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LAYHILL

NAME: LAYHILL

WEBSHOP: LAYHILLCLOTHING.COM

EMAIL: [email protected]

SLOGAN: All of the Above (We initially agreed that we didn't want to have a slogan.  We did some research and found that the brands we wanted to compete with, did not have slogans.  I also think not having a slogan adds a bit of mystery to the brand.  But if we were to use a slogan, it would be "All of the Above".  To me this describes Layhill to the fullest.  We don't want to be put in a box, or categorized, ever.  We want the freedom to do what we want, how we want.  Never being predictable.  And we don't want to just do clothes.  Eventually, we would like to get into designing all types of lifestyle products.  But that comes after we get a handle on menswear.  

LOGO:

WORD MARK:

CUSTOMER PROFILE:

Our target customer is the guy who has grown out of screen printed tees and has graduated to a more sophisticated level of street wear.  Our customer is also be a hipster who loves great quality, attention to detail, and supports American made products.  Finally, our customer is the young kid who wants everyone to know he takes his fashion a little more seriously than his peers, and pays a little extra to have better quality and exclusivity.   

Fall 2013 Release

We named our first collection "Earthly Possessions" because of the earth toned colors used throughout the collection.  The theme name came after all pieces were made up.  In the beginning stages, I was racking my brain trying to make cads and come up with a great collection of pieces.  Then, one day scrolling through Hypebeast, I came across a video featuring Bobby Hundreds talking about his cut and sew process.  He said that his design process begins at the fabric store.  It made so much sense and since then, I started designing around the fabric swatches I would find in local markets first, and creating the cads after.

After no luck getting any of the boutiques we wanted to carry our brand, we decided to sell online only and based our units on our personal preference and public response to each piece.  We decided not to produce the navy and khaki pant, as we figured it would not sell as well being that we were a new brand and khaki and navy were pretty common pant colors.

The fall pieces will retail between $160 and $175.  If we were to sell to a store, it would be at higher end, concentrated menswear boutiques.  We are producing domestically, and most of the fabric is purchased domestically, which is why our price point is what it is.  But also, being that we are a new brand, we did not want to scare away consumers with super high, unjustified prices.  We decided 160-175 would be the perfect balance.  The tee will retail at $70 as the production and material did not cost as much as the other pieces.

  • Denim button down w/ ultra suede collar and elbow patches.  $160.

  • 100% Wool button down w/ ultra suede collar and elbow patches.  $170.

  • White oxford button down w/ tiger camo collar and bottom half combo.  $175.

  • Striped flannel button down.  $160.

  • White oxford button down w/ dyed navy oxford combo.  $175.

  • Plaid button down w/ ultra suede shooting patch, collar, and elbow patches.  $175.

  • Karmin Kass Tee.  $70.

Holiday 2013 Releases

After gauging how much work, time, and money it took to produce our fall collection, we decided it would be more beneficial if we broke up the seasons and had 3 or 4 smaller releases each season.  We thought breaking up the seasons would not only help us financially, but also if we were dropping pieces more often, it would keep the name Layhill fresh in peoples' mind's.

Holiday 2013 Limited Edition Silk Bandana

25"x25" scarf.  Depending on the fabric and printing cost, we were thinking this would retail at $70.

Holiday 2013 1st Release

Lightweight cotton printed button downs will retail around $170.  Medium weight printed cotton pants with drawstring and elastic ribbing at cuffs will retail around $170.

Holiday 2013 2nd Release

Heavyweight quilted cotton crewnecks will retail around $150.  Heavyweight quilted cotton pants with drawstring and elastic ribbing at cuffs will retail around $150.

Holiday 2013 Possible Release

I found this fabric and sewed the sample immediately.  We thought the colors would be great for holiday, but were thinking about making it a short sleeve instead of sleeveless.  Also, we are still debating whether to pair it with coordinating bottoms, or just release it by itself.   

Spring/Summer 2014 1st Release

Colors inspired by Pantone's Spring 2014 color palette.  We are releasing this group 1st because the colors to me say "spring" more than they say "summer"

Spring/Summer 2014 2nd Release

Colors inspired by Pantone's Spring 2014 color palette.  We are releasing this group 2nd because the colors to me say "summer" more than they say "spring"

Spring/Summer 2014 Possible Release

I wanted to do a leather piece for spring.  I found this reptile embossed leather skin but it was very costly and we needed two skins to make one top.  I sewed it myself and decided to make it with a diagonal seam in the center to improve the drape.  I also added a side zipper because the material has very little stretch, and it would make it easier to get into.  If we did decide to release this, it would retail for $400 and would be very limited. 

Back Story:

Layhill was founded in November of 2011 by Bruce Tran, Justin Sokhor and myself.  

In January 2011, I applied to the FIT menswear program. I was living in Maryland at the time, and had my heart set on getting accepted and moving to nyc to pursue my dream.  Waiting for that letter in the mail was painful. I would race home after work and check the mail frantically everyday.  Finally it came, and I was devastated to learn I wasn't accepted.  I was depressed for about 20 minutes and then decided I don't need them to do what I want to do. I decided to take up photography and be a street fashion photographer. I had recently discovered The Sartorialist and thought I could, and should be doing that. I started a blog (juxtapow.com) but soon after realized the DC area was no New York City.  I decided to only cover ny fashion week twice a year. But that alone wouldn't scratch my fashion itch.

In October 2011, I was working for a transportation company as a payroll clerk. They offered me an opportunity to transfer to their New York division. I knew this was our chance to really get our clothing line going.  By this time we were already throwing around a bunch of names and ideas for our new brand.  Now I was in the big apple and would travel back to Maryland almost every weekend and meet with Justin and Bruce to discuss plans.  Finally, on Thanksgiving day 2011, we landed on the name Layhill. It seemed perfect. Simple and ambiguous. Layhill is the name of the  road that connected all of us growing up.  They both agreed it was a great name, and I knew we had something special. Excited for our new endeavor and Thanksgiving dinner, I immediately got to work on our logo.  We met as many times as we could over the next few weeks and were constantly group messaging, pitching ideas back and forth.  

                                       

Justin came up with the concept for our first logo. He sent me a rough sketch and I took it to Illustrator. We eventually scrapped it for various reasons. 

                                      

From the very beginning I stressed that we had to produce in America.  Justin and I bumped heads about this a few times.   And understandably so as he wanted to make our brand as profitable as possible.  Producing in China would be way cheaper than producing in America.  However I was very much into the idea of keeping jobs here, even if it meant paying a little more.  Plus quality control is a big thing for me.  At the time, I was under the impression that China = bad quality and America = good quality.  I found out later those formulas didn't always hold to be true.  But I was determined to produce in New York.  I'm a perfectionist and expect my designs to reflect that.  Also the quality is extremely important to me.  To me quality is more than the type of fabric used or that fabrics stability. It's also the way the garment is constructed, the types of stitches, and seams used to finish the garment.

                                     

With none of us having any professional experience or schooling in fashion, we knew we had a lot of work to do.  We started to research heavily, but all of the answers were not always a google search away like we'd hoped.  However, one search would always lead to a clue, which would lead to another.  Not being a great sketch artist, I knew my designs would look better digitally.  I searched google for menswear sketches and found the phrase 'flat sketch'.  I went to YouTube and found the perfect tutorial for flat sketching a mens button down shirt in Illustrator. It even provided a link to download a male form to sketch around.  I had my brother download Illustrator on my Mac and got familiar.  I must have watched that tutorial a hundred times. I mimicked every stroke, frame by frame until I didn't need it anymore.  The more I worked with Illustrator the more I learned on my own.  And if I needed another tip, it was back to YouTube for a quick lesson on the subject.  While I was teaching myself, I wondered more and more why anyone still went to school for information you can obtain on the Internet for free.  I was now thankful that FIT rejected me. 

Having grown out of my graphic tee phase, I wanted Layhill to be more on the contemporary side while also including streetwear elements.  Our first design was a white oxford button down, with a duck camo collar combo.  

Our next step was to get a sample made.  At the time, Google was still our only resource, so I looked up a few sample makers in the NYC area, introduced myself to factories, and got quotes.  The more quotes I got, the more I figured out who was trying to take advantage of my inexperience, and who was offering fair prices.  

Most places I visited were not what I expected.  The conditions of the sample room were not great, and if they spoke English, it was very little.  The more sample rooms I visited, the more my perception of "Made in America" changed.  As I attained quotes, I noticed everyone asked if I already had a pattern (which I didn't).  I then went home and searched Google for a pattern maker.  

In the meantime I was also designing our duck camo print.  After debating over tens of colorways, we landed on one.  I searched Google for textile printers in the area and got quotes from all of them, as there are only a handful.  After 4 strike off's the color still did not come out exactly as we wanted, but we finally approved one and had 1 yard printed.  

                                         

                                      

                                       

I found a pattern maker on W 39th st and walked in with a button down shirt I owned that fit me relatively well.  He quoted me $150.  I told him what I wanted changed, added, etc.  The pattern maker was extremely helpful and gave me a lot of industry advice.  1 week later the pattern was ready.  I purchased some plain oxford cotton, brought the printed yardage, and went to pick up the pattern.  I asked if he knew of any good sample makers.  He took me down 2 floors and asked them to sew my sample.  They charged me $60.  A few days later it was ready and I was extremely excited to pick it up.  I remember getting there rather late and she had to bring it out to me as the building had closed.  So I waited until I got home to inspect it.  

When I got home, I was less than pleased.  There were multiple things wrong.  Some were minor and some major.  I started to compare the pattern to the sample to see if I could see why there were so many issues.  I realized the pattern was not constructed very well, and could tell the sample was a rush job.  

I'm a very hands on person, and having taken a few architect drafting courses in college, I decided re-creating this pattern could not be so hard.   I went out to buy pattern paper, a rotary cutter, ruler, and a French curve.  I perfected our pattern and we were ready to have our next sample made.  

                                       

Six months after moving to NYC, I obtained a job at a women's apparel group through an old friend.  I could not be happier.  I was in the middle of it all.  Not only was I gaining critical industry information at my day job, but I could go out on my lunch break and handle Layhill business as well.

                                      

My new job also had a sample room, so I decided to make our 2nd sample here.  Using our revised pattern, I cut the fabric and hoped it would come out looking much better.  

The new sample was ready and it looked much better. But it didn't fit exactly the way I wanted. We bought a male form for basic fittings..  One of my co-workers, a technical designer, placed pins in the necessary spots to get it fitting the way I wanted.  She told me to take it home and revise the pattern based on her pins and get a new sample made. 

                                     

The next fit sample came in, and a few minor corrections were needed. The 3rd fit sample was good to go. But by that time, I was tired of the duck camo.  We had recently found some tiger camo fabric that I was much more interested in. Justin said we had to pick one as it didn't make sense to sell two camo shirts, as we'd be competing with ourselves.  He made a good point, especially since we were producing a limited amount of units.  We benched the duck and put the tiger in the game.  

                                    

Fast forward to November 2012. One year later we had found a plaid, wool, a striped flannel, and a denim to go along with our white/navy Oxford and white/tiger camo button downs.  It was time to make our photo shoot samples for our lookbook but something was missing on the tiger camo shirt. With just Camo on the collar and top of pocket, there was a lot of negative space. At the last minute, I decided to add camo to the bottom half of the shirt. I cut the fabric, took a picture, and sent it to Justin and Bruce hoping they would agree it looked better.   

                                     

They agreed and we were almost ready to shoot the lookbook.  

While we were waiting for the last of the samples to be sewn, I grew impatient.  I didn't like waiting around.  But I couldn't sew, so there was nothing I could do.  I decided then to take a sewing class.  Since FIT was still on my bad side, I decided to check out Parsons.  $700+ for a beginners sewing class.  No thank you.  I decided I couldn't stay mad at FIT for the rest of my life.  So I swallowed my pride and signed up for a sewing class in November for $250.  The class was only once a week for 5 or so weeks.   It taught me all the basics, and the rest I picked up from co-workers and youtube.  Once I got comfortable I started sewing our own samples.  After I finished my 9-5 work, I would head to the sample room and start working at my second job.  

                                    

We shot the lookbook on cold sunny day at a national park in Virginia. We got 90% through before a park ranger came and started throwing salt. He said we needed a permit which would take a few days to obtain. No thanks, Officer Pig. We drove a little up the road to a less occupied part of the park and finished up.

                                    

                                    

                                    

                                    

                                    

                                    

                                    

Now it was time to hit up a few select shops we hoped might be interested in buying.  Being the new brand on the block, no one takes you seriously or wants to be bothered with you. We reached out to countless stores.  Some even contacted us first saying they were interested.  We didn't hear back after that. Justin reached out to stores around the country and some in Canada. I dropped off our lookbook and linesheets personally to the stores in NYC. No luck. Oh well. We'll produce a limited run and sell online.  In hindsight, we were not as pushy as we maybe should have been.  After telling experienced sales people in the industry about it, they all said the same thing.  "You gotta keep hounding them."  

It was time to start thinkin about production and looking for factories.  We found a few, got quotes, and started saving up. We had about 5 months to come up with the production costs for our fall 2013 launch.  We decided paying for everything out of pocket  was the best way to go.  

We are currently in production and are a tad bit behind schedule.  The factory we went with, first quoted us 10% for cutting.  a few days later they called and said they need to charge $250 for each style.  It worked in our benefit for some styles, but for others it didnt fit in our initial budget.  I decided I would cut some of the styles to save us money and just have the factory sew it together.  It seemed they were trying to take advantage of us being that we were new. So everyday after work, I would get straight to cutting fabric until around 4 am. And on the weekends i would cut all day.

                                     

                                     

A few weeks later, our factory decided they were only going to finish 2 of the 9 styles.  They made up some excuse, that i wasnt interested In hearing.  I'm pretty sure the real reason was because they had more important orders to fulfill, and ours small orders were taking up too much time.  It was a huge blow.  We now had to scramble to find another factory who could meet our deadline, produce great quality products, and meet our target price. 

                                    

                                    

*This shirt was a bit of a challenge for the factory.  They were constantly complaining about how long it was taking them.  We thought about printing navy on white cotton oxford, which would have eliminated all of the extra work.  But textile printing is not cheap in NYC.  So we decided to go this route.  We got some white cotton oxford and took it to Color Fusion to be dyed navy.   We also didn't want to finish the seams inside with your regular overlock stitch.  We went with a french seam which I think is a lot cleaner and would decrease the amount of bulk.  Came out pretty good to me.

                                    

                                     

*At the last minute, I decided to add ultra suede to the sleeve binding for this shirt.  A minor detail that I thought would stand out in a good way.

On 7/17/13 Justin decided to come up for Texworld, a textile show with vendors from around the world. I wanted to find some new fabric options for our upcoming holiday collection.  But our priority was finding a new factory. We visited about 15 places.  All within a 3 block radius. We were relieved to find that the factories who were willing to accept our orders would still be able to make our target delivery. 

It's 8/21/13 and all of our pieces have been cut, and we are now waiting for the factory to finish sewing.  

It's 8/28/13 and 3 more shirts are ready to be picked up.  They came out great.  Got a workout taking these back to base, but it was well worth it!

10.11.13 Update

Final product shots are finished and we are ready to launch the webstore.  Justin, Bruce, and I are excited and super nervous!!!  Whatever happens we have learned so much and can only get better!

This ride has been a lot more stressful than I imagined it would be and taken much more time than we anticipated.  But it has been more than worth it.  It hasn't paid off yet, but I have found what I want to do with the rest of my life.   We have made our fair share of mistakes. Some not so expensive, and some very expensive. But it has been a great learning experience and I can't wait to do it better and better with each passing season.  I look forward to learning from this class and offering any advice I can to help. I've actually seen Jeff Staple in passing on 2 separate occasions in NYC.  Once at fashion night out in 2011, and another in a midtown subway station. Both times I was too nervous to say anything and knew if I did I would just look stupid.  But now if I see him, I can thank him for this class and the opportunity to get the name Layhill out there. 

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