Challenges must be embraced. Launching a fashion brand in 2020.

QIP.

So, we had one goal: bring you the perfect pique shirt for men. And we believe we did, setting the industry standard higher. Like with many start-ups, getting there was a bumpy road. But we managed to redefine what the perfect shirt must be like. Want to know more about that perfect pique shirt?

The start.

It all started early 2019 when Willem and I went for a steak at the famous Loetje restaurant in Amsterdam. Being disappointed by many shirts of retail brands, I sent Willem (back then my tailor and the only one making good shirts) a WhatsApp that we should start a new fashion brand as more customers must have similar issues with shirts as I had.

In the early 90s, Seinfeld (by the way, still the best sitcom to date) already made an episode about the shortcomings of the men’s shirt.

The Second button literally makes or breaks the shirt.  Look at it, it’s too high, it’s in no-mans-land. You look like you live with your mother.

And he couldn’t be more right. But there is more that could make or break a shirt. We listed what bugged us on shirts that were already out there. And that list became pretty long.

Customer first.

With so many mediocre shirts out there, we started from scratch and rebuild the shirt to perfection. Starting point was how you – our future customer – were going to use the shirt. From research it followed that you needed a convenient menswear shirt that could be used for both casual and formal occasions. But what is that going to look like?

Pique.

We started with the fabric. That needed to become more comfortable. Therefore, we decided to switch to pique. Pique is a complex product and looking at the quality is very important. If the wrong quality is used, it may result in the shirt losing its shape. We have seen pique shirts become double the length after just one wash, but also shrink to half the size. Or, after a couple of weeks, the shirt loses its shape around the hip and waist because of stretching fabric. That’s not what you want, right?

So, we were very keen on finding the best pique possible. At first this was a bit of trial and error, but along the way we became pique experts. We kept on looking for the perfect fabric, driving suppliers crazy with our constant focus on quality.

Design.

Once we found that perfect pique fabric, we looked at the design of the shirt. We looked at so many elements, including at the length of the shirt, at the positions of the buttons, at the collar, at how the collar keeps a firm stand, at what stitching does to comfort, at the measurements, at the gusset and so many other things. Being new in fashion, Jaap learned that product design is a lot more complex than he had ever thought.

Big challenge ahead.

Around December 2019, we had found both the perfect pique fabric and a very good production facility in Istanbul that was able to make high quality shirts. Early January 2020 we placed a first order and we started to prepare the launch of our brand in April 2020. But then COVID19 decided differently. The supply chain got disturbed. The specific yarns for knitting our pique fabric could not be shipped to Istanbul anymore. Not much later, the production facility in Istanbul went bankrupt because of the supply chain issues and we lost our production facility. After almost one year of hard work, we were back to zero.

Keep focussed.

We immediately started making calls and sending out emails to people we knew in the industry to look for introductions at alternative production facilities and suppliers of pique fabric. The response we received was amazing and within a matter of week we were looking at three alternative suppliers for pique fabric and were talking with five alternative production facilities. We started the process of testing the fabric and sampling the shirts all over, which was not an easy task given the travel restrictions and sadly a lot of production facilities being hit hard by COVID19. But they all did their best and worked very hard. As soon as the travel restrictions were lifted and we were able to fly to Portugal in Augustus 2020, things were moving into the right direction very fast.

Exceptional.

Although we had to delay the launch of our new fashion brand QIP and had to make large additional investments, it all turned out very well. We found a perfect pique fabric with a supplier in Portugal and were introduced to a small specialist production facility in Portugal that was able to make an exceptionally high-quality shirt, even exceeding our own expectations.

For more details of the shirt, check out the features and product pages. Hope you will enjoy wearing one of our shirts as much as we do!

Jaap & Willem (Founders)