MTailor Shark Tank Analysis

Image from Gazette Review

Mtailor owner’s Miles shark tank presentation had attracted lots of media attention. Most notable will be on his arrogance. I thought it might be nice to share my opinion as a MTM shirt/suit factory owner/tailor.

For those who wonder what’s MTailor is, here’s a quick recap.

Summary of Mtailor

Mtailor is the brainchild of two Stanford graduates Miles Penn and Rafi Witten. They realized that affordable tailored shirts were a hit or miss and so they saw an opportunity.

Leveraging their backgrounds in computer science, Penn and Witten wrote a computer vision algorithm that takes highly accurate measurements using only your iPhone camera by following the following steps.

One, simply prop your phone against a wall, and follow a series of voice commands that have you stand

Two, rotate in place (wearing form-fitting clothing, of course).

Last, choose your fabric, pattern, collar, and cuffs and upon checkout, your tailored shirts will arrive at your doorstep 2–3 weeks later.

Measurement steps (Image from Gazette Review)

My analysis

So am I impressed by the measurement technology? YES. Problem is taking measurements is perhaps one of the easiest part of the business.

Confusing Made-to-measure (MTM) to Off-the-rack (OTR) production

Miles explains that when the pricing was started and they were only selling 2 shirts a day, they had their prices set at a specific price. Now that they are selling thousands of shirts a month, the supply chain is still selling shirts at the same price, and Miles spent a few months trying to fix it.

In reality, there are so many variables when it comes to MTM as compared to OTR clothing. For OTR, for one design and size, you make few hundred or thousands.

Hence, you need more man-effort to check if the details are according to what customer chose.

Cotton fabric shrinks. So you need another quality control staff to measure before seams are sewn in. This means extra costs.

These are just 2 or 3 small examples. So you can imagine how hard to is to lower costs.

Hence, if you outsource, lowering costs while maintaining quality is impossible

Now, for OTR shirts, you make tens of thousands in a single order. The retails front pay upon being satisfied with the order.

In Mtailor case, orders are only sent only when measurements are taken and details are chosen by customer. So each single order is unique, which increases the chances of error.

Now, you pay your production house for each item you sent. While M tailor has motivation to lower costs, the production house always have incentive to cut costs. Simply because their margins are so low.

The factory they outsource to need to earn some margin after all.

With motivation to lower costs, it does not make sense for factories to hire necessary quality control staff. Most of the times, they will hire the bare minimum, which is the cutter and seamstress.

Unlike OTR shirts, I have never seen MTM factories check their shirt measurements thoroughly. Yet shirts are usually sent straight to customer.

Reason is simple. For OTR, the higher the volume, the costs are lower substantially. For MTM, this is not the case.

Measuring is one issue, ensuring the tailors follow your measurement is another

Other than pure measurements, there are many factors like the slope of the shoulder. Any abnormalities due to some operation etc. Different allowances for different body shapes.

Other than this, you need a reliable team to make sure details are according to what customer chose. And quality is up to mark.

In the Shark Tank episode, Chris Sacca mentioned “Building a company from scratch in the United States can be incredibly difficult since there are millions of different body types. Technology might actually be the easiest part of the business.” I strongly agree.

Over a decade, I have put in so much effort improving my production process while being on the ground. Yet, while there are little mistakes, there are still errors within my production at times. I can only imagine the number of mistakes, given the Mtailor team is leaving all production aspect to some random businessman whose motivation is to cut costs.

It is so easy to market a reasonably priced MTM shirt. But the supply of GOOD MTM shirt production outweights the number of MTM shirt marketers.

I might be wrong but for Mtailor to last in this business, they have to own their in-house tailors and house or procure their fabrics.

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