How Shopify Plus enabled Chubbies to rapidly build a supply chain and scale its vintage shorts brand
In 2011 Tom Montgomery and a pair of college buddies turned heads on a Fourth of July weekend with the vintage shorts they were wearing. It was the start of Chubbies, a premium shorts brand that partnered with Shopify Plus to focus on creating a competitive advantage rather than worry about technology. Since partnering with Plus, Chubbies has achieved:
- 50% year over year sales growth
- A rapidly growing email list of 1.5 million “Chub Nation” members
- Internal expansion and new product lines targeting women
Tom MontgomeryCo-Founder, Chubbies
“We wanted to sell our lifestyle to people. When we decided to start this business we wanted to sell the notion of fun and embody that in every pair of shorts we sold.”
Selling really short shorts that seemingly went out of style in the 1970s or ‘80s at a premium price sounds insane in an industry chock full of formidable competitors and cutthroat pricing. It’s especially challenging when you consider that Montgomery and the Chubbies team want to manufacture shorts that remind us of weekends with our fathers in the U.S. rather than overseas as many apparel brands do.
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Born on Shopify, the first several runs of shorts Chubbies offered online sold out immediately and left a long list of customers waiting anxiously for new arrivals. The company upgraded to Shopify Plus so it could focus on branding and building out a supply chain in the U.S. rather than the heavy development work often associated with commerce platforms.
“We’ve been with Shopify from day one,” Montgomery says. “None of us are engineers so it’s great to be able to rely on Shopify’s experts so we can focus on innovating.”
Besides enabling Chubbies to easily offer U.S. service members discounts at the checkout, Plus has allowed Montgomery and his team to narrowly focus on sourcing cotton from mills in North and South Carolina as well as dying and sewing garments in California. Building out a supply chain was a four year endeavor that put Chubbies closer to its suppliers and enabled quicker product turns.
“It takes a strong commitment to manufacture here,” explains Montgomery. “Our customers understand it’s a bit more expensive but that’s because we’re investing in the U.S. and creating jobs our competitors outsource.”
Rather than interrupt shoppers with discounts or special offers to buy as many do, Chubbies relies heavily on its robust network of brand ambassadors scattered among college campuses to tell their story and generate sales.
The company also employs “thigh liberating” user-generated content to drive growth like 50% year over year sales increases, a rapidly growing email list of 1.5 million “Chub Nation” members, internal expansion, and new product lines targeting women.
“We’re just a small company doing big things,” Montgomery says. “The story we’re telling is big, emotional, and it’s our dream and we began seeing our customers are just as passionate about these things as we are.”
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