TRAUB Capital Makes First Investment in Knot Standard

Traub Capital, the investment arm of Marvin Traub Associates, has made its first deal and it’s for a bespoke men’s wear company.

The firm has purchased a “significant minority stake” in Knot Standard, an online custom men’s suit maker with showrooms in seven cities around the world.

The Knot Standard homepage.
Courtesy Photo

“They were a client of ours a few years ago and we realized they were great people and had a great concept,” said Mortimer Singer, president and chief executive officer of Marvin Traub Associates. “We’ve been watching them grow and succeed and believe we can add the top-spin to help them grow further.”

He declined to provide a figure for the size of the investment.

Singer said investing in Knot Standard is “a new chapter for us. They’re quite cutting-edge in their approach.” He said the company is a prime example of “the intersection between customization in the men’s wear business and e-commerce/omnichannel,” both of which are growing segments of the apparel market.

Singer said that while there are a lot of e-commerce-driven businesses that got their start online, Knot Standard is using the “ability and know-how” it acquired as an online player to “guide them to retail locations.

“They started as a men’s bespoke custom clothing company online and now have seven showrooms,” Singer added. “The payback on the showrooms is three months, which is eye-popping. The retention rate is 60 percent and the alteration and return rates are 1 and 2 percent, respectively, which is also eye-popping.”

John Ballay, cofounder of Knot Standard, said with the cash infusion, the goal for 2016 is to “increase our retail footprint and bolster our e-commerce presence.”

He said the company will open five new showrooms next year. Two will be in San Francisco and Los Angeles “for sure, and the other three markets are up for grabs.” He said tops on his list are “secondary markets in the Northeast and Southwest.” Right now, Knot Standard has showrooms in New York; Washington, D.C.; Dubai; Dallas; Austin; Houston, and Chicago.

Singer said Traub will also explore the opportunity of opening small Knot Standard shops in department stores around the country. He envisions these as 120-square-foot boutiques, or “like high-end kiosks with an attendant to help customers build a suit. It will have a cool environment and no inventory” — a model he expects to appeal to traditional retailers.

He is also hoping to work with high-end mall developers on a similar concept that would operate in malls, he said.

Knot Standard was founded in 2010 by Ballay and Matthew Mueller. It offers custom suits, shirts, pants, outerwear and sportswear based on creating digitized customer measurements and a 3-D image. From that, tailors use lasers to cut the pieces and create garments using fabrics from mills such as Holland & Sherry, Reda, Loro Piana and Zegna. Garments are completed within three to four weeks.

The company was ranked 130th on Inc. Magazine’s list of America’s fastest-growing private companies and was deemed the 10th fastest-growing retailer nationwide.