Written by The Business Journal Staff
The Sacramento-based clothier known for outfitting politicians throughout the state opens its location in north Fresno’s Park Place Shopping Center next week.
Founder and owner Ryan Hammonds said R. Douglas is unique in that it offers premium suits without the premium price tag.
“R. Douglas started in 2003 when I needed custom suits and I basically had two options. One, I could go to a very expensive custom clothier in Sacramento that had been in business for a number of years but was quite out of date and wasn’t really connecting with what my needs were as far as the fit and styling, or two, go to a traveling tailor or department store,” Hammonds said.
“I set out to find something in the middle. I was a young guy and couldn’t pay a $3,000 price tag for a suit, so that led to the start of R. Douglas clothier. I decided I would try to cut out a lot of middle men and move through the distribution channels and make a high end custom tailored suit with a modern approach and do it at a department store price point.”
Today, R. Douglas, the clothier, does sell the expensive $3,000, $4,000 and even $5,000 suit, but the cost is all related to the quality of fabric, Hammonds said, and a customer can purchase a high-end custom fit and styled suit starting at $899, with the average suit going for $1,000 to $1,200.
Hammonds well-priced as well as trendy approach has brought his young company fast success in Sacramento. At first, R. Douglas was a mobile clothier, traveling from customer to customer, but as word of mouth spread, Hammonds was soon able to open a brick and mortar store downtown, close to the government officials that made up a large portion of his client base.
Opening a second location in Fresno is ideal, Hammonds said, because it allows him to be closer to his wife’s family and it is convenient for some of his existing clients.
“I’ve come and done a few trunk shows here, so I’ve built a small client base and it just seems like Fresno needs something like this,” Hammonds said. “My wife is happy we’ll be in Fresno a bit more. It’s close enough in proximity to Sacramento that I can get here and manage and ensure the success of a second store.”
The success of R. Douglas is counter to the current workplace wear trend, which is exceedingly more business casual as less companies expect employees to dress in their Sunday best Monday through Friday.
In many industries, the classic suit and tie combo has been replaced with a more relaxed, yet still clean and professional, look. For men, this means slacks and a button up shirt without a jacket and tie, or even a nice pair of dark wash jeans paired with a polo.
Mark Astone, CEO of Catalyst Marketing Company, said he and his employees dress to mirror the client they are meeting with on a particular day. Catalyst currently serves more than 40 clients in a variety of industries. The majority of clients, Astone said, keep it business causal.
“I think there is a fine line because if you overdress, you lose that edge; it’s best to find the middle ground beyond business casual, but not full suit and tie,” Astone said. “Ties are long gone for the most part. On the upper end dressy side, we typically wear slacks and a collared shirt, with or without a jacket.”
While Astone warns of overdressing, Denham Resources President Kathy Bray said being underdressed is more of a concern in the workplace as the term “business casual” is open to varying interpretations.
“Business casual is not casual,” Bray said. “A large portion of our clients have a business casual dress code but that is always subjective. While it means you don’t have to wear a suit, it doesn’t mean jeans or leggings are okay…it can be confusing because fashion magazines encourage younger professionals to be edgy and wear that skirt with the slit up the side or wear a cami under a jacket, but I don’t know where those people work. Maybe that is okay in some cities, but Fresno is still very conservative.”
When in doubt, Bray suggests those interviewing for a job at a company call and ask for specifics about the dress code.
“It’s generally better to overdress, but it’s simple just to ask,” Bray said.
When it comes to trends, Astone said ties were the ultimate accessories for self-expression back in the day, but now it’s all about pocket squares and socks.
“The pocket square is the new tie,” Astone said. “People used to wear flamboyant ties and now we do that with pocket squares. It is a fun, interesting trend…In addition to pocket squares, socks are important. You judge a man by his socks and the real trendsetters wear bright colors and patterns, the louder the better. It’s so big for us that if we meet with a new client and they have boring socks, we send them a pair of crazy socks in the mail. It’s become our calling card.”
Though clothier R. Douglas is celebrated for its specialty suits, sported by a variety of professionals from California congressmen to off-court NBA players, the brand also offers everything a businessman needs to dress to impress, from shirts and slacks to ever-popular pocket squares. And though Astone says ties are out of vogue, the R. Douglas tie wall is a popular go-to for customers.
The R. Douglas Sacramento location sells an average of 75 to 100 suits a month, but for every suit, at least two shirts are sold, Hammonds said, and many accessories are sold. Altogether, R. Douglas in Sacramento had $1.7 million in sales last year, Hammonds said.
While wearing suits day-to-day isn’t the norm, Astone said there are always occasions when one is necessary.
“We do get requests to attend events that are black-tie optional and that’s when you want to wear a suit,” Astone said. “Once in a while we also have a formal presentation where we want to wear a suit and tie.”
Whether you don a suit and tie every day or just once in a while, Hammonds said R. Douglas offers an experience unlike any other.
“With the R. Douglas experience, we have fabrics and buttons and trims and thread all sitting out. It’s this big artistic experience where customers can create their own look,” Hammonds said. “Everyone has their own preference and we navigate with them as their stylist and we pull out all the trims. After the styling and trims are selected, they pick their lining, their buttons and all the details. Then they are measured… It’s a one-of-kind experience and I think it will get guys excited about dressing up.”