Pants & People: The Bonobos Success Story

When Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly set out to start Bonobos they had one thing in mind: Make the perfect pair of pants. In just over a year from inception, they were doing $100k in annual revenue. Today, they have over 60 locations, a full suite of products including suits and dress shirts, and were just purchased by WalMart for $310 million.

So, how did they do it? By focusing on 2 things, their pants, and their people.


If you ask them they will tell you it was simple: they couldn’t find pants that fit. Neither could anyone they spoke to. From the dreaded “diaper butt” to the ugly boxy look, men’s pants had a problem that needed solving.

And so they focused on building the perfect pants. They sold 12,000 pairs of pants and raised 3 million in funding. However, while having the best pants on the market makes for a great paycheck, there is a much more important piece that allowed them to become one of the largest men’s clothing brands in the world.


From day 1, Bonobos vowed to take a different approach to their business model. Instead of investing money in traditional marketing methods, they instead invested in their customer experience and success teams. What resulted was a cult following willing to buy into whatever new interesting concepts the brand would try.

Dunn describes their approach as being, “maniacally focused on the customer experience and interacting, transacting, and story-telling to consumers.” Because they focused on the consumer at every point of their business from product-to-purchase and beyond, they were able to acquire new customers through the most efficient and successful method available, word-of-mouth. With this approach, they built a reliable base of brand loyalists.

The Success

With a stable of reliable customers behind them, Bonobos used the success of their perfect pants to launch new product lines and expand to the brand they have become today. Their customers were not only willing to try the new products but eagerly awaiting their arrival. If they can make something as simple as pants so great, imagine what they could do with the rest of the wardrobe.

They were also able to leverage their loyal following to pioneer a brand new style of store, the guide-shop. A store where you don’t walk out with anything. Had Bonobos not focused so much attention on customer success, this store model would have never worked. Their following knew they could trust Bonobos to ship their clothes in a timely manner and handle any complications that might pop-up.

Ultimately, if there is one major takeaway from the Bonobos success story, it’s to focus on your consumers and their experience with your brand. If you can turn your customers into a friend instead of a sale, you win. They will be open to and provide valuable feedback into, anything you want to test because they know you have their best interests in mind.

Endear is an app built to help you maintain these high-touch relationships with customers and empower your associates to be the friend your customers want and need in today’s competitive retail landscape.

‍This article was originally published by our friends at Endear.

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Steve has entrepreneurship in his DNA. Starting in the early 2000s, Steve achieved eBay Power Seller status which propelled him to become a founding partner of, a contact lens and eyewear retailer. Four years later through a successful exit from that startup, he embarked on his next journey into digital strategy for direct-to-consumer brands.

Currently, Steve is a Senior Merchant Success Manager at Shopify, where he helps brands to identify, navigate and accelerate growth online and in-store.

To maintain his competitive edge, Steve also hosts the top-rated twice-weekly podcast eCommerce Fastlane. He interviews Shopify Partners and subject matter experts who share the latest marketing strategy, tactics, platforms, and must-have apps, that assist Shopify-powered brands to improve efficiencies, profitably grow revenue and to build lifetime customer loyalty.

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