Suitsupply aims to make waves in Austin market

Gary Dinges | American-Statesman Staff
Source: My Statesman

Add Suitsupply to the list of trendy retailers that now call Austin home.

The menswear chain, which got its start in Amsterdam in 2000, has set up shop at Domain Northside, Endeavor Real Estate Group’s new mixed-use project in North Austin.

Suitsupply is one of about 100 shops and restaurants that call the development home. Many are already open, while others will follow suit in the coming weeks and months.

The American-Statesman talked recently with Suitsupply vice president Nish de Gruiter, who helped the company establish its presence in the U.S. six years ago. Today, there are about 20 stores throughout the country.

American-Statesman: How did Suitsupply get its start?

Nish de Gruiter: Our founder Fokke (de Jong) started the company out of his dorm room. Basically he was driving to Germany on the weekends to get suits and tuxedos for his fellow students to make a living. Over time, it became a bigger thing, obviously.

When Suitsupply decided to expand into Texas, Houston and Dallas both got stores before Austin. Why’s that?

I’ve been scouting Austin longer than either of those markets. Out of all the cities in Texas, Austin’s the fastest-growing one. There’s development going on everywhere. When you drive around, there are just so many (construction) cranes. I looked at Congress, I looked at (West Sixth Street and North Lamar Boulevard). Ultimately, we chose Domain Northside because it’s a destination location. I’m excited to be here.

What, in your mind, sets Suitsupply apart from other menswear stores?

Our core is tailoring. When you see it, you’re pleasantly surprised. We do alterations while you wait. You don’t have to come back.

A suit’s never an impulse guy. You think about it. Especially guys. You go to our store and there’s a lot of energy. It’s different. There aren’t guys twice your age telling you how to look cool. It’s young, energetic. All our guys on the floor are trained by an internal suit school.

Having the latest technology is a primary focus of Suitsupply executives. Why is that?

The technology angle for us is state of the art. If we don’t have it in stock, it drop-ships to your house. We have an RFID system that tracks where product are. If you buy something, we create an online closet. All your specs are in the system. So if you come back or if you log in from your desk, you know what you bought. It’s a very current way of shopping.

Speaking of technology, you’ve said social media is especially important to you. Why is that?

The whole way we think about retail is changing. In the past, your mom told you, ‘Well, your dad wears a suit like this so you should wear a suit like this.’ Now you have Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat. We literally have guys who come in, point at the picture and say, ‘I want that.’ We’re monetizing these things.