Ryan Bartlett didn’t have a fashion background but he knew what he didn’t like when it came to a menswear staple: the T-shirt. “The cheap ones fell apart and the good ones cost $50 or more,” he said. He thought he could better.
So he teamed up with Nick Ventura, who had cofounded the men’s basics brand Venley, and Matthew Winnick, who had a financial background, to create True Classic.
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They started out with one T-shirt in a variety of colors and offered it directly to consumers on their website. They didn’t think much of it initially — “It was a side project,” said Bartlett, whose background is in digital marketing. But to their surprise, the product started gaining traction and in its first month True Classic sold $20,000 worth of Ts, a number that ballooned to $200,000 within five months, Bartlett said.
They have since expanded into polos, henleys, joggers, shorts, hoodies, sweatpants and other menswear basics, all with the same ethos: comfortable product at a reasonable price. A six-pack of T-shirts retails for $89.99, a fleece jacket and jogger is $49.99, and a polo is $25.99. Denim and activewear will be launching shortly, Bartlett said. The brand offers a range of sizes, from small to XXL.
The customer response was swift and True Classic is projecting sales will hit $250 million this year.
Now True Classic is making the move outside the U.S. border. It has partnered with Global-e, a company that helps businesses expand internationally, to launch this week in the U.K., Canada, Australia and New Zealand.
Bartlett said the plan is to start with English-speaking countries before expanding to other regions. “We want to test this on a smaller scale to see what works and what doesn’t,” he said.
Down the road, Bartlett said True Classic is exploring opening a retail store in its hometown of Los Angeles with a partner so “customers can get their hands on the product.”
The company has a strong philanthropic bent. It works with local homeless organizations in L.A. and donates more than 20,000 pieces every month to various charities.