Why Grayson Is Trying Fashion’s First-Ever DTC-Wholesale Hybrid

Grayson Shop Talk

A good button-down shirt can be hard to find. A classic for well over a century among female shoppers, the versatile, desirable classic is always popular, so physically finding one usually isn’t the challenge; the problem for women looking for a button-down shirt is almost always the fit.

Audrey McLoghlin knows shirts. Though trained as an engineer, she is the founding force behind Frank & Eileen — whose simply tailored, button-down shirts have an extensive and impressive list of followers. Duchess of Sussex Meghan Markle is a well-known super-fan, Prince Harry now wears the line as well, as do Ellen Degeneres and Oprah. Customer fit comes care of a very long research period in developing the brand’s signature shirt stylings.

Highly praised though it is by the rich and the famous, the brand is not exactly well known for having the most accessible price tag on the market. The shirts may fit well, but for $200+ for a button-down, one might be inclined to assume they would. McLoghlin’s latest offering, a new brand of shirts under the Grayson label, is priced somewhat more accessibly. Somewhat, not a lot, as the Hero — the new shirt rolling out DTC to consumers and through the brand’s newly minted wholesaling partnerships — has a starting price sitting at $128-$138.

To create what she called “perfecting sizing for any proportions,” McLoghlin reportedly studied 30 different fit models to create a single silhouette. To go along with the new design, Grayson shirts also have an entirely different sizing system that runs from 01 to 05. Instead of being based off measurements, the system is designed to correlate wearers’ height and weight to generate where they fit on the size chart.

The new brand is launching with 15 colors and prints in washed cotton, with a new capsule collection rolling out each month. The brand is launching both DTC with a web portal and on shelves at Nordstrom and Anthropologie. The choice for a dual launch, instead of opting toward one channel or another, according to the brand, was strategic. The goal, it noted, is to push the brand out as widely as possible, and to hopefully enjoy “the best of both approaches.”

“There’s so much back-end infrastructure involved in wholesale that you don’t have with DTC, and so much storytelling and marketing with DTC that you don’t have with wholesale. We’re doing it all,” McLoghlin noted.

While some DTC brands in recent memory have sworn while launching they would never, ever sell wholesale or in brick-and-mortar shops, the reality is that as time has gone on, many of those same brands have announced retail shops or even partnerships with big box brands.

Grayson wasn’t looking for a big box partner, but the idea of creating the first hybrid go-to-market strategy in the fashion world has a massive appeal to up-and-coming brands. If the customer they wanted to reach is shopping in both old-school retail and DTC channels, then the job of her brand is to meet them where they shop; Nordstrom and Anthropologie, McLoghlin said, were among the world’s more “trusted department stores” and were willing to take a chance on her single prototype model.

“I firmly believe that as women, we will always want to touch and feel and try on clothes when we shop. We just do,” she said. “It was incredibly important to me that our customer would be able to touch and feel the Hero and feel personally connected to the brand.”

Because that connection, she said, is the key to long-term relationships with customers — the knowledge that they can trust that brand to deliver for them. It’s what has allowed McLoghlin to build “four businesses from scratch over the last 15 years” without ever raising a dime of VC funding. Paying with someone else’s money ultimately isn’t sustainable, she said.

What is sustainable is giving customers what they want — and then giving them as many channels as possible to find it on.