Eric Huang (MGTE ’13) knew he was not alone. But he didn’t know just how much company he had.
Huang stands 5’8” in his stocking feet. He and fellow aspiring entrepreneur Steven Mazur, who is 5’6”, were brainstorming for entrepreneurial ventures when they landed on a problem they both experience as shorter guys. Their clothes never fit just right because the sleeves or inseams are too long. How common a problem is that? they wondered. The answer astounded them. One in three men in the country — that’s 40 million — are 5’8” or below. “That’s a lot of guys,” Huang says, who knew an unmet market niche when he saw one.
Earlier this year, Huang and Mazur launched Ash & Anvil, a clothing company to meet the needs of men 5’8” or under. Their Everyday Shirt, a casual button-down, is designed for a comfortable fit throughout with a better taper at the waist and the right body and sleeve lengths. The first shirts began shipping to online customers in October. Customers are already clamoring to know when Ash & Anvil will roll out a full clothing line — jeans, khakis, tees and athletic wear. “We’re not making custom clothing,” Huang says. “Our goal is to make clothing that fits a lot better off the rack for the majority of shorter guys. That’s the sort of the experience that’s missing right now.”
Huang and Mazur first met as Venture for America (VFA) fellows in Detroit. VFA builds and supports entrepreneurial communities in challenged cities, with the ultimate goal of job creation. “At the end of the program, they encourage you to stay in the city and start companies,” says Huang, who has grown strong feelings for Detroit. In fact, the company name is inspired by Detroit’s slogan, “We hope for better things; it will arise from the ashes.” And it might be dressed in a gingham-button down. Just sayin’.