If you’re a normal guy, chances are shirts made for “normal guys” don’t fit you as well as they should. (If you’re the type who has the exact proportions for off-the-rack shirts, though, we salute you, your genes, and whatever exercise program you’re following.) The trick of well-dressed men with perfect-fitting shirts has long been to take their button-ups to the tailor to get a few darts sewn into the back, at the very least. But anyone who’s spent much time at a tailor knows those tabs can add up fast. Unfortunately, custom-made shirts aren’t cheap, either. Or at least they haven’t been: Woodies, a company based out of New York City and founded by former menswear buyer Jacob Wood, is out to solve that. To mark Woodies first sale on Gilt City, we hit up Mr. Wood himself to talk about making the perfect shirt, accommodating unusual body types, and the name behind the brand.
What is your background, and how did you come to found Woodies?
I’ve worked in the buying offices of some major department stores and some other specialty stores. I always knew I wanted to start a company, it was just a matter of finding the right time and product. In my latest position I was a buyer of cargo shorts—and that’s when I decided something needed to change. Originally I was talking to my uncle, and he suggested I start a long underwear company and name it Woodies (playing off my last name, Wood). Long story short, I decided to do shirts—but I loved the name and we kept it!
Why shirts? What was the need you saw in the market?
Shirts have always been my favorite. I think for a lot of guys, a good shirt is the focal point of their wardrobe—it’s something you can plan around. I’ve also worked a lot with shirts in my past jobs, and I’ve found that there’s a huge need in the men’s world for well-fitted button-ups. The problem is we settle for stuff made for thousands of other men, so we compromise—whether it’s baggy sleeves, a shirt that’s too short, or a collar and cuff we just don’t like. The typical retail model of mass manufacturing stuff doesn’t make as much sense as it used to, so I figured I could sell directly to people via the internet, at the same prices as big-name retailers. The huge difference is that this shirt was made especially for you, everything from the fabric, to the size, to the customization of the details. I started Woodies because I don’t believe in settling for something that isn’t uniquely yours.
What is your process for getting measurements and submitting them?
It’s easy. A person would go to www.woodiesclo.com, pick their shirt, make the customizations, and enter their measurements. We have videos and instructions accompanying each measurement (there’s eight of them), and all you need is a tape measurer. It’s a very intuitive process, and for anyone with questions we have chat available for support. If you’re not interested in measuring yourself, or you don’t have the time or patience, you can fill in standard measurements that don’t require a tape measurer—neck and sleeve length, and a couple other basic measurements like height and weight.
For those who have athletic builds and broad shoulders—or, for those if us who spend far too many hours at the office and far too few at the gym—tell me about how your design process can help accommodate different body types.
I think the largest chest size we’ve had was 56″—it was submitted by a CrossFit enthusiast in Las Vegas. Conversely, we’ve had chest sizes as small at 34″. Like I mentioned above, the design and measuring process accommodates all tastes and preferences, as well as all sizes. The best thing is that once you enter your measurements in and create a profile, everything is saved on file. Reordering is the easiest thing.
Beyond fit, what other aspects of the shirt can the customer customize?
Our customers can choose everything from the collar to the cuff to the pocket. In total there’s six areas on the shirts you customize—enough to empower our customer without overwhelming him with options.
What else does Woodies do, and what’s next for the company?
Our goal is to make the best shirt and that’s where all of our focus is right now. Once Woodies shirts are on the backs of every working man in The States, we’ll be happy and possibly think about expanding the assortment to pants and other categories.