Gustin denim is high quality stuff, but at a low price. This is thanks to their new method of buying jeans–crowdsourcing. By allowing you, the consumer, to fund which styles you want, they make sure the unpopular styles go unfunded and they don’t spend time making something nobody will want. Well, the problem is, people turned out wanting all the styles, and now a small $20,000 fundraiser is nearing $130,000. Interested to know more about Gustin and what they plan to do with all that extra money, I asked co-founder Josh Gustin some questions.
Electrogent: Introduce yourself for those who might not know you.
Josh: I’m Josh Gustin. I’m a true Berkeley native who went to Berkeley High, Cal Berkeley undergrad and Cal Berkeley Business School. I’m 34 and live in San Francisco.
E: What is Gustin, and how is it different from other denim brands?
J: We really don’t think of Gustin as a denim brand. We’re starting something much bigger. Our goal is to truly redefine premium menswear. We envision a powerful alternative to traditional retail that changes the way garments are designed, priced and delivered.
E: So, if I understand it correctly, you had different styles of jeans and once people put in enough “orders” by funding the particular style, you start production. It’s like a guaranteed supply and demand, right, because you’ll never have a wasteful surplus, nor money-losing unfilled orders. Do you have plans to take this off Kickstarter and roll this business model over into your own website?
J: Yes, our vision extends well beyond the launch on Kickstarter. Imagine navigating to a wonderfully curated online storefront. You can browse an entire collection of premium, San Francisco made, menswear. When you see a style you like, you back it. When enough of our fans tell us they want a style, we go into production and ship you your garment at wholesale. This is a big change to any fashion model that currently exists. We’re super excited to do this and feel our launch on Kickstarter has really proven how hungry people are for this experience.
J: Gustin really started in 2006. I was in grad school getting my MBA. While everyone else was going off to their banking or consulting internships, I decided I was going to teach myself how to make the perfect pair of jeans. I was drawn to denim because it’s a timeless garment that has been a huge part of people’s lives for over a 100 years. I loved the material and the craft of it. I loved making something real. I was fortunate enough to connect with amazing people in the industry who helped me learn and launch a number of premium denim lines prior to the launch on Kickstarter.
E: Why did you choose to utilize Kickstarter, and why do you think your campaign was so successful?
J: We chose Kickstarter because we wanted to see if this was something people were interested in, before we got too deep. I think we’ve been successful for a few reasons. First – it’s a quality product, and we have a history of producing high quality goods. Second – we’re listening to our audience. They wanted more Japanese denim, so we did a roadtrip down to LA and bought a ton of it for them. They wanted a wider range of sizes, and we’ve added two in for Kickstarter. Third – we really try to be responsive to our backers questions. They deserve it and we’re working our hardest to build an ongoing dialog.
E: You only asked for $20,000 in your Kickstarter campaign, and as I write this you’re nearing $130,000. How does this change your original plans (if at all), and what do you plan on doing with that huge sum of extra cash?
J: We’ll use most of that money to buy denim, pay the craftsman in San Francisco, and ship the jeans all over the world. With what we have leftover, we will build our online storefront, and start creating samples to put up. These last two steps are a lot of effort, and the more we can raise on Kickstarter, the faster we’ll be able to get them in place.
E: If someone wanted to start a denim company, what three pieces of advice would you give them?
J: Expect the unexpected. Clothing design and manufacture is still very much an art. That’s the best part about it!
E: What would you do differently from the start if you had to start Gustin all over again?
J: At this point we like the direction we’re heading in and the excitement people have for the brand. We’re so thankful to our supporters and backers all over the world. The history of learning the craft hands on is not something we would ever change. That experience has positioned us to deliver on this new promise.
E: San Francisco is home to some really great denim brands like Levi’s and Tellason. How does the city inspire Gustin?
J: For us, San Francisco is our home. We’re natives and keeping the design and manufacturing at home is something we are very proud of. Although the fashion community in SF may be smaller than in other cities, we have a real focus on quality and authenticity. That is what the best denim brands believe in and San Francisco brings that out in us.
E: Is there anything else you’d like to say?
J: We’ve been truly humbled by the support we’ve received so far on Kickstarter, and can’t wait to start shipping.
So what do you think? Would you use Gustin denim, and do you like this new idea for buying denim? Share your thoughts in the comments below.