Menswear Style Podcast

Benjamin Heyd, Co-Founder of SANVT

August 17, 2020 Menswear Style Episode 78
Menswear Style Podcast
Benjamin Heyd, Co-Founder of SANVT
Chapters
Menswear Style Podcast
Benjamin Heyd, Co-Founder of SANVT
Aug 17, 2020 Episode 78
Menswear Style

SANVT is not conventional. Their mission is to develop a collection of high-quality clothing essentials. When designing products, they remove everything that doesn’t add value and invest in what does. They offer true luxury essentials, priced below standard retail pricing. They don’t charge high mark-ups because they simply don’t have to. Unlike most high-end brands, SANVT are committed to offering the very best quality at the very best prices. They have cut out the middlemen, kept their distribution model lean, and by selling online from their warehouse in Germany, they’re able to keep markup at 2-3X rather than the 6-8X industry standard. Each step of their process aims to disrupt the status quo of the fashion industry, bringing you the best of the best, without the inflated pricing. SANVT do not follow fashion fads and they don’t create new designs each season. Instead they offer a permanent, all-year timeless collection. This means that they can dedicate more time to rethinking every detail of their essential garments. Products will not only last through wear and tear but survive the changing tides of fashion trends. SANVT has a vision to minimise the environmental impact of their manufacturing processes, and they offset all production related emissions by actively supporting local forest protection programmes.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Benjamin Heyd, Co-Founder of SANVT about how he and his brother started the brand in 2018 with the simple idea of making the perfect t-shirt. After working for large global fashion/footwear companies that were inefficient and profit margin focused, Benjamin had the urge to start his own clothing brand that would be sustainable and inspired by contemporary design. Our host Peter Brooker and Benjamin also chat about the meaning of the brand name, the challenges of finding production partners, why they're focused on being a lean company, and giving customers their perfect sizing through a dedicated web size finder tool.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

Show Notes Transcript

SANVT is not conventional. Their mission is to develop a collection of high-quality clothing essentials. When designing products, they remove everything that doesn’t add value and invest in what does. They offer true luxury essentials, priced below standard retail pricing. They don’t charge high mark-ups because they simply don’t have to. Unlike most high-end brands, SANVT are committed to offering the very best quality at the very best prices. They have cut out the middlemen, kept their distribution model lean, and by selling online from their warehouse in Germany, they’re able to keep markup at 2-3X rather than the 6-8X industry standard. Each step of their process aims to disrupt the status quo of the fashion industry, bringing you the best of the best, without the inflated pricing. SANVT do not follow fashion fads and they don’t create new designs each season. Instead they offer a permanent, all-year timeless collection. This means that they can dedicate more time to rethinking every detail of their essential garments. Products will not only last through wear and tear but survive the changing tides of fashion trends. SANVT has a vision to minimise the environmental impact of their manufacturing processes, and they offset all production related emissions by actively supporting local forest protection programmes.

In this episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interview Benjamin Heyd, Co-Founder of SANVT about how he and his brother started the brand in 2018 with the simple idea of making the perfect t-shirt. After working for large global fashion/footwear companies that were inefficient and profit margin focused, Benjamin had the urge to start his own clothing brand that would be sustainable and inspired by contemporary design. Our host Peter Brooker and Benjamin also chat about the meaning of the brand name, the challenges of finding production partners, why they're focused on being a lean company, and giving customers their perfect sizing through a dedicated web size finder tool.

Whilst we have your attention, be sure to sign up to our daily MenswearStyle newsletter here. We promise to only send you the good stuff.

Unknown:

Hello, and welcome to another episode of The menswear style podcast. I'm your host Pete broker. And on today's episode I'm going to be talking to Benjamin high co founder of sanft. And that is s a n, v t. appeal of a little bit of info from the sanft website, which you can find by the way@sanft.com. At Sam, they are rethinking the way the fashion industry works building an innovative brand for essential things to improve the daily life. Their drive is too simple to do the simple things exceptionally well, and they only use the highest quality materials and work with the best factories in Europe. They do not work in seasonal cycles or short lived trends. Starting with the search for the perfect t shirt, they gradually develop a concise collection of premium garments that is exclusively available online. So I really enjoyed talking to Benjamin, we spoke about sustainability, about how important it is not to lose focus of who your customer is. Benjamin also talks about how you can call upon all facets of your life experiences to start a brand so it's a fascinating chat. And I think you'll enjoy all that to come. First make sure you're checking out menswear style WW, menswear styled.co.uk and on the social app menswear style. All the latest fashion news and Ivan yassky has done an awesome article on how to find the right summer hat. He goes into the history of hat wearing and how things like material, the occasion etc. These can all inform the choices you make when choosing the right summer hat. And if you're in London and it's led Hatters and Lacan co recommend those guys, check out that article and many more on the website. And if you want to tell us about your brand, maybe you want to talk about your journey, you can email the show at info at menswear. style.co.uk Okay. Let's get into it. This is a good one. I hope you enjoy it. Here is Benjamin Hyde, co founder of sans. Well, it's my great pleasure to introduce Benjamin Hite, co founder of sanft How you doing today Benjamin? I'm very well how yourself I'm really good Benjamin thanks so much for taking time out to speak to us. I want to learn all about Samson if you wouldn't mind just giving a backstory to you thumbnail sketch as it were coming into the brand and what led you to it. Now, as she said and Benjamin obviously, co founder meaning I founded subtyping officially 2018 together with my brother Felix and when I say 2018 this was like when we created the company when we found the company in 2019 I think spring 2019 we started with the launch of our first product which was the perfect t shirt. So the official kickoff if you want from a consumer point of view for us last last year in spring my background perhaps on what led me to town sans so I was always working in fashion and lifestyle with a strong focus on footwear in the past like big companies like Puma cost and wanted always had this in my head to create my own brand our own brand. Because I saw some challenges a bigger companies might have and some advantages smaller companies might have especially in a digital age. So this is basically what led me to found it from your background of working in payment. The cost was this in trainers specifically in the sneaker sector. Well it was ever come from originally so I'm come from a town in southern Germany called nurnberg. Close to nurnberg is where Adidas and Puma went from head to mouth. So once again we want to work in fashion so we end up quite often in in Puma, Adidas. So I started interestingly, I started in like team sports, so did a lot of like football, but then move quite quickly into lifestyle products also work for apparel brands in the UK. And as I said after after that, for another footwear footwear brand was in the UK and then move to Portugal, which kind of I forgot to mention before. So my last job before Sun was for Portuguese footwear factory I should say which kind of opened a few doors and for sourcing and now nowadays which sometimes we still produce 100% of our products in protocol. And this kind of easy there will be entry to the suppliers in the beginning. What were the hard parts about getting the brand off the ground? What are the obstacles? I mean, perhaps very quickly to like the inspiration because it also highlights a bit the obstacles that we had when we are founding the brand, because I mentioned it already before, one of the big inspirations of MC drivers that wanted to make me found this digital lean, small startup and as a smaller purpose was my experience in bigger businesses before of being completely inefficient. These inefficiencies are then also communicated to consumers, as in higher prices to say, say, quite direct. So you have this huge corporation in the background, a lot of waste in between and somebody needs to pay for that this is like for extra margin, that extra margin there and this is you pay a very high price for a product that is in the production cost, much less in like fashion and footwear industries. So this was the big background inspiration that I thought oh, this can be done later. And we can offer much better quality or value for money to our consumers, especially in apparel. From a brand perspective, I think that came mostly like my personal taste of it to it, I couldn't find like a brand that kind of I saw myself in like with a very contemporary appeal, minimalistic products, but with a strong link to a sustainable approach. So this was elected I just couldn't find a brand that I found suitable for me. So bridging the gap and linking sustainability and contemporary design or contemporary brand appeal. Which was the main thing in our DNA is actually this modern edge compared with like a great gradient coolest is I would say he was I don't like to work. But this also this also is reflected a bit in our in our name. So sand actually comes from a German word son, which means in the narrow sense, it means kind of soft, but it can also mean more like Chantel in English. So at this kind of gentleness is like reflected how we deal with our consumers, how we deal with our our partners or production partners in particular. And above all, how we want to treat a nature during this production process. So to have as little impact on environment as we can. And this leads me then to answer Finally, your original question is like, what is the biggest challenge and it's probably still the biggest ongoing challenge and obstacle to overcome and we started some is supply chain as in the production. So obviously when Yes, when you're small and starting up. Without big financial backing initially, obviously your plans are rather small minimums are high for you in the beginning for any kind of production side you find or speak to. So it is for lb fashion startup, I think challenging to find production partners that are willing for these kind of new projects, because obviously with low quantities, not as interesting for them. On top, I made it even more challenging for us to find the right partners, because this sustainability approach was right in the beginning one of the crucial factors when deciding for to work to cooperate with the factory. So finally one that is willing to work with us with low quantities and has a very strong approach to and sustainable sourcing. Boss, it is still the biggest ongoing obstacle, I guess, says a lot of dialogue, I imagine. And when you're trying to approach factories and saying this is what I want, can you deliver and they go Yes, we can. But it will have to be on huge orders, you know, your first order has to be of a certain amount. So how do you negotiate that? Was it a case of you just finding the right factory and the right people? Yeah, it was it was a matter of this actually was meeting a lot of people's having a lot of conversations with people. The very first factory we started working with, we are still working with the same factory because it's on a very personal level because they like to project as in some way. And they also felt that we could bring deliver something to them that they didn't have like opened the eyes a bit on a sustainable angle as well. They did a huge shift themselves in investing in like owns sewn up solar panels in their factory and so on. So I think it was from a big, personal level, because in the beginning from a pure financial point of view as a small self financed startup, you can't make it really interesting for any big production partner basically. So there has to be a bit more tread. And this is how it started initially. Obviously, this part gets a bit easier as you grow over time. But then I have a big advantage of the with the experience before having voted lifted in particular. So I'm constantly I have been constantly and I'm still visiting our partners As often as possible, this was obviously in the last six months not possible to the extent we wanted to. But I think having this and maintaining a strong relationship with production partners is key to success. But as I said before, I mean, it was answering your question about challenges and obstacles. It is obviously an ongoing process, I guess. Wow. Benjamin's You know what, I've just had a thought you'd be the sort of guy that could charge a fee as a headhunter. You know, if people go look, I've got an idea for a brand. But I need to know the right people that can make it You sound like you've got the kind of Rolodex and experience where you'd be able to introduce to people get handshake going, and then there you go, someone's got a brand and a factory. He's got a client, Toby, to be honest, this is actually, quite often what I have in the back of my head is like this. I mean, they're obviously like, production textile agents sitting everywhere. But if you think me on a personal level, I think there is actually a market for this tip. But after all, it obviously also depends on the client. I mean, I want to be 100% honest, a lot of startups, including us, when we started off, perhaps don't always know exactly what they want, but they after and when he approached his production sites. I mean, they used to like b2b businesses, and not not b2c focus. So you need to let them know exactly what you want. And then and then actually, what, what you want and when you want it and when you need it, and so on. So as a small startup, I think there is a lot of jobs to be done internally first, to really figure out exactly what they want. And then I could introduce everyone to the right people, I guess. But I think there's a lot of work to be done internally, by the by new brand. Yeah, well, listen, I think you'd be a good guy to know for a lot of people, but that aside, factor sense? Can you tell us how big the team is now then. So you say that you really want to have a close relationship with consumers, you kind of want to get away from the element of big business? How big is Sam's now. So So internally, we have a team of four at the moment. But as I said, from the beginning, I mean, a big part of the business is having a lean structure as much as possible. So we work with a lot of like external talents, or like on a freelance level, the internal team is mainly customer service and marketing, which we kind of constantly grow. And this was a bit faster growth as we anticipated initially. Also, obviously, we will take on more talent as we grow. But as I said, as I said before, key focus is still to keep it as lean as possible, and outsource certain things that perhaps other brands would normally bring in house, and we kind of try to keep everything outsourced as much as we can, not crucial functions at the moment, we're obviously looking into more like internal product developers, strengthen our marketing team. And as I already mentioned, like especially a strong focus on a bigger customer service team. Yeah, well, listen, I can tell you how important that is, because I've had two interactions with big businesses this week. And, and I got nowhere with them. I might as well name and shame them. But let us let me just say what is the Virgin, one is Vodafone. Now you try and ironically get hold of anyone at Vodafone on the phone. You can't You can't get hold of anyone, I don't care if there's a pandemic or not. Literally, this is like the most faceless company in the world that will not pick up the phone to you no matter what the issue is. And then the other one is virgin, you try leaving that gym. I when I even went into Virgin and spoke to a human being they told me to download an app, delete, you just get sent around in circles. So it's crucial that you keep this kind of personality and the personal side your business I beg of you anyway, I think I think so. So I mean, especially in our business, we see we see it now as well. Having a strong relationship and partnership with our customers at the end of the day. It's key because we also want input from our consumers or from our bias. And I think a customer service team, a dedicated customer service team can help a lot not just solving some challenging issues like delivery problems and so on, but also getting more input and extracting more input from our consumers on products, how we can improve our products and so on. So I think there is a double benefit, not just obviously helping sales and lowering problems, but also improving the whole brand and a user experience but sans can offer online and and product level. Let's talk about the products just a little bit. I noticed that you can actually enter your own measurements and get what you call the perfect t shirt. Do you mind elaborating a little bit on that. So this was, as I said in the beginning, I think a strong part A DNA is modern appeal mixed with the sustainability factor what will be realised right at the beginning is a little extra that I personally Sorry, I personally struggled and struggled myself because every time I bought a sweatshirt or a T shirt, I couldn't find the size, I couldn't find my right size. So I'm rather rather skinny. But not but quite tall about normal size, I'm generally skinny, I should say. So a medium normally ended up being too short, whereas a large would be normally very wide. So we came up with the idea to have a few more sizes. And to help our customers to find the correct size. We developed obviously a tool that a lot of testing, research and so on. And fittings, I should say, actually fitted fitted our T shirt on the T shirt sizes on hundreds of people and took their measurements. And because we want to take it very simple. So we just asked for your body size, your shoe size, and your weight. And then we suggest you the perfect size that we offer. Because as I said, we offer a bit more and typicals extra small through WL or whatever is the standard, we offer them different lengths to it as well. But this can be quite confusing, and we found this immediately. So we came up with this calculator which within two seconds we give you the perfect size of what we think is the perfect size. Obviously you could argue tastes a different some like the shirts a bit tighter some a bit wider. So we did one more add on that you can also select your fit preference between them or looser or more slimmer fit. And then we give you the perfect t shirt size on incensed without you having to worry about your T shirt not fitting too much. So far, we obviously don't have a benchmark because we introduced this right at the beginning. So I can't really tell you people are now more satisfied or less satisfied with their size. But I think compared to like industry levels, we have very, very low return rates. If we have returns, there's the majority of them out obviously related to sizes still. But not everyone uses our calculator to select a size for some of you, but just habit might use might use the normal way to select a size themselves. So I can't really tell you, if we managed to lower or satisfy people more, I'd have less problems in size. But so far, we have extremely good response to that it's very user friendly tool, which we also used in the beginning and quite honest and first launched last last spring, use it as a b2b marketing vehicle because it's obviously quite attractive for a lot of people, especially men who might be a bit more lazy when it comes to online shopping that within a few seconds, you get your perfect t shirt and everything today, so get it and deliver to your doorstep. So I think this was a very easy to communicate messaging in terms of brand perspective. I want to tie it up a little bit but actually I think is the most and most unique selling point of sandwiches what I explained before but I think the sizing sizing was a nice gimmick, but very practical for consumer as well. And I really enjoy your website, Benjamin, it's very clean, very clear. You know, there's no fast to it. It's almost like the brand is like a mirror of the brand, isn't it very minimalist, it has kind of everything in its right place. I'm, I'm a bit of a nut when it comes to e commerce sites because I had one, I made one for myself when I when I went to shop a couple of years ago. So to find something that actually does look appealing and very persuadable. So did you build this yourself? Did you get your own team? And what was the process of getting? Yeah, the room is also a perfect example. So I obviously like relied on my previous network of my previous experiences. So this is a completely built from scratch. But I'll buy an external agency to build it for us like the gimmick I was describing the size finder was obviously something that needs to be programmed up to a template and so on and I have this very clean appear. I had a very strong vision of how I wanted it to look like. So this was built from scratch, I guess yeah. Yeah, no, I really like it. Enjoy it. Thank you. So the brand actually has a very classic look to it. And if you're not there already, have a look at the show notes. We'll put all those up at menswear style decoder UK but you can also check out samsung.com as a n v t. How do you look to expand it from here from this kind of baseline? Well, as I said, I mean we want to be known as a brand that is extremely specialised into into particular items. So I think a strong for credibility point of view for our consumers. We want to be seen and I think we all Want to be the experts of this particular item, as I said before, was that T shirt can be added some sweatshirts for with a sweatshirt and a hoodie. And now we just added actually, yesterday, we just added a Chino, so we want people to believe us, they did a lot of research, they did a lot of testing to really come up with the perfect genome and their latest example. So expanding it Be very careful in its in expanding and expanding it. But then we had also a huge reaction from women's I mean, from the beginning, we launched a brand as kind of genderless unisex appeal. But again, the styles are obviously inspired by menswear. So it's also menswear sizing and so on. And if you want to do women's, you need potentially doing some specific women's silhouettes when we talk about t shirts for instance. So far, I think nearly 30% of our customers are actually women and I mean women buying for themselves not for the partners. So this would be a logical thing potentially looking into women's range. And then surprisingly, especially people that look into some from this sustainable grain Climate Neutral plastic free approach we had a lot of response when I said before from women buying us also potentially looking into kits of junior products. So this could be another area that might be interesting for us initially was never on the agenda but this is a bit the consumer feedback comes in interesting. But I think on a short to medium term, we might add a few rather unisex garments that fits together with our current range. And then we might go into these other segments as I said, nice well congratulation Benjamin I think you go great product here. Great website. And so what is what is Felix do what's his role in all this? Well, apart from he's obviously my looking into the most important function so into legal legal accounting and so on. So he's also not working on something on a date day to day basis. So, I will be kind of the day to day task management's and he is then also obviously my very partner when we look about more the strategic approach what I just said before and which kind of segments we want to go into potentially how we want to grow this brand because as I said before, when we when we have when you have your T shirt in like nearly 22 sizes nowadays in stock. Obviously every new product launch is also like quite heavy on capital needs. So this is also things Felix would look after. Say for one more the ball boring and not so sexy sides of business is Felix over to you. Exactly. This is another contract. Please help out. Yeah, I've done all my interviews today. This is your turn. Listen, thanks again Benjamin for taking time out again. We'll put all the show notes and you can check everything out over at menswear style.co.uk but be sure to drop by stamps.com and check it out you awesome like I say that chinos a new online now you've got the sweatshirts, hoodies, t shirts, different colours and yeah, no, it looks like a great brand. So Best of luck with it. Thank you so much for your time. Thanks, Benjamin. Take care yourself. about that. Just a really nice, affable, unassuming gentlemen, my kinda guy. Thank you, Benjamin. So make sure you're supporting the good guys and head over to samsung.com. Treat yourself to some sustainable teas or chinos. In the meantime, thanks for tuning in. If you like what you're hearing, leave a review. Maybe there's a brand or a person you think would make a great guest for the show. Put your suggestions in a comment we read all of those over on iTunes or wherever it is that you listen to. Until next time.