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Sam Glaser of STITCHED: The Future Of Retail In The Post Pandemic World

An Interview With Jilea Hemmings

Some private equity companies are going to see a lot of cheap mall real estate and do something productive with it. I think malls will morph into much more service-oriented retail destinations. Think, more blow dry bars and modular pop-up shops, with much less mainstream retail. Service-orientation aside, I think there will always be room for high end, high-touch, retail. For all of its virtues, online still isn’t good with “touch” and genuine personalized service. Algorithmic personalization is getting better, but the luxury segments will continue to feature an element of face-to-face service for quite some time.

As part of our series about the future of retail, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sam Glaser who is a Eugene, Oregon native and graduate of UC Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. With brand management experience that started with Ogilvy & Mather, Nike, and WILL, Glaser has been the buyer at STITCHED since 2013. Now as its Senior Vice President, Glaser oversees purchasing and operations, bridging data-driven analytics and creativity to curate the retailer’s renowned ready-to-wear collections. Apart from STITCHED, Glaser has covered Las Vegas as a Contributing Editor for Las Vegas Weekly, Du Jour and others.

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Thanks, delighted to join you. While my business classmates in college were pursuing careers in technology, finance, and accounting, I wanted to find a path that was both creative in nature, but also business oriented. I did my internship with an ad agency in New York and solidified my love for branding, while also becoming inspired by the style and pulse of the city. I started my career as a brand manager for a leather manufacturer, working on the WILL and Nike Golf brands, before becoming a buyer and realizing how well-suited it was for my particular interests. On one hand, buying is about financial analyses and identifying opportunities in the math; on the other, it’s about creatively curating merchandise assortments.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career?

Before starting at STITCHED seven years ago, I was a buyer for a different company by day and a journalist at night. I broke the story of STITCHED opening at The Cosmopolitan; it was cool to see a Las Vegas-born company creating and exporting culture. I later got to pick “Best Men’s Store” for the publication and selected STITCHED. I became friends with the company’s Founder and President, Eamon Springall, and felt compelled to share some ideas: “Eamon — you already have the best men’s store in Vegas <wink wink>. I also think you’re missing a couple things.” In retrospect, it was an audacious approach that might have just as easily offended and backfired. Thankfully, Eamon was exceptionally receptive. I shared ideas for expansion categories, brands, and macro trends — but moreover an analytics-driven approach to buying. A season later, I was starting my dream job with STITCHED.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?

It was my first season as a buyer, in 2010. I wanted to put together the coolest brand portfolio and merchandise assortment the industry had ever seen from a new buyer. The brands I bought that season really were cool. Brands like Joyrich, Stampd, and Comune, that would go on to become pretty reputable. The problem was, the industry wasn’t our customer, and our sales were — ahem — modest. I learned a painful and powerful lesson about business empathy; always staying customer-oriented and avoiding the trap of making decisions based on personal preferences.

Are you working on any new exciting projects now? How do you think that might help people?

Yes! At STITCHED we’ve launched and are expanding our XXXX Sport brand extension, which features advanced technical fabrics — suiting and shirting with stretch, moisture wicking, cooling, and machine-washability. In a time when men are demanding more comfort, it’s a direction with a lot of momentum. Meanwhile, with blessings from Eamon, I’m personally developing a brand of high-end bomber jackets, made in L.A., featuring a few tricks that the market is going to like.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Lean into your passions and stay community driven. I’ve always wanted to launch my own clothing brand, and being able to make time during quarantine was really therapeutic, at a time when our stores were in a mandatory shutdown and the future of the world had never felt more uncertain. At the same time, at STITCHED, we’ve doubled down on our community engagement. Supporting local non-profits has been a priority since we opened and has become even more important as we’ve grown and as our community’s needs have grown too. This year STITCHED is supporting nearly 100 charities by donating suit packages, hosting fundraisers, and helping our employees engage as well, while also providing several academic and athletic scholarships. Philanthropy is one of the most fulfilling parts of business.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful, who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

I’ve spent a lot of this interview singing the praises of STITCHED Founder & President Eamon Springall. The opportunity, mentorship and guidance he’s given me along the way has been invaluable. From big picture priorities, to the nuts and bolts of entrepreneurship, to marketing tactics, the thought partnership is always enriching. I also want to credit our colleagues who keep us at the forefront of our industry: Ricci and our stylists are the best around; Bob and Joel keep the train running behind the scenes — our team is exceptional.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

We’re in the business of helping men (and increasingly women!) look good and feel confident. There’s something empowering about putting on your favorite new suit, or a perfectly tailored pair of denim. Besides that, I mentioned our commitment to philanthropy, but it’s a high enough priority and relevant enough to this question, that it deserves repeating.

Ok super. Now let’s jump to the main questions of our interview. The Pandemic has changed many aspects of all of our lives. One of them is the fact that so many of us have gotten used to shopping almost exclusively online. Can you share examples of how STITCHED is adapting to the new realities created by the Pandemic?

To start during the shutdown, we offered private 1-on-1 shopping, by appointment only; a historically celebrity-oriented shopping service for us. We also instituted a number of CDC-inspired safety protocols, including limiting number of guests, temperature checks, mask requirements for employees (and complimentary masks for guests), demarcated social distancing, and rigorous cleaning and sanitization requirements. We took it all very seriously, very early on, and then announced the campaign with a light hearted “Practice Safe Shopping” video (watch on Instagram | watch on YouTube).

In your opinion, will retail stores or malls continue to exist? How would you articulate the role of physical retail spaces at a time when online commerce platforms like Amazon Prime or Instacart can deliver the same day or the next day?

Some private equity companies are going to see a lot of cheap mall real estate and do something productive with it. I think malls will morph into much more service-oriented retail destinations. Think, more blow dry bars and modular pop-up shops, with much less mainstream retail. Service-orientation aside, I think there will always be room for high end, high-touch, retail. For all of its virtues, online still isn’t good with “touch” and genuine personalized service. Algorithmic personalization is getting better, but the luxury segments will continue to feature an element of face-to-face service for quite some time.

The so-called “Retail Apocalypse” has been going on for about a decade. While many retailers are struggling, some retailers, like Lululemon, Kroger, and Costco are quite profitable. Can you share a few lessons that other retailers can learn from the success of profitable retailers?

First, integrate vertically. The emergence of private label brands and supply chain optimization has driven profitability from Costco to H&M. Secondly, add value with psychographics. Lululemon doesn’t just sell fitness clothing, it sells inspiration. Third, go to market expeditiously. I group Zara among the successful retailers, and its key is expediting trends from runway to retail.

  1. Amazon is going to exert pressure on all of retail for the foreseeable future. New Direct-To-Consumer companies based in China are emerging that offer prices that are much cheaper than US and European brands. What would you advise to retail companies and e-commerce companies, for them to be successful in the face of such strong competition?

In the big retail picture, there’s certainly pressure from online shopping. But as consumers spend more time online, physical retail will need to deliver unique experiences. At STITCHED, an experience-driven approach has been the key to our Internet-resistance. Gentlemen relax in our scotch locker lounge and enjoy a hand-measured and hand-made approach to clothing. We have stylists, not salespeople, and clients enjoy a personalized wardrobing experience, something that continues to elude online retail. Online is great for commodities, affordable brands, and fast fashion; not so great for custom clothing, personalized service, or luxury categories that benefit from touching before purchasing.

The related macro retail pressure comes from the emergence of fast fashion, both online and off. Counterintuitively, STITCHED has benefited from some of the same sensibilities that have made Zara and H&M successful. We produce our XXXX Collection ready-to-wear with the same handmade resources that we use to make our custom clothing. Our ideas move from concept to sales floor in one month. This is a formidable advantage that keeps us far ahead of the traditional buying cycle in men’s suiting.

Thank you for all of that. We are nearly done. Here is our final ‘meaty’ question. You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

I’m troubled by how hard it is for young adults — myself included — to live in the present. Scores of cell phones block views at concerts; phones eat first at fancy restaurants, and anyone who’s anyone has been to Tulum. Keeping up with the Joneses in the Instagram era is creating a global inferiority complex; our self-worth is too predicated on external validation. So, I would start the Moment Movement — in which we put our phones away, stay present, and focus our attention on actions that build intrinsic value. For me, that means being a good son, brother, uncle, and colleague, while keeping my body and brain healthy.

How can our readers further follow your work?

We’re most active on Instagram: @STITCHEDLIFE @sammyglaser

This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

About the Interviewer: Jilea Hemmings is a staunch believer in the power of entrepreneurship. A successful career revamping Fortune 500 companies was not enough for her entrepreneurial spirit, so Jilea began focusing her passion in startups. She has successfully built 6 startups to date. Her passion for entrepreneurship continues to flourish with the development of Stretchy Hair Care, focusing on relieving the pain associated with detangling and styling natural black hair. For far too long, people with tender heads have suffered in pain. Until now.




In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Jilea Hemmings

Jilea Hemmings

Founder Nourish + Bloom Market | Stretchy Hair Care I Author I Speaker I Eshe Consulting I Advocate For Diversity In Beauty

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