Little by little, we’re seeing men of size gain more representation in mainstream media, fashion, and commerce. With this increased interest comes more opportunity for individuals to take their ideas and turn them into something great. That’s exactly what Halifax, Nova Scotia based James Weir did when he launched Large Lad Clothing, his line of tees, button-downs, dress shirts, caps and more, made specifically for men sizes XL to 6XL. We talked to James about what it took to start his own label, how he decides what to include in his line, and what he hope to offer customers in Canada, the U.S., and abroad.
Chubstr: What made you decide to start your own big men’s clothing brand?
James Weir: I was a youth counselor for 17 years prior to starting Large Lad Clothing. After moving around a bit, I was ready for a career change, and I knew that I wanted to do something that would help people. One day, I was shopping for a 4X shirt, and ended up covering most of the city of Halifax trying to find one, and I went home frustrated and empty-handed. My wife said to me, why don’t you start your own big and tall store? I put together a business plan and presented it to the Nova Scotia Centre for Entrepreneurship Education and was accepted into a 9 month business program geared to help small business start ups. Without this program, it would have been difficult to get started. It gave me a real blueprint for how to start a business. We launched as a clothing and lifestyle label in January of 2016.
Chubstr: You’ve got an interesting mix of products, from button-downs and bowlers, to aprons and coffee. How do you decide what products to offer your customers?
JW: My main mission is [to create] casual clothing for the everyday big and tall gent sizes XL – 6X that’s great quality, durable, fashionable and affordable. A lot of the shirts I offer you can wear them in a variety of settings, to work, out on the town, a formal event, with family or just relaxing. I always found the Big and Tall specialty shops really expensive. Large Lad Clothing is also a lifestyle label for the larger gent. I am currently carrying Large Lad Coffee, and in the future I see BBQ sauces, rubs, condiments, and more.
I will always be evolving my line to offer a larger selection of products so the customer can always receive new selections and not get bored of my label.
Chubstr: You let people request clothing styles via the website. What’s most requested right now?
JW: A lot of customers are requesting jackets, active wear, pants and shirts in the 7XL-9XL range, as well as tall sizes. I am exploring relationships with manufacturers that can make clothes 7X and up. To fill those requests right now, I source out these items for my customers from existing labels mostly from the States or the UK and bring them in. There is no surcharge on this service it’s just to keep my customers looking good and feeling great.
Chubstr: Prior to starting Large Lad Clothing, where did you shop?
JW: In my 20’s I lived in Toronto, and was a 2XL. I was able to find decent clothes most of the time, but it was still a struggle to find nicer styles at reasonable prices [that I could turn into] a nice outfit. I mostly shopped at Winners, Ecko, Walmart, International Clothes, Gap, and Old Navy, and I made it work. When I moved to the
When I moved to the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia was when the real problem started. I had increased to a 3XL, then a 4XL, and there weren’t really any stores around. I would stock up on clothes in Calgary, Vancouver, Seattle, and Portland during my summer holidays, but I always found the Big and Tall specialty shops really expensive. To be honest I really didn’t look for bigger sizes online until I started my company.
Chubstr: What do you think is the most difficult piece of clothing for big men to find?
JW: I think shoes are difficult, and pants that fit the waist and [proper] length without alterations. And, a good belt. I work with a old school leather belt maker. He makes leather belts out of English Bridal Leather with stainless steel roller buckles. They are all hand cut and stitched on a late 1800’s stitching horse. These belts have been tested on me personally for 9 years. They don’t stretch, crack, or fade. I carry sizes 40-48 in stock, but I can get them custom made to any size.
Chubstr: The internet makes it so easy to reach people around the world. Do you see yourself creating any brick and mortar Large Lad Clothing shops in the future?
JW: I do have a tiny bit of offline presence at trade shows, public events, and customers can come by my home office by appointment. There are also a few men’s clothing stores carrying my label in Nova Scotia, and even a motorcycle shop in New Zealand. My goal is to have more stores across Canada and the States carrying my label.
Chubstr: What do you hope Large Lad Clothing accomplishes for the big and tall customer?
JW: I just want to make it easier for the people to have access to quality, on trend, affordable clothes. A lot of the big and tall specialty stores and chains have very high margins and mark up prices. My goal is to keep prices fair for my customer and fair for my label. Having struggled being a larger guy since my early 20’s I have gone through periods of low self esteem around body image, a lot of it had to do with not finding stylish shirts that fit well.
There is more to us than just being big. We are emotional, sensitive, and we want to be stylish. I just want my customers to know that I have been there, and I want them to look good and feel great!
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