Chances are you heard about Gustin back when they were raising funds for their (re)launch on Kickstarter. The press was ample, and with good reason. What Gustin promised – top of the line, American-made selvedge jeans for well under $100 – was almost impossible not to get excited about. That the jeans also boasted a classic design and great fit only sweetened the deal. Unsurprisingly, the campaign was a rousing success. Now, four months and almost half a million pledged dollars later, Gustin has officially entered its next phase, launching a fell-fledged online store and beginning to roll out a handful of new non-denim products.
Gustin founder Josh Gustin recently took some time out to discuss high quality, low prices and keeping the brand’s momentum going. Here’s what he had to say.
Well Spent: Give us the Gustin origin story.
Josh Gustin: Gustin started in 2005. 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 is 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 in top boutiques around the country prior to re-launching the brand in 2013.
Tell us about Gustin’s products.
Our design philosophy at Gustin is simple: we design what we want to wear. This means classically styled garments using the best materials and construction techniques available. These are timeless garments that never go out of style. Our roots are in premium denim. We use selvedge denim from the best mills in Japan, Italy and the US.
Now we’re applying the same philosophy to a completed collection. We launched leather accessories and have an amazing button-down on the way. We also care about where our products are made, which is why we have chosen to do all production in the USA. Our denim is sewn in San Francisco. This allows us to live and breath our product. We walk the production floor several times a day, to stay close to the craft we love and to keep quality high.
On your site, you talk about “changing the industry.” What, precisely, are you changing? Why are you trying to change it?
Eight years in traditional retail left us frustrated with that model for a number of reasons. First, designing the highest quality garments and producing them locally meant incredibly high price-points at retail, which excluded a lot of people from enjoying our products. Second, we lacked any connection to the people who wore our designs. This meant always being in state where supply never quite lined up with demand.
On Jan 7th we changed all that. Our goal was to create the first fully crowdsourced premium fashion company. We design high quality, locally produced garments, crowdsource production and then deliver everything at wholesale. Our launch on Kickstarter confirmed that people were ready for a true alternative to traditional retail – we raised almost 450k on a goal of just 20k with the support of 4010 backers.
An even more significant moment came on April 1st 2013 when we launched our own platform at www.weargustin.com under the same crowdsourced model. The response has been equally strong.
How are you able to maintain quality while keeping your prices so low?
We are able to do so by not overproducing. We make exactly what is backed, period. We don’t have to deal with excess inventory, which means we don’t take a hit when a particular fabric or size doesn’t sell. Also, because it’s our business, we aren’t paying anyone to sell our jeans and take a large cut like we would if we sold in a boutique
Aside from the price-point, what sets Gustin’s jeans apart from the rest?
The sense of community we build through crowdsourcing and our commitment to openness and service is a really unique approach for a fashion company. Combine that with our top quality fabrics and fit, subtle yet striking details, and that we offer a great value with a great experience for our supporters.
Are there any new products coming out that you can tell us about?
Gustin is expanding into a true lifestyle brand. We want Gustin customers for life. Our next adventure is going to be men’s button-down shirts. Classic American styling, fabrics from Thomas Mason and from some of our favorite Japanese mills, top notch construction (done in California), all delivered at the same radical prices as our denim and belts.
What would you say to someone who’s still on the fence about buying from Gustin?
Give us a shot. We like to let our products do the talking. We’ve been devoted to the craft of creating the perfect garment for years and we’re more excited than ever to keep that quality but get it you at amazing prices. We’re only successful because of our community of supporters and that’s how we like to keep it.
For price and purchase info, visit Gustin.