Ratio Clothing’s custom men’s dress shirts are giving pricey designer companies a run for their money
“Buy things that fit.” Sage advice, but hard to achieve when it comes to men’s dress shirts—unless they come with a designer price tag, says Eric Powell, founder of Denver’s Ratio Clothing, an all-custom men’s company that specializes in button-downs.
Nine years ago, when Powell was working as a management consultant for Deloitte, he became “oddly obsessed” with fixing the problem. “I started Ratio Clothing while working full time,” he says. “I’d work my normal 10-hour day and then run to my car for a conference call with a pattern maker in California. I learned everything about apparel manufacturing from scratch, down to ordering sewing books on Amazon.”
Whatever he did worked. Today, Ratio Clothing’s customers are as infatuated with a perfect fit as he is. “We have a showroom now, and we grow mostly by word of mouth rather than by advertising,” Powell says. “We’ve sold many tens of thousands of shirts.”
The LoHi company, which started online, fills the fit gap by offering custom button-downs, made in the United States using the world’s best shirting fabrics, that start at $98. They are sized through a unique online 60-second questionnaire or an in-person session at the showroom. “It’s almost as successful as an in-person first fitting with a tailor,” Powell says of his system. “We started with a simplified sizing program, but a lot of people don’t know their measurements. Customers would email and ask us what size they should be. I found myself repeating the same questions, and realized that, just by knowing the answers, I could come up with their size. We systematized that process to create an algorithm, which asks customers basic questions they’ll generally know and then tells them their best size.”
As for designs, Powell and his three-member team curate styles according to a brand aesthetic. “We do not hand you a big book of swatches to pick from,” he says. “We have a more thoughtful, designed approach. We avoid gimmicks and overcomplicating things. We want to be straightforward in the way we present our clothing—with great materials, great products and great service.”
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