Altus Menswear, Inc.
Tell us about your business.I began Altus because of the tall men in my family. My husband is 6’4” and our 20-year-old son is 6’8”. They are both on the lean side. It has been nearly impossible to find clothes that properly fit them. Our son, like a lot of tall, young men, has had to improvise with XXL shirts that fit like a sack or regular T-shirts that are too short and dress shirts, except for the one I custom made him, always require that he roll up the sleeves. As a mother, the frustrations of shopping for my son's non-standard size inspired me to start Altus and address the casual apparel needs of men over 6'3" that need TALL not Big & Tall clothes! After I had an initial pattern block made by a professional, I am using my 40 years of home sewing experience and make all our patterns by hand. A small clothing manufacturer near our home cuts and sews our products. The apparel industry has not been easy to learn and it took 2 years to get our first products, but we finally launched our online store this May!
What makes your business stand out?In May 2011, I took my son to be fitted for his senior prom tux. At the time he was 6'7". Across the street from the tux shop was a "Big & Tall" store that had sizes listed in the window, one of which was LT. My son nagged me to take him and buy him some shirts. The cashier, apologetically, told us there were maybe two shirts in the whole store that "might" fit my son. I mumbled something like, "I'm so frustrated, I'm tempted to start my own clothing line for thin tall men." This was the beginning of the idea that became Altus. Since opening our store, I've become aware of a few other companies (many of which have also started this past summer) who are targeting our same size demographic. The apparel industry makes it a challenge to produce special sizes due to the high costs associated with small production. I expect to succeed thanks to my many years of sewing and pattern experience. I recently went back to the original Big & Tall store. They still have no LT sizes in stock!
What's the best business advice you've received?I have a cousin who is a highly talented graphic designer and the feedback she gave us on our original website was invaluable. I never really understood the importance of branding and marketing, or had even paid much attention to photography. She helped us create a logo, organize our site, and really bring our online store to a higher level of professionalism to give that important first impression. Now, whenever I look at other online retailers, I find myself analyzing them thanks to her advice and expert analysis of our website. My cousin also suggested we consider advertising and marketing before we received our initial products. I chose not to do this; perhaps because of the expression on my son's face when he went into the Big & Tall store that listed LT as a size in the window display, only to find out it was not in stock. I didn't want to disappoint customers by not being able to fulfill their order immediately. I don't know yet if I regret not following all the advice given!
Mark Your Calendar
NominationsJune 3–Aug. 29, 2014
Nominate yourself or other aspiring makers.
JudgingJune 23–Sept. 9, 2014
Judges will select finalists throughout this period.Meet the judges
Online VotingSept. 15–Oct. 13, 2014
Vote for your favorite American makers.Vote now
Winners AnnouncedOct. 17, 2014
2014 Award Winners and Audience Choice Winner announced.See past Award Winners
American Made EventNov. 7–8, 2014
Join us for our annual event in New York City.Buy tickets now