The next big idea of David Schottenstein, founder of Astor & Black Custom Clothiers, hits major retail stores nationwide.
By COLlive reporter
The business is in the details.
David Schottenstein believes he's on to the next big thing in menswear, an industry that sells over $4 billion of products each year.
The founder of custom clothier Astor & Black, Schottenstein said he encountered a wide-spread problem that irks many, yet had few steady solutions.
"The problem [with men's shirts] was that there was no easy collar stay option—a set of collar stays to fit every shirt I put on," said the Ohio native who now lives in Bal Harbour, Florida.
"I would either have to use a different size for every shirt or cut a collar stay to fit the collar I was wearing. I've even cut a good pair of collar stays in half before, because it was so frustrating to not be able to find the right size collar stay in a hurry."
The result was Swiss Stays, a patented collar stay which adjusts to 4 different lengths that fit most men's shirts on the market and keeps the collar upright and sharp looking.
Similar to the Swiss Army Knife design, the stay has rotating attachments for added length. It comes in PVC plastic, stainless steel, brass, titanium and sterling silver in a one-size fits all format.
"I invented a solution to fix that issue," says Schottenstein, who invested with his uncle Jay Schottenstein and cousins between $500,000 to $600,000 in the Swiss Stays company.
Last year, Schottenstein sold a majority stake in Astor & Black to Massachusetts-based private equity firm Castanea Partners (for an undisclosed amount) and he now has more time to pursue new opportunities.
He continues to maintain a small ownership stake in the company he founded in 2004 that won him success.
"It's a field that I took a personal interest in, but I am no longer involved in the day to day running of the business," he says. "They still call on me for advice and input and I maintain great relationships with the sales reps and executives there and Castanea Partners as well," he says.
As of recently, leading American clothing chains are carrying the new stays including Brooks Brothers, Macy's, Saks Fifth Avenue, Lord & Taylor, Men's Wearhouse, Express, DSW, PaulFredrick.com, Patrick James, Stitched Lifestyle at Cosmo, Andrew's Ties, Holt Renfrew and The Bay in Canada.
Distribution deals for China, India, the E.U. and U.K have recently been inked and product has started to ship to those territories as well. COLlive was told the company is expected to announce its largest deal yet in the coming weeks.
Schottenstein, a donor to Chabad causes, likens his invention to other high-end creations of everyday items.
"Swiss Stays has created a high quality and convenient option for collar stays the way Parker fashioned a high-end, highly convenient alternative to the old-fashioned dip pen. These days, how many people do you still see using dip pens with jars of ink? I believe that this adjustable collar stay will very quickly become the standard collar stay in the men's clothing industry."
The Swiss Stays option is coming at the right time, with more and more people become increasingly style-conscious. "People like to look put-together—sharp, solid, crisp—now more than ever," Schottenstein says.
"When you go into a meeting you want to look your best, and we enable that. Especially with the revolutionary collar-stay concierge service; we deliver collar stays to anyone, anywhere within 24 hours. Even if you're dressing casually with a collared shirt, you still need a good set of collar stays."
For COLlive.com readers, Schottenstein has created a discount code to be used on SwissStays.com enabling them to take advantage of a 15% discount. Enter F&FAM002 at checkout to take advantage of the offer.