When serial entrepreneur Chris Lindland began selling horizontal-wale corduroy pants dubbed "cordarounds" back in 2005, he was experimenting with the idea of unexpected fashion. The results were conclusive: People loved it. Soon there were shiny disco pants, reversible smoking jackets, and commuter khakis. Today, the company Lindland co-founded boasts a team of 50, an expansive retail outpost in San Francisco's Mission district, and a rapid-fire production cycle. Betabrand releases 20 to 30 new products each month, relying on user-submitted designs and preorders to stay dynamic.
The company is known for its nerdy tech sensibilities – the Executive Hoodie was a popular homage to Mark Zuckerberg – but Lindland wants to be more than a costume designer for Silicon Valley. We spoke to him about humor's place in fashion and why the Internet matters.
Break the Betabrand experience down for us. What do you give guys that they won't find anywhere else?
We sell ideas and experiences in fabric form. And we do our very best to deliver 'em fast, funny, and nonstop. We crowdsource design. We crowdsource photography. And if you're not already interested in visiting our site, we sell a fabric called Vagisoft.
How has technology fueled Betabrand's evolution?
Technology enables you to create an infinite clothing catalog, one filled with zillions of images, products that unify vocal social networks.
What are your customers into these days?
People are presently nuts about our Dress Pant Sweatpants (for men) and Dress Pant Yoga Pants (for women.) As I see it, folks are looking for more athletic workwear and we have all kinds of designs in the works that speak to that experience.
What do you want to replace the vanilla experience of shopping at department stores with?
Dressing with a sense of humor is part of Betabrand's DNA. How can guys strike a balance that leaves them looking good, but makes them more approachable.
We like to give our products a wink. If you look closely or inquire, there's a big story behind a simple product. Our black sheep sweaters (pictured), for instance, look like black sweaters, but they're made of actual black sheep. So if you're the black sheep of the family, you can wear the genuine article.