If you’re a smaller guy like myself, often times you have difficulty with dress shirts not fitting properly. Growing up, I was always very thin and when I got my first office job, I had a hard time finding slim dress shirts for men so I wouldn’t look like I had borrowed my dad’s clothes. Even today, I still find myself unhappy with the way clothes sometimes fit. Well, a new men’s dress shirt brand by AAPI entrepreneurs Tanya Zhang and Wesley Kang called Nimble Made is solving this issue for slim fit men everywhere.
Nimble Made Slim Dress Shirts for Men
Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders have long been victims of underrepresentation in American culture. This is especially true in the fashion industry. Nimble Made cofounder Tanya Zhang recalls the times she tried taking her father shopping for clothes at the mall. As an immigrant from China, he dislikes shopping for clothes in America because nothing is ever in his size. This is because fashion brands mass produce clothes to fit the majority of consumers.
The average height and weight for a man in the U.S. is 5’8″, 198lbs. However, the average height and weight for a man in China is 5’5″, 146lbs. Most brands do not accommodate for the minority and, as a result, men who are shorter and slimmer have a hard time finding clothes that fit them properly.
Such was the case for Nimble Made’s cofounder Wesley Kang, who needed to buy dress clothes for his job as a financial analyst. As a Taiwanese-American, he suffered from billowy waists and puffy sleeves, aka pirate arms—not the most flattering or confidence-inducing looks. Wesley and Tanya wanted to find the right dress clothes for men that were slim fit and decided to take it upon themselves to create their own line. This is a remarkable feat, considering neither of them had ever worked in the fashion industry before.
Launching a Startup with No Experience
So what was it like launching a startup with no prior fashion experience? Not as difficult as you think, Tanya says. Before founding Nimble Made, Tanya Zhang studied graphic design and interned as an art director for an ad agency in New York. While later working as a visual designer for Ernst & Young, she helped redesign tech interfaces for user experience. Because of her extensive background in design, Tanya was able to adapt her abilities to create an identity for Nimble Made, an approach she says was “pretty seamless.”
The most difficult part of jumping into fashion was learning the language and specs of the industry. Luckily, the Nimble Made cofounders were able to find a supplier in China that was willing to work with them as they became familiar with the process. Tanya’s advice for entrepreneurs who wish to take the leap into an unknown industry is to do extensive research. There’s always going to be something you don’t know when it comes to entrepreneurship and you will have to figure it out along the way, regardless of past experience.
“I don’t think it’s absolutely necessary that you need to work an x amount of years before launching your startup. The most important thing is that you have a passion for what you are doing and that passion is big enough to get you through those obstacles.”Tanya Zhang, Cofounder Nimble Made
AAPI Representation and Adaptation
Although they were inspired to start their brand based on the needs of Asian American men, Tanya says their intention was not to launch a product line exclusively for this demographic. Their goal was to cater to the needs of all slimmer men and the outpour of support by the Asian American community has been both surprising and overwhelming. What’s incredible is that now Tanya’s dad and Wesley himself have clothes that give them the confidence to go out on the grind.
The world is not black and white, which is why Tanya believes representation is so important. There have been many pain points that slimmer Asian American and Pacific Islander men have faced when it comes to ill fitting clothes, and it brings the Nimble Made cofounders great joy to represent that niche.
“It’s really exciting to be probably the only Asian American-inspired dress shirt brand targeting this market.”Tanya Zhang, Cofounder Nimble Made
Nimble Made also stands out from traditional menswear lines because they conduct their measurements by height and weight, not neck and sleeve size. They even have detailed visual guides on their website that break down exactly how dress shirts will fit before purchase. This is a lifesaver for anyone who has ever had to purchase clothes online before and not been happy with the fit of the product they received. Because of this feature, anyone who feels like they don’t have the average American body type can find the right fit for themselves on the Nimble Made website.
As the world is experiencing a shift to remote work, Nimble Made is also making plans to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic. They are looking at more casual options for their menswear line, including designs that feature plaid and flannel. The future of the workforce is looking vastly different and entrepreneurs want stylish, yet comfortable options for working from home and Nimble Made aims to fulfill their desire.
Have you ever experienced issues with finding slim fit dress shirts for men? Let us know down in the comments.
This article originally published on GREY Journal.