Online Men’s Underwear Seller Mack Weldon Sews Up $4M Series A Round
Every startup goes mining for glittery fortune—this one has actual silver woven into its garments.
New York-based Mack Weldon announced Tuesday it raised $4 million in a Series A round for its direct-to-consumer premium undergarments. Investors in the round included RiverPark Ventures, Bridge Investments, and Lyrical Partners. Along with the funding, the company added Howard Socol, former CEO of Barneys New York and J. Crew, to its board.
The Mack Weldon website sells men’s t-shirts, undershirts, socks, and underwear made with a custom blend of high-end Pima cotton and other fabrics—including a line of undergarments with silver fibers in the weave.
CEO and founder Brian Berger says silver has previously been used in fabrics developed for the military, NASA, and Olympic athletes. “Silver is very good when applied in performance environments, for coping with heat and sweat,” he says. Silver fibers are antimicrobial, he says, which prevents odors. “Those qualities never wash out.”
Naturally such undergarments are not being marketed like a pack of undershirts at a discount store. One pair of Mack Weldon silver boxer briefs costs $34. A t-shirt, also with silver in the weave, costs $42.
Even without silver fibers, the rest of the products Mack Weldon sells skew to a higher-end market. A pair of socks, for example, starts at $12.50 each. “It’s not Hanes, Jockey, or Fruit of the Loom for the mass market,” Berger says.
He says the target customers for his company’s wares are men, typically 25- to 45-years-old, who are willing spend on premium brand apparel. “Calvin Klein, Ralph Lauren, J.Crew, Brooks Brothers, Banana Republic—that tier of products,” Berger says. “We’re probably on the lower-end of the price scale compared with some of those brands.”
Mack Weldon, which launched in 2012, draws some of its inspiration from Bonobos, a New York-based e-tailer of men’s apparel, when it comes to branding and reaching out to male consumers. Order fulfillment for Mack Weldon is handled by Quiet Logistics, Berger says, which uses robots from Kiva Systems to quickly process orders.
Berger’s company will still need to look to every edge to stand out among the deep field of e-tailers of underwear. For instance, another New York-based company, Tommy John, also sell men’s undergarments online as well as through retailers such as Nordstrom. There are also e-tailers of women’s lingerie, such as Adore Me, which is also based in New York.
Before founding Mack Weldon, Berger was vice president of strategy and development with Comcast Interactive Media, and prior to that worked for companies such as WebMD and Excite. He sees undergarments as products with a regular replenishment cycle, which he hopes means repeat business for Mack Weldon.
The new funding, Berger says, will go towards product development, marketing, and technology to further update Mack Weldon’s website. The company also plans to grow its current team of nine, he says.
Mack Weldon has plans that extend to offline sales as well. The company has a few wholesaler partnerships, with Equinox for example, Berger says. There are other retail options in the works—but it was too early to talk details. “We have a desire to test very, very small footprint direct retail, whether that’s a popup shop or some sort of mobile concept,” he says.