Creative Duo Start Unique Online Menswear Company
by Yvette Schultz
[av_dropcap1]G[/av_dropcap1]eoff Argue and Tom Severini hit it off immediately when they first met at New York City’s Parsons School of Design. Geoff, a fashion design major, was known for going against the grain and pushing limits of design and authority and inviting others to do their best work. Tom, a graphic design and branding specialist, liked that about him, and as their friendship grew they talked about ways they could one day work together. It took 14 years and separate tracks through the corporate world, but this past February, Geoff and Tom launched their own collective creative effort: Batch Men’s: Casual Shirts for Today’s Modern Man.
Geoff was working as a designer at Fort Myers-based Chico’s, following stints at Tommy Hilfiger, Talbots and DKNY. He decided to take the leap of entrepreneurship after discovering that menswear is an emerging niche market in the fashion world.
“I figured, what better time start something?” commented Geoff. “A shirt company – yes there are a lot out there – but there are not a lot of new companies. Plus, the shirt companies that are out there are mostly custom. The custom trend is good, but there’s not a lot of creative design in it. Design is my background and I have a love of actual true design.”
So Geoff, already Fort Myers-based, convinced Tom and his family to relocate to Southwest Florida in 2015 and begin a brand they hope will one day be a household name.
Tom brings experience doing digital and web design for fashion designers like Marc Eckô as well as record labels. He previously was the creative director at a boutique marketing agency. “I led a team of designers, developers, copywriters and cinematographers in developing successful brand identities, web sites and national television commercials. I left there after 10 years to move to Florida and start Batch with Geoff.”
Geoff says Tom is the stable one, balancing out Geoff’s visionary ideas. Over the past year and a half, the men have fine-tuned their product, working out design issues and gaining a deeper understanding of their target audience.
The concept behind Batch is to offer quality over quantity by producing shirts in small batches. Attention to detail is translated not only in the look and feel of the product but in the buying experience as well. The company’s demographic is men 25-35 who enjoy quality and tasteful merchandise and care about the products they purchase. The company has a big following in California.
But it’s more than shirts – it’s a lifestyle. “A great life can’t be mass produced,” believes Geoff. Today, the company makes only shirts, but a full line of menswear is in sight, and eventually “…a whole universe, maybe even a hotel one day,” smiles Geoff. “Seriously! As we grow, there is nothing that shouldn’t be batch made.”
Sit with Geoff long enough and you realize he is not kidding. He labels his choice to launch Batch a “calling” and a “worthwhile challenge.” And it seems a challenge is precisely what drives his creative ambitions.
“Menswear is probably one of the hardest lines ever to be successful in. Second to that, menswear online. Then, men’s online shirts … that’s even harder. Then I chose an exclusive factory in India. I stacked everything against myself,” explains Geoff. “I wanted a challenge that would excite me and turn my brain on. Fashion is tough. You make it one day, and you’re out the next. It’s not for the faint of heart.”
The factory in India that makes Batch shirts is an integral part of the company. The team chose to partner with one exclusive factory so they could control the quality and destiny of the company. Thanks to technology, Geoff works from the comfort of his home office with his partner in India to design and tweak shirts, and can have a sample in his hands within a week. Even this design process is considered part of the Batch lifestyle.
Geoff explains, “Because I have worked in corporate my whole career, I understand processes, but I also understand the layers that slow things down and don’t need to happen.”
“We get to be nimble,” adds Tom. “We get to offer quality without all the waste.”
Batch shirts are sold direct-to-consumer, all online, with free shipping and free returns on all products. The vision for the company’s future expansion also is online. Tom and Geoff believe there is no reason not to order from home.
“That’s just the new business model that people understand and are slowly embracing. You have everything at your fingertips. You can live in a small town in Nebraska and find us and have a world-class experience,” says Geoff. “Online has changed everything.”
Anywhere from 20 to 50 shirts are made at a time once a design is final. The majority of the line is cut from 100% mercerized cotton, which is the key benefit of Batch shirts. The mercerization process allows the fabric to accept 25% more color saturation than non-mercerized cotton, and is the reason Batch shirts have such rich colors and maintain them longer than shirts made of normal cotton. The mercerized cotton also makes the shirts extremely soft. Single needle stitching is used along with Mother of Pearl buttons for all lines, which include Utility (the company’s most popular line), Casual, Business Casual, Dress, and Collarless (which will be introduced this summer). Shirt prices average $80.
“‘You get what you pay for’ is an adage that has always existed,” explains Geoff. “Americans lost sight of it for a couple years, but that is switching. The trend is moving away from mass production, and that’s what we’re about: a world-class experience, quality over quantity, a lifestyle of Batch.”
To learn more about how the Batch menswear fashion company deepened its start-up roots in our back yard, visit it online at www.batchmens.com. Be sure to check out Geoff and Tom’s blog as well, which features articles on topics such as non-iron vs. formaldehyde-free shirts and whether a black or white shirt is more versatile.
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