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In Conversation with Alberto Gil of Hockerty

Hockerty was created by three young entrepreneurs at their early 20s as they realised it was difficult to find affordable tailor-made clothing. Like most other startups, they started from their own bedroom with money borrowed from friends and family. As the company grew, more young and passionate professionals joined the team and helped them grow the company. Their vision was to spread comfortable, elegant, and perfectly fitted clothing throughout the world. Ten years later, this dream has come true with more than 250,000 customers to date. Their team of more than 60 people are based in Zürich (Switzerland) with offices in Barcelona and Shanghai.

In a recent episode of the MenswearStyle Podcast we interviewed Hockerty Co-Founder Alberto Gil about the beginnings of his online business. The three partners were previously working within tech companies when they discovered and experienced made to measure tailoring in Shanghai, which first gave them the idea for Hockerty. Our host Peter Brooker and Alberto also discussed the obstacles of working with overseas tailors, targeting niche customers, digital innovation, body measurement technologies, overcoming competition, and how Covid-19 stopped people from buying suits and hindered production.

Please introduce yourself and what you do 

“I’m the co-founder of Hockerty and I’m in charge of innovation. We offer made-to-measure garments for men and we’ve been doing this for 12 years exclusively online. Customers come to our website, design their own clothing, and we produce it within 15 days made to their exact measurements. It started when 3 of the co-founders were working within tech companies, and one of my partners had been on a trip to Shanghai and he explained to me there was a strong tradition within suit making there. You could go and get a suit made in just 48 hours. He suggested we create something that mixes modern technology and this tailoring tradition in Shanghai, so customers all around the world could get a made-to-measure suit delivered in just 15 days. We have an engineering mindset, so we wanted to bring these operational processes to the way they were producing."

"Admittedly, the first orders we received were not perfect, but we were soon able to offer a consistent service to every customer. It isn’t an easy process, and that’s why there aren’t hundreds of companies like us. However, over the 12 years of operation, we have seen companies start up and offer similar ideas. Some are still our competitors today and are doing great, whereas others tried and failed. When working with overseas suppliers it is important to have people you can relying on residing there so you can have control and make sure everything is in order. We started from very little and we invested our profits from our first sales to keep growing. We’re a bootstrapped company, so we haven’t needed to raise money from investors to keep the business growing.”

How did the global pandemic affect the business? 

“At the beginning it hit us hard. People didn’t need to buy suits because they didn’t know when they would be required to go back to the office. Then within the following weeks, all the weddings and special events were cancelled. So, you can imagine the drop in sales was quite dramatic. But then after 4 weeks or so, sales started to recover, and we have a great team who saw opportunities. The fact that many local stores were closed, meant many new customers turned to online shopping. We’re in a much better position than we thought we would be when the pandemic first started.”

This is a shortened transcribed edit of episode 83 of the MenswearStyle Podcast with Alberto Gil, Co-Founder of hockerty.com. You can listen to the full version below or listen on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or your favourite podcast player.


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