Custom clothes can create confidence. Blank Label, our Best of Denver 2018 winner for Best Shop for Custom Menswear, brought a full line of custom-fitted tuxedos, suits, shirts, polos, shorts, chinos, corduroy, denim, trenchcoats, topcoats and even quilted vests to Denver this year. From its humble beginnings as a Boston-based online shirt company in 2009, the brand has expanded to six brick-and-mortar storefronts: two in Boston and one each in Chicago, Atlanta, Washington, D.C., and now Denver.
We spoke with Connor Lees, Denver store lead, merchandising coordinator and menswear specialist about the custom process and what Blank Label adds to the men's fashion scene in Denver.
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Westword: Tell us about the owner of the company and his roots in England.
Connor Lees: Fan Bi is the co-founder and CEO of Blank Label. He came up with the idea when his boss took him to get a custom shirt from Savile Row after concluding an internship in London. He was so impressed that he wanted to create a similar experience, but more accessible. At that point, custom clothing was very expensive and very exclusive.
What kind of culture did Blank Label envision for the company?
Blank Label is a high-touch, service-oriented company focused on providing our clients with a welcoming experience and clothes that will make them feel great. We often use the phrase "celebrating the individual" to discuss our views on customer service. Our goal is for each client to feel amazing in clothes that are custom-made for them. While there are plenty of companies that offer the chance to plug in measurements and receive clothing, we believe in a human touch by having dedicated menswear specialists who know and understand each client's needs and preferences.
Why did Blank Label decide to come to Denver?
Blank Label looks for cities that are growing quickly, as we as a company are doing the same. The downtown area was missing a true, easy-to-shop custom presence. Just blocks from Union Station, we fill that niche.
What was the inspiration behind the Denver store's interior design?
Each store carries the characteristics of its home city; you'll find a unique vibe in each Blank Label location. For Denver, we love the historic LoDo area, and the architecture in the space made it easy to build around. The stone and brick archways are accents enough, so we just complemented that with dark woods and natural colors of the Colorado foothills.
How many different pattern options are there for shirt fabrics?
We have around 150 shirt selections at any given time, constantly changing for the season and based on client feedback. Ultimately, we are focused on classic styles with excellent quality. We just recently began offering new stretch and non-wrinkle dress fabrics to fulfill client requests we’ve been fielding.
What would you say to men who are on the fence about custom clothes, or think it's too expensive or luxurious for them?
Our whole philosophy is about making custom easy and accessible. Fittings rarely take more than an hour at most, and the price is about what you'd spend to purchase off-the-rack, plus tailoring. When you factor in the luxury-grade construction, the ability to customize small details to make items unique, and fit, of course, it's hard to go back to off-the-rack once you've experienced your first custom garments.
Can you speak on Blank Label's campaigns featuring real customers and how that plays into the company's values?
Blank Label is a company built on its clients’ support — so why hire models when there are so many enthusiastic Blank Label clients willing to help? We believe strongly in our message that everyone is welcome in our stores and that everyone deserves to feel more comfortable in their clothing, so showing real clients and their experiences helps to bring that idea home. We have so many unique and interesting clients who believe in our brand, and we love sharing that with anyone who wants to know what Blank Label represents.
What do you love about menswear and working in the fashion industry?
I love the confidence that my clothing brings when I walk out the door, and I love helping others find that same confidence. The way you feel in your clothing can change your whole attitude. The unconscious smile, the look that our clients show when they first try on their Blank Label garments, is so great to be a part of. I also find that menswear can be so rigid and repetitive, but helping people find ways of making their wardrobe unique and true to them helps shake things up.
What company do you partner with for accessories?
We partner with David Fin, a New York-based tie company. They use beautiful Italian silks in combination with hand-stitched construction, and they make a really fantastic product. They also work with the Folded Flag Foundation to support our troops, just as we offer a military discount for our country's servicemen and women.
Do you have any upcoming events planned?
We love partnering with local brands to provide excellent Colorado products in the Pattern Room, or what we call our shops. We have Stranahan's whiskey and Tivoli beer to enjoy when you come in for a fitting.
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Is there anything you would like to add?
If anyone is still skeptical, come try us out and we'll take $100 off your first purchase. That covers the entire cost of a shirt, or you can put it toward anything else you might need. We believe in our product, and we think you will, too.
Black Label is located at 1360 17th Street, Suite 102. For more information, call 781-236-3559 or go to blanklabel.com.