We are well aware of some of the more glaring numbers that led to Band of Outsiders' demise. Namely, the $2 million in debt the company was in when it folded. Now, The New York Times has gone in-depth on the brand's rise and fall to give us some of the finer points of what actually went wrong for Band.
Band of Outsiders designer Scott Sternberg was behind one of the first brands to popularize menswear's shrinking silhouette. Unfortunately, Band was not rewarded for its trailblazing ways. Instead, as Scott tried to expand deeper into retail—in hopes of transforming his business into a $40 million cashcow from a relatively modest $12 million-maker—the brand was met with several hurdles.
Eric Jennings, the menswear director at Saks, said that Band was in a difficult position because it was neither high-fashion nor one of the more affordably-priced modern prep labels, like Gant. "Scott was authentic in his vision and in his aesthetic," Jennings told the NYT. "It’s an exceedingly tricky place to be. I don’t think anyone has quite nailed that zone of business."
The brand also wasn't helped by the fast-fashion brands that started copying Band's aesthetic and offering similar fits to consumers at much lower pricepoints. "As soon as Brooks Brothers, J. Crew, and Uniqlo realized a large portion of men don’t want to have parachutes under their arms, they started making arguably a better product," fashion lawyer Doug Hand told the NYT. This was a huge blow to Band because those companies could do it "cheaper but still convey the story that was part of that fashion," Hand explains.
Although Sternberg has remained under-the-radar since Band went under, besides a single Instagram post announcing "the proverbial Fat Lady sings," the fund that took control of the brand hopes to keep it operational. However, as many former Band employees tell the New York Times, it will be hard to keep the brand going without the unique vision that powered it from the beginning. "It was so consistent and so spot-on," Roy Chan, who was the company's CEO, said. "And all of it was him. When I was there, almost every piece of copy he wrote himself."