And All Citizens was born. The Singapore-headquartered athleisure brand aimed to democratise men’s comfort.
“Why are comfort and affordability mutually exclusive?” Charbonnet asked. “Marketising comfort is our mission. We aim to make products of very high quality, high-performing comfort but at a much more accessible price point,” the former Amazon employee told Inside Retail. “I aim to address the average person’s common frustration with specific garments.
The menswear brand, which recently raised $1.2 million in pre-seed funding, has registered impressive triple-digit growth since its launch. The investors include Nino Ulsamer, co-founder and chief technology officer of StashAway, and a notable family office that was an early investor in unicorns like Impossible Foods and Cariuma.
The men’s athleisure market is worth about $150 billion globally and is growing at an impressive 9 per cent annually. This means the untapped opportunities are plenty for premium and performance-driven brands like All Citizens. Additionally, the pandemic has had a positive impact on the athleisure and activewear market. Consumers have begun to seek comfortable athleisure alternatives to workplace-demanded formal attire.
The global activewear industry is forecast to be worth about $550 billion in another two years, Allied Market Research states. With brands looking at experiential retailing, athleisure sits right among the fast-growing apparel segments. Established brands have started to look beyond the metros – another buoyant indicator for the overall industry.
All Citizens aims to capitalise on this emerging trend by catering to men’s evolving needs.
With a customer base of over 20,000 in America and Canada, All Citizens’ revenue grew by 300 per cent last year.
“Consumer trends are always changing. Men [have been] getting a little bit educated about the wardrobe over two decades now,” Charbonnet said.
The All Citizens range also includes performance-based menswear from wrinkle-resistant dress shirts to T-shirts.
“In our experience, two sets of customers are driving our growth. First, the graduating class of customers, who’re growing into comfort and willing to pay extra. In the long run, they will find that they’re spending around the same price or even less, since our products are durable and last for years,” he said.
The second set is buyers who no longer want to splash exorbitant money on undergarments, yet, want to enjoy comfort at an affordable price, Charbonnet explained.
Customer is king
What sets apart All Citizens is Charbonnet’s readiness to alter the offerings based on customers’ feedback.
“When we launched, we had one product: underwear. Around 30 per cent of customers returned the underwear,” Charbonnet recalled.
He contacted all the dissatisfied customers for a critique. Their responses packed a surprise for him.
“Almost every single one of them wrote, ‘This is my favourite and one of the most comfortable ones I’ve ever bought, the features and fabric are very comfortable but the legs are too tight,’ ” he said.
After collecting the data of men’s thigh circumference, Charbonnet discovered a subset of athletic men with large thighs.
“The second product we launched was specific to athletically built men. We’ve two fits: standard and athletic. They’re almost similar but the athletic ones have larger leg openings. It immediately became the bestseller. Those are almost custom-designed to men with larger thighs,” he explained.
A patent-pending design of All Citizens’ underwear also emerged from customers’ appeals.
“Especially in the Asian weather, with boxer briefs, it gets hot and sweaty down there. Without trying to sound graphic, one’s ‘family jewels’ stick to the thighs and this is a major problem,” he said.
“So, we came up with the solution Paradise Pockets. You drop your ‘jewels’ into this pocket and no longer have to readjust and separate from the thighs. This is now a best-hit feature. Attention to detail like this helped us stand out and connect with customers,” he explained.
With the help of recent investment, All Citizens wants to enter Australia and the UK, alongside the European and American market. In Asia, the key focus will be on Hong Kong and Singapore where the spending power is similar to the western markets.