Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Playing the (Sale) Game

Cyber Monday extended “one more day” is the theme of my inbox this morning:
“Cyber Monday Extended | 45% Off Sitewide Today Only”
“SALE EXTENDED: Extra 20% Off & Cyber Monday Deals + Free Shipping!”
“Cyber Tuesday: extra day to save 40% off + free shipping & new markdowns”

Last week it was Black Friday starting on Monday:
“Happy Monday! Black Friday Deals 4 Days Early”
“Black Friday is Here: The Deals You've Been Waiting For!”

The holiday shopping game has begun. It’s enough to make Holiday shopping down right stressful.
“Ending... 25% off site wide [last chance]”

Is it really my “last chance”? Do I need to jump in my car and head to the nearest mall right NOW? Or, even easier, whip out my credit card and shop online before breakfast?

Now that I own a small manufacturing company I am learning the real truth behind the Sale Game. Large manufacturers who produce their products in massive quantities overseas are marking those products up 3 or 4 times, often more. If you buy a $70 sweatshirt on sale for $35, the company is still making money as they may have paid only $6 to produce it. Even after adding shipping charges, storage, import fees and merchandising costs the manufacturer can still be making a profit.

In my opinion the Sale Game is a manipulative mind game using the American public as pawns.

Here at Altus we don’t play the game. We take our pricing very seriously and often price our products below “normal” mark-ups of twice cost. We analyze our costs for each product then decide if our price is reasonable. If not, we mark up our costs LESS than double. Far less than imported products are marked up. For us, there is no game to play to get the best deals because there is no wiggle room in our pricing. It’s reasonable, not random.

We recently reduced the price of our Pullover Hoodie as our Holiday Gift to our customers. No need to shop on a special “Friday” or a certain “Monday” to get a discount. The new price is permanently reduced to $35. This product cost us $41.67 to produce.

Why does it cost so much to produce compared to imported products? (Think of the $6 sample above).
The fabric was knitted for us in Los Angeles, but because we ordered less than the minimum yardage we had to pay a “sample” fee plus 20% more per yard. In the apparel manufacturing industry, every penny counts and we paid a lot more pennies per yard of fabric than the large Big Box manufacturers. Even our labels were made in Florida at more than 3 times the cost per label than those made in China.

There is a wonderful company I have come across that believes, like we do, in fair pricing based on actual costs, not random numbers. The company is Everlane and I have enjoyed both their beautiful photography and their simple clear messages in their emails. No Sale Game with them.

And no Sale Game with Altus! We hope you have a wonderful Holiday season and enjoy the shopping experience without losing in the Sale Game.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


I had a meeting today with a landscape contractor that I design for. He had recently met with a potential client who he thought (because of the name and address) was going to be a basketball celebrity. It turned out to not be the case.

However, this landscape contractor thought that I, being the owner of a tall men's clothing company, would automatically know this retired basketball star. But I do not. My son, and the inspiration for this company, has no interest in playing basketball despite his tall frame. He is passionate about computer science and soccer. His summer internship is developing software for 3D printing technology.

There isn't really a theme to this blog, rather a mother's rambling about her tall son not being at all interested in basketball and the need to find him some new pants for his summer job!

I went online at JC Penney because they typically offer some choices in 38" inseams. I happened to notice their 30" inseam jeans had a selection of 160 or so options. The 36" dwindled down to about 60 choices. By the time you got to the 38 inseam, the jeans were $10 more and only had 12 choices!

This is my frustration and the reason why my family began a tall men's clothing store. I'll insert here how much I want to thank all our customers and supporters!

I did order a couple pairs of 34 x 38 Levis through JC Penney's website as we are not currently offering jeans on our website, altusmenswear.com. Yet I do hope our future will lead to a one-stop shopping experience for all you extra-tall guys!

Have a wonderful summer and thank you again for supporting our family business!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Reminiscing: One Year!

Guest Blog by Phil Williamson, Altus Menswear Vice President and Director of Marketing (and part-time TALL model):

On the one year anniversary of launching our website, I thought I would share a nostalgic look back at the meandering journey that led to us starting Altus.

It was 2011 when Andrea and I came up with the idea of starting a clothing company for tall men like our son Carter. The idea was born out of our collective frustration with finding anything that remotely fit his (as his sister likes to say) “freakishly tall” body.

My wife and "freakishly tall" son on his college campus.
Being chronically risk adverse, the idea of sinking money into a business that I knew virtually nothing about – with two kids in college - during the great recession - was petrifying.  And, in retrospect, my apprehensions were well warranted. It took two years of bouncing around the harbor like a drunken sailor before we actually began our voyage and had product to sell.

But we knew that the idea was a good one. The big and tall stores were clearly skewed toward the “big” guys and the established retailers were not serving tall and extra-tall, thin and athletically built men at all.

Our vision was to fill this void with stylish, American-made, high-quality, (preferably organic) knits that would keep their size and shape and to provide vertically gifted guys with well fitting casualwear that compliment their impressive physiques, allowing them to stand out in a crowd for all the right reasons!

Initially, we thought we were going to be resellers. But after attending a few trade shows, I figured out what everyone else at the shows already knew - I had no idea what I was doing there. It was immediately apparent that we were too small and inexperienced to be taken seriously by the wholesalers. Conversely, the quality and style of clothes that were available were not what we had envisioned – mostly cheap synthetics from Asia that nobody under 40 (that didn’t play golf) would be caught dead in.

Next, we had the harebrained idea that we would manufacture our clothes in our family room. After all, Andrea is quite a good seamstress and had sewn my dress shirts throughout our marriage. So we bought rolls of fabric, a serger and top-stitcher (cover-stitch) machine and set up shop. Now we were spending money like drunken sailors!

Well, as it turns out, industrial equipment is a lot different than consumer sewing machines. After a maddening (and slightly comical) few days of trying to thread the "serger" (overlock), we decided to leave the heavy lifting to the professionals. We eventually lined up a great team; a pattern maker (in Seattle), domestic fabric manufacturers (in Los Angeles) and an awesome local sewing contractor (in Auburn, WA). Andrea’s cousin is a very talented (and generous) marketing professional who saved us from ourselves and a photographer friend was super patient with us and managed to make our clothes look great on even the goofiest looking model (me).

A year ago this month, we received our first shipment of product. It was a long, often humbling education in starting a business, but also very rewarding. Especially for Carter and me since we get to keep the prototypes! Now, we have both have closets full of clothes that actually fit!

Over the past year we have sold our clothes in over half the states in the nation as well a bunch of other countries. We have a lot of ideas for new products, styles and fits for year two and look forward to expanding and refining our line of clothes. We welcome your feedback and suggestions to assure Altus is providing the clothes you want!

This blog's guest author, Phil, going off to work in his new Altus shirt!

In the meantime, let us know if you are interested in buying a (hardly used) serger or top-stitcher. J

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Competition & the Necessities

Since beginning my online store for Tall & Extra-Tall Men, I have kept an eye on the competition.  I use this term lightly as we (meaning those online tall men's clothing companies I have found) have different marketing styles and target consumers.  However, one thing we all strive to accomplish is giving the tall man a comprehensive place to shop for his fashion needs.

But what are those complete necessities?

According to Forbes there are 10 Wardrobe Staples Every Man Should Have in his closet.  The first item noted is a great pair of khaki pants.  Although Altus doesn't (yet) offer them, another online retailer for tall men does.  Consider Teal Apparel for your tall khaki pant needs.  They ship their pants with an inseam of 40" unfinished so you can hem to your own required tall size!  As an added bonus, they (like Altus) are made in the USA.

Men's Fitness offers a bit more relaxed essentials list with their "10 Casual Wardrobe Essentials for Men".  We like # 4, a Classic Grey Sweatshirt, and #10, Comfy Sweat Shorts, both available for tall men through Altus.  For the essential #2 White T-Shirt consider Beanstalk Apparel, a Canadian company for tall people.

Esquire gives us 25 Essential Apparel Items.  Khaki pants for tall men can be found, as noted above, via Teal Apparel.  Esquire's recommended striped dress shirt will soon be available for Tall & Extra-Tall Men through Altus.

Huffington Post lists out 17 Essential Items Every Guy Should Own.  We especially like #12, a plain solid-colored hoodie, and #13, solid-colored crew neck T-shirts.  On the other hand, we feel the #14 solid-colored crew neck sweater could be substituted with a great tall men's sweatshirt.

My statement above, that online tall men's retailers have different "target consumers", stems from the fact that, although most of us strive to dress men 6'3" and taller,  just as there are a multitude of styles for all men, so there should be a multitude of styles for tall men.  Tall men vary in age, daily apparel needs and style preferences.  We would love to see a store that can completely meet the needs for all Tall and Extra-Tall men.  We keep working toward that goal at Altus.

Sunday, September 29, 2013

2013 Fall Runway Recap

Last week my husband, Phil, and I had the pleasure of attending the Nordstrom Men's Shop & GQ Fall 2013 Runway Show in Bellevue, WA. As co-founders of Altus Menswear, we know we need to keep up with fashion trends in menswear!

There were a few key statements made during the introduction by GQ Style Expert, Peter St. John, such as emphasizing "looking your best at all times" and "wear it with confidence and you could kill it!" (I made frantic notes in my program so as to get his statements word for word.) Peter's comment about looking your best at all times really hit home with us. Looking your best translates into wearing apparel that fits you properly, even if it's just a T-shirt or a pair of sweats.

Altus Menswear co-founders, Phil & Andrea Williamson, after the Fall Men's 2013 Runway Show.
Phil is wearing an Altus Organic Cotton Striped T-Shirt.
Fashion pieces need to work for you in multiple situations. As Peter St. John continued, "regardless of the trend, it's versatile." We agree! At Altus we focus on basic, classic pieces for tall men that provide the foundation of a versatile wardrobe. Phil's Organic Cotton Striped Tee is a perfect example. He wore it with a black jacket for our evening out and has worn it with shorts on relaxing weekends.
As local celebrity models walk the runway at the end of the show, Phil snaps a photo of Seattle Sounders players, Midfielder Andy Rose and Goalkeeper Michael Gspurning.
The Runway Show ticket sales directly benefited local charities through the Detlef Schrempf Foundation. Standing at 6'-9" retired Seattle SuperSonics player, Detlef, can easily wear Altus size Extra Tall!

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Famous Men 6'4" or Taller Who Don't (or didn't) Play Basketball

First let's be clear.  We LOVE basketball and all those tall men and women who play it!  But if you're over 6'3" tall and don't play basketball, you might be like Altus co-founder, Carter.  At 6'8" he can't walk into a room without being asked if he plays basketball.  He doesn't.  Carter's passions are soccer, mountain biking and beach volleyball.  And he's not alone. Just for fun we compiled a list of tall guys that have done something else.  If you think of more, send us an email (support@altusmenswear.com) and we'll add their name to our list!

Anthony Robbins6'7"Motivational Speaker
Brad Garrett6'9"Actor
Bruce Hornsby6'4"Musician
Chevy Chase6'4"Actor
Christopher Lee6'5"Actor
Clint Eastwood6'4"Actor
Conan O'Brien6'4"Entertainer
David Hasselhoff6'4"Actor
Donald Sutherland6'4"Actor
Ed "Too Tall" Jones6'9"Football Player
Fred Thompson6'6"Politician
Howard Hughes6'4"Business Magnate
Howard Stern6'5"Radio Personality
Hulk Hogan6'7"Wrestler
Ivo Karlovich6'10"Tennis Player
James Arnes6'7"Actor
James Brolin6'4"Actor
James Cromwell6'7"Actor
Jeff Goldbloom6'4"Actor
Joey Ramone6'7"Musician
John Cleese6'5"Comedian
John Kerry6'4"Politician
John Mayer6'4"Musician
Liam Neeson6'4"Actor
Lyndon B Johnson6'4"Politican
Michael Clark Duncan 6'5"Actor
Michael Crichton6'9"Author
Peter Crouch6'7"Soccer Player
Peter the Great6'8"Russian Emporer
Randy Johnson6'10"Baseball Player
Richard Kiel7'2"Actor (played Jaws in Spy Who Loved Me)
Rock Hudson6'4"Actor
Roger Waters6'4"Musician
Stephen Merchant6'7"Actor
Ted Cassidy6'10"Actor (played Lurch in the Adams Family)
Tim Robbins6'5"Actor
Usama Bin Laden6'6"Terrorist
William Gates II6'6"Philanthropist

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Donate Too-Short Clothing to Support a Cause

If you're like many of our tall Altus customers, in the past you have purchased clothes at a regular men's store (maybe even in the "tall" section) but then have to donate them after they're washed because they shrink and no longer fit you!  This happened to our family more times than I can count, which is partly the reason we make our own patterns.

But this blog isn't about us and our frustrations with buying tall clothing.  It's about a fundraiser for a soccer team!  

Who doesn't love this world-wide sport that emblazons 5-year-olds with a spirit that can remain all the way through adulthood!  This also happened to our family.  

My husband, co-founder of Altus Menswear, is a soccer fanatic.  Actually, that is an understatement.  He is involved in many Futbol teams, leagues, tournaments and cups as a fan, player, coach and (briefly) a referee.  As a coach he has been deeply rewarded by watching the progress of his players.  These same players are raising money while keeping clothing out of landfills with a wonderful program:  Clothes for the Cause

There are many, many causes to support and if you have read my earlier blog about our model participating in the Relay for Life you know that we, too, are supporting multiple causes.  But this week we are donating our too-short clothing in support of the Cascade FC B97 team!

Altus Menswear co-founder, 6'4" tall, plays his favorite sport!

Altus model, now at 6'8" tall, when he was a little younger (and a couple inches shorter) playing high school soccer.