A few weeks ago, we introduced you to a company making selvedge denim jeans in big & tall sizes – one of a handful of brands and boutiques trying to bring stylish clothing to a customer who traditionally hasn’t been given many options. Today we’re introducing you to HB Clothing Company, a brand creating high quality shirts and outerwear for men in sizes large to 5X. We spoke with Founder Mandy Misle about starting the company, why the big & tall industry lacks stylish clothing, and what you can expect from them in the coming year.
How did HB Clothing Company get its start? My Dad was a University of Texas football player, and he’d always been a big guy. When he wanted to dress more contemporary, he had problems finding things to wear in his size – even just the basics. My Boyfriend had the same problem. He’s 6’1 and 290, and when he needed new clothing for a job he was going after, we couldn’t find anything for him. Big and tall shops just didn’t offer style, and a man needs to have the ability to dress well. It’s not like because you’re bigger, you shouldn’t have fashionable options.I realized there was a gap in the market, and after working with a few other companies, I decided to go it on my own and started HB Clothing.
You make your clothing with specific consideration given to a bigger man’s needs when it comes to fit. What do you do differently? Clothes from Ralph Lauren, Tommy Bahama, and Cutter and Buck sell well and look good, but their fit is inconsistent; it just doesn’t match up with their fit guides. It’s the details that make the difference – we add pleating to shirts that allow guys with big arms to roll up their sleeves. Our leather jacket is made from a lightweight leather and it’s cotton lined instead of polyester, which handles sweat better. The 2 inch thick rim gusseting makes sure that no matter if the guy is big in the chest or stomach, the jacket will still fit. The neck piece even has a quarter inch gap; if you put it up all the way it’ll fit, and if you leave it down it still looks good.
Who do you consider to be your average customer? Our customer is a little more athletically built; they’re not athletes, but they are bigger and taller. They’re looking for clothing that’s fashionable and affordable.
Why do you think it’s so difficult to find stylish clothing in extended sizes? Because everyone who wants to do fashion wants to do the hoity-toity side of it. They want to work for Bergdorfs and Sachs, and that’s fine, but there are so many other options out there for designers who want to go another way. I know exactly what my audience is looking for. With menswear, if you keep your sizing consistent, your customers will stay with your brand forever.
You offer sizes from L to 5X. Do you think you’ll ever offer smaller, more mainstream sizes? Those 5’10, 160 lb guys can get clothes anywhere. HB Clothing Company is specifically a big and tall line, but we call it Real Size.
What’s next for HB Clothing Company? Right now we’re picking out fabrics for our spring line. It’ll be subtle, but with enough color to differentiate. We’ll also be focusing on getting our clothing into streetwear, surfwear, and skate shops.
Bruce’s take:It’s obvious that a lot of thought has gone into the apparel HB Clothing Company makes. From the quality of fabrics used, to details that make their clothing work well with multiple body types, you can see that they’re out to make clothing that fits well and lasts. The shirts really are made for a bigger man – I found them to be just the right amount of roomy in the chest and stomach without being boxy – something that many companies offering clothing in extended sizes seem to forget to do. In fact, HB Clothing Company seems to have figured out how to make a big and tall form fitting shirt without looking (or feeling) like it’s going to blow a button and fly off you at any second. The attention to detail and a bigger man’s needs makes all the difference. I’m excited to see the spring collection.