Take a trade as old as time and inject it with a healthy dose of technology, determination and strong entrepreneurship. Spotlight on Nathon Kong, a Montreal-based custom tailoring service that’s rocking the fashion world.
Fashion on the go
The world of fashion is experiencing a profound change. From brick and mortar to a mostly online experience, fashion is evolving once again, this time around combining the best of technology with mobility and a strong customer-centric minding. The result is fashion on the go, of which Nathon Kong is a pioneer.
Founded in 2015, Nathon Kong offers a mobile and personalised tailoring service for men. Kong’s Griffintown-based company on wheels goes directly to businesses downtown Montreal and dresses top executives in sharp, high-quality suits and shirts. The inspiration came to Thailand-born Kong after a painful suit shopping experience. “I had to go to a fancy store and I couldn’t even get what I wanted. The process was complicated, I was intimidated, I paid a lot of money and I didn’t get the quality that I was paying for.”
Thus the company was born after a lot of research. In order to cut operational costs and to stand out from the crowd, the idea of using a truck came naturally. “I wanted to put my name out there”, explains Kong. “I wanted to be innovative, unique. From a customer perspective, I wanted to make it easy, simple; I wanted to reduce the cost of retail and I wanted to make it flexible. I thought: what can I do to make sure that I could give an AMAZING suit to my customer at a price that makes sense? I tell my customers ‘I’m offering you a Ferrari at a price of a Lexus’”.
Photo credit: Damian Siqueiros
Tailoring the customer experience
Tailoring a good suit or shirt is paramount to customer satisfaction but so is the shopping experience. With Nathon Kong, the client is at the forefront of every business decision taken. “I want them to feel relaxed, says Kong. I don’t want them to feel pressured. The shopping experience needs to be short, simple and effective. Our average time is around 30 minutes and the industry average is around 1h to 1h30.” But being effective doesn’t equate with being curt. The shopping environment is one of luxury and small attentions: coffee, cognac, sparkling water or whisky await at every visit. Nathon Kong works on a by-appointment-only system, which enables every customer to get 45 minutes of fully focused attention in a private showroom.
Bridging the gap between fashion and innovation
Perhaps Nathon Kong’s true tour de force is its novel use of technology to enhance that customer experience. The solar-powered truck, affectionately dubbed “Elizabeth Tailor” is configured with a 3D scanner, which takes 360-degree, 450-point measurements of your body in about approximately 5 seconds. These measurements are so precise, in fact, that no touch ups are required in 70% of cases - which is exceptional for the industry.
The measurements are then sent in real time to a factory abroad. Following this comes the fun part: choosing the fabric, the cut and the lining. Still the attention to detail and to quality is unmistakably important: Kong hires an Italian consultant to help him pick fabrics and uses the same tailor who produces suits for brands like Armani.
To think that Nathon Kong doesn’t carry any inventory in stock may seem odd to some but to Kong this is the very essence of “made-to-order” – each suit is unique, each shopping experience, distinct.
Within 4 to 6 weeks the customers get their individual, one-of-a-kind creations, perfectly tailored to them, delivered to their home or office. These suits retail between $775 and $2100 while shirts cost between $125 and $150.
Photo credit: Damian Siqueiros
Promoting and encouraging local innovation
Despite the success of his fashionmobile, Kong doesn’t want to be reduced by it. Constantly striving to innovate, the multiple award winner is hard at work pushing his custom tailoring experience to the nth degree. “We’re working with local Montreal artists to design patterns for the lining we use inside our suits. We also collaborate with Les Impatients, using the art of mental health patients. I want my customers to feel like they are wearing something meaningful, impactful - that they are wearing a cause.” Each lining is numbered, like a piece of art to give due credit to the artist. “There’s a story behind every single suit that my customer wears”, enthuses Kong.
Promoting local artists is something Kong and the Quartier de l’Innovation share in common. “As a company, we need to encourage each other and promote each other. I think Quartier de l’Innovation is a great way for us to connect”, says Kong.
2017 holds for Kong a strengthening of his relationship with various artists as well as the possibility to permanently set shop downtown. One thing is for certain: this Montreal start-up is just getting started and change the landscape of fashion.