Mark Brandsma doesn’t look like your typical fashion designer. He’s a tall, slender, middle aged man that just got tired of not being able to find a pair of jeans that fit well, or had pockets big enough to put his hands all the way in. Before becoming a Seattle Fashion Incubator Member Mark contracted with SFI to develop the patterns for the first three items of his new clothing brand for the tall and athletic male, and Six8 Clothing Company was born! Two years later Mark is now a Member of SFI, and we wanted to share his two year journey as a start-up apparel brand in the Greater Seattle area.
SFI – Tell us about your business?
MB ~ Six8 Clothing Company designs, produces and sells casual clothing for the Tall and Athletic man. We are a Seattle based company, that was founded in September 2012. We launched our first assortment on 6/29/13 at Spokane’s Hoopfest, the world’s largest 3 on3 basketball tournament. Despite being a new and unknown brand at our launch event, the concept of Six8 Clothing Co. was an instant hit with the tall men in Spokane.
It is our vision to provide the American classics in casual clothing with a Euro touch. We offer casual clothing that features proper sizing combined with on-trend styling for the tall man. The current “Big and Tall” model is outdated and broken and must be reinvented. At Six8, we are doing just that.
Our jeans come in 3 different, contemporary fashion styles, washes and fits, each in waist sizes 32” thru 40”, and each with inseams 34”, 36” or 38”. From the very popular dark rinse Slim Boot, to the very trendy Slim Straight Distressed, to the bit more conservative Relaxed jeans, most tall men will be able to find the style and fit that’s right for them.
Our shirts come in various styles: we offer cool v-neck tees so soft you’ll never want to take them off again. We offer on-trend, bright and fun summer plaids in 4 colors that are sure to light up any party or event. Our solid button ups, short or long sleeved, are versatile and stylish, looking sharp with cool Six8 jeans, or with nice khakis for a more dressed up look. Lastly, we introduced a long sleeve active polo for the winter that was an instant hit upon launch: soft, style and class in one, this polo will turn heads as the tall man works his scene!
SFI – What motivated you to start your business?
MB ~ As a 6’8” tall man, who has worked in Fashion retail for 15 years (5 in Europe, 10 in the US), it has always bothered me that apparel companies totally ignore the niche customer, in this case the tall customer. Regardless where I shopped (at the retailers I worked for, or anywhere else) I was sure to be disappointed by the lack of depth in offerings for someone my size. Tall sizes were hard to find, and conventional retail’s answer to my quandary became “Just get a bigger size”. This resulted in me wearing a shirt that was twice as wide as it needed to be, just get enough length. In jeans, it meant that the cool styles were something my friends would wear, the old, high rise, high water, grand-pa jeans would be the ones that I would wear.
After a 2nd corporate lay-off, I decided that I would combine my retail business knowledge with my personal shopping experience and build a business that would bring both Size and Style to the tall man.
Doing some research showed that there are 1.2 million men in the US that stand 6’4” or taller. Seeing the reaction to our initial launch, I am convinced more than ever that Six8 Clothing Co. finally fills that niche that so many customers have been waiting for to be filled.
SFI – What do you find to be your biggest business challenge?
MB ~ By far the biggest challenge is not creating the product, financing a capital intensive start up (though that ranks as the # 2 biggest challenge) or finding trust worthy and quality vendors, but by far the biggest challenge is to find and locate all the tall men across the country. It is one thing to know that there are 1.2 million of us out there. It’s something totally different altogether to know where each one of those 1.2 million live.
A second wrinkle in that biggest challenge is to overcome any cynicism that many tall men invariably will have towards any apparel company. This is understandable, as I, like them, have been disappointed as well, so many times, that it now takes some convincing to try on Six8 product for the very first time.
SFI – Why did you choose to join SFI?
MB ~ Going at any endeavor alone is a recipe for disaster. Especially when there are parts to the business that you’re not so familiar with. Everyone needs a team. SFI was that team, still is that team today. It provided resources and ideas for me that I did not know where to get. Through SFI, I have access to expertise in the apparel industry that I was lacking. Through SFI, I have instant access to a list of trusted vendors, manufacturers, marketing and advertising resources that would take months, if not years, for me to build by myself.
Lastly, SFI is where I am: in the Seattle area. We live in the same area, culture and environment. This has logistical advantages, as well as style and cultural advantages.
SFI – What would you like to see in a Seattle Garment District?
MB ~ Ideally, I would LOVE to see the entire vertical chain of the apparel industry represented in the Seattle Garment District. From fabric and notions vendors, to cut and sew factories, designers, educational institutions to raise up the next generations, access to startup capital from a variety of sources both private and institutional.
While Seattle features some members in nearly all those categories mentioned, it still lacks the volume and sheer bulk quantities in all of them, to be a major player in setting trends and dictating terms. That would be our continued goal to strive for!
SFI – Last, but not least where can consumers purchase your line?
MB ~ We currently sell on our own website www.sixclothingcompany.com as well as on Amazon.We also sell at remote live events, such as Spokane’s Hoopfest, WA State Fairs in Monroe and Puyallup, National Volleyball Coaches Association Conference in Seattle, and NW Women’s Show in Seattle, just to name a few. For a full list of our live events, please visit our website. You can also find us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and LinkedIn.