St. Louis to get men’s cult favorite Bonobos shop

By Debra D. Bass – St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Bonobos, a popular online men’s clothing brand, is opening its first St. Louis retail location in the Central West End.

Known as a “guideshop,” the location is expected to open in time for the holiday season at 52 Maryland Plaza. The 1,400-square-foot space was previously occupied by the Scapegoat Tavern. Renovations will begin this month.

Bonobos launched in 2007 with one grand mission statement: making the absolute best pair of men’s pants. Gimmick or not, the San Francisco-based company created not just a buzz but a cult fan base.

The founders have put more thought into a pair of pants than sanity would allow and the accolades on men’s fashion blogs, customers review sights and international magazines support that mental investment.

What began with their best-selling Washed Chinos, now includes a full line of shirts, suits, jackets, sweaters and more.

The guideshops are the latest innovations. Not quite stores, the shops are showrooms for the clothing line. The shops hold sample stock for fittings. Once the customer is satisfied with the style and fit, items are shipped to their homes for free, with return labels included.

Although customers can’t walk out with purchases, the biggest advantage of the shop is that everything is always available to try on and there’s no online guesswork about what will or won’t fit.

Sam Koplar of Koplar Properties Inc. said that getting the innovative Bonobos shop was related to recent developments in the area. The recent announcement that the European menswear line Suitsupply will be located next door increased Bonobos’ interest in coming to the area.

“In 2004, we were still emerging and it was difficult to attract national retailers. They kind of needed others to prove it out,” Koplar said. “We needed the mom and pop shops to be pioneers.”

Now, the addition of Whole Foods and Lululemon has turned the Central West End into a legitimate shopping center, he said. But having said that, he said he doesn’t want to lose the character of the neighborhood being viable for unique retail outlets.

As a startup, Bonobos has received substantial investments over the years and now boasts that it has become the largest clothing brand ever launched over the web in the United States.

By 2018, the brand has stated plans to grow from 35 to 40 shops.

And in May, Forbes reported that as the biggest sign of impending world domination, Wal-Mart is reportedly planning to buy Bonobos for about $300 million. Although the exact details of the potential deal are not available, it is believed to be in advanced stages of talks, according the magazine.

Nordstrom has already invested in the company and sells Bonobos in its stores and online.

First posted in Uncategorized | Tuesday, June 1, 2017