with a fun sport coat in a fine cord or crushed velvet. The key is that it fits like it’s been tailored for you. A great gift for him – Introduce him to a great cashmere scarf. They’re so soft and warm.
Jeff: A great gift is something someone would never buy for themselves because of price and/or practicality. An unusual pair of cufflinks, a retro inspired watch, anything cashmere...
CFM: What trends, if any, are you focusing on this season? What pieces would you consider to be classics and advise men to buy for the wardrobes?
Ralph: Must haves this winter season. Tailored woolen slacks (flat front), with great patterns or weaves. Think of your grandfather’s clothes and make sure they are tailored. Sleeveless knit vest or cardigan sweaters. Also add one great pair of jeans that aren’t overly styled and in a dark wash to wear dressed up or down.
Jeff: You’d be amazed how far in life you can go in a crisp white shirt, tailored black blazer and a pair of jeans.