Boston apparel startup Brunswick Park wants to take over the back of your office chair.
“When you wake up and get dressed, you want this thing you know can take you through your whole day, knowing you don’t know what your day is going to throw at you,” said Brunswick Park cofounder Alex Weaver. “Meetings pop up, drinks pop up, dinners pop up—you don’t want to change three times during the day.”
If Brunswick Park has its say, you won’t have to.
According to Kickstarter, you don’t want to.
The startup soft-launched its first line of “performance apparel” on the crowdfunding site Tuesday evening, and in just a few short hours, surpassed its $25,000 goal.
“We’re taking a big risk putting a co-ed line up on Kickstarter,” said cofounder Jessica Garbarino a week before unveiling Brunswick Park’s inaugural line. “But the Kickstarter audience is our audience. We want to hear what customers think. We want to master these products.”
The products are “twists on very classic staple designs.” Brunswick Park debuted with a men’s blazer and hoodie and a women’s jacket and bomber. Each range from $159 to $199 and feature “innovative details,” such as a wrist compartment big enough for a Charlie Card, no stitch buttons, or a zip-off feature on the women’s blazer so the piece can easily transition from day to night.
“We thought we were going to do a little test run before our big launch and it just took off,” said Garbarino in an email, referring to the early success of the crowdfunding campaign. “I think it speaks to the fact that people are really looking for products that are versatile and uncompromising when it comes to style and comfort.”
Garbarino left her job in public relations last summer with the goal of starting a New England-focused online boutique. But the closer she looked into the brands she wanted to sell, the farther she strayed from the idea. Appalled by the markups and margins, Garbarino refused to charge customers four times an item’s actual worth. Instead, she decided to go direct to consumer.
“I had that ‘it’s now or never’ moment,” Garbarino said, acknowledging that it helped to have a husband who launched a successful startup of his own. “Having his support, I couldn’t have done this any other way. I felt like I was given an opportunity I would be stupid not to take.”
When Garbarino shared her plans to create her own product, her husband Chase—cofounder of BostInno and VENTUREAPP—suggested she meet with Weaver, BostInno’s managing editor, who had been covering menswear and fashion startups for the site for more than two years.
“I’ve sat across the table from a bunch of founders who have made it or not made it,” Weaver said. “I have learned a lot from them.”
All it took was one meeting at Bostonia Public House for Garbarino and Weaver to realize they shared the same vision. They each had a gaping hole in their closet they wanted to fill—an item that married the comfort of activewear with an aesthetic not yet seen on the market. Brunswick Park’s pieces are made with a soft, natural, antibacterial fabric called Merino wool, which is breathable, able to wick moisture away from the body, and machine-washable.
“Merino wool is made for an animal to live in very different climates,” Garbarino said. “In the market, it’s really expensive. Because we’re cutting out the retailer, we don’t mind spending money on having a really quality piece of fabric. It’s a differentiator for us.”
Brunswick Park’s tagline, “Smarter Apparel,” speaks to the technical fabric, made specifically for the startup out of a manufacturer in Hong Kong, China.
“It’s also ‘smarter’ in that it’s a smarter choice,” Garbarino added, “because you can choose one quality product over having five different jackets that serve the purpose of one.”
The challenge ahead for Brunswick Park is educating the everyday consumer on the value of a more technical, expensive fabric in an age of fast fashion dominated by brands like Primark and H&M.
“This is something that’s going to last you for years,” Weaver said.
Garbarino was quick to chime in: “And if it doesn’t, we’ll fix it for you.”
Brunswick Park prides itself on “transparency”—a word that takes prominence on its “About” page. The founders want their customers to know who’s behind the apparel they’re creating, hence a blog post highlighting Garbarino’s first factory visit.
“I think today’s consumers are so much more well educated than they ever were,” Garbarino said. “Before the Internet, no one knew where their clothes came from, but someone spent time making that. We’re not a nonprofit, we just want to do business right.”
With the early success of their Kickstarter campaign, it appears they are.
“We have big visions for the future,” Weaver said. “We’re already talking about next lines. Call that ballsy, but that’s fine. We’re confident in what we’re doing. We think we’re filling a niche in the market people really need.”
And that niche is apparel that will take you from “alarm clock to last call.”
“Whatever you have on the back of your office chair,” Garbarino said, “that should be Brunswick Park.”
Note: The author of this piece formerly worked at BostInno.
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