Former marketer to CEO of Differio, Jimmy Chrabieh discusses how he’s building the business that’s changing the face of online menswear. This is what it takes to lead the e-commerce industry with a devotion to making mens fashion different.
What was your main inspiration for tackling men’s fashion instead of venturing into womenswear?
There was a big demand for stylish menswear. Menswear has always been boxed into this category that’s very classic and traditional. It’s very difficult for men to find clothing that resembles high fashion styles. Although there were runway designers releasing these ready to wear looks, it’s just not affordable nor is it an easily accessible way to get stylish clothing by any means. Whether it’s fast fashion, affordable or designer clothing, womenswear is already crowded with every kind of attire.
We felt the biggest need was to target men that are hungry for fashionable, trendy pieces. Like anything in fashion, it’s fast-paced and caters to today’s generation, which would be the millennials. With the surge of brand ambassadors and style bloggers, men are getting massive exposure to the way others look and dress. The way men approach self-care and fashion is rapidly evolving into this generation of men that care about the way they present themselves to the world.
As a leader in e-commerce menswear, how does Differio stand out from the other online stores?
The meaning behind Differio derives from the word “different”, and the motto that drives us everyday is “Fashion Different”. Our objective is to be different in every way possible that makes us an exemplary team. We’re raising the bar for our competitors. Although our menswear is fashion forward, we don’t only rely on the products to make ourselves stand out. We apply this in our customer service skills, trend projection, and even photography style. It’s not just about making men’s fashion different, but also delivering a shopping experience that’s unparalleled.
Among your infamously unique brands, what qualities do you look for before featuring an independent designer?
Apart from searching for that unique factor, we take into consideration the way brands present themselves. They must cohesively fit with our website with high-quality products that are sexy and affordable. As much as we look for independent designers that radiate exclusivity, they must share our vision of being original. In the past, we’ve had to decline offers by some larger, high profile brands because we just weren’t on the same page with long-term goals and aesthetics.
After 20 years of fashion marketing, how did your experience help shape Differio into today’s top menswear site?
A business can’t thrive today without a thorough knowledge of marketing. It’s been a tremendous advantage gaining insight into various consumer behaviors across cultures, psychographics and demographics. The objective should always be about creating a connection with your customers. Consumers will go out of their way to return to your store, but this is even more imperative for online stores because you’re dealing with people across every continent.
Differio is constantly circuiting on the news and going viral. What’s your strategy for making headlines?
People are curious to explore anything that’s out of the norm. They’re tempted to click on links or discover new websites that have that shock factor. This is how we’ve continued to reap the benefits of disruptive marketing. We’ve created strategies that make it impossible for our audience to ignore from creative campaigns to one-of-a-kind product releases. The huge advantage to this is that there’s no need for large investments in paid marketing because going viral is free publicity. Consumers are pushed to share your campaign because they can either relate with your message or they’re eager to share something that’s radically out of the ordinary. Of course, it helps to stay in contact and develop a relationship with the media and fashion industry, which is what we’re doing by keeping them updated on our current events, like photo shoots.
As a pioneer in fashion forward menswear, what were your initial thoughts on the bringing this concept to the U.S.?
We were confident that we were creating something in the U.S. that no one else has done before. After exhaustive market research, we discovered that U.S. customers were craving more in fashion and art. American men want menswear that breaks from the traditional style of men’s clothing. They’re searching for style that makes a statement, like wearable art. We wanted to push these limits as pioneers in fashion, which is why we’re located in one of the biggest fashion capitals in the world, New York City.
Furthermore, we want to create a close connection with our U.S. customers by implementing different assets of American life into our website. One of the ways we’ve done this is by using models that our customers can look up to, such as military and fitness models.
Even though Differio is prospering today, what was the biggest difficulty when it first launched?
As amazing as it is being based in New York City, it’s not easy making your mark here. This is the home of fashion’s biggest global events, like New York Fashion Week. You’re not only trying to get your name out there, but also trying to be remembered. In a city where everyone’s wired to succeed, we’ve made it happen by committing to our objectives with a hardworking team. More than just being known inside the U.S., today we’re recognized around the world from London to Istanbul.
Since Differio is leading the menswear industry, are you ever concerned about others imitating your concept?
Imitation is the best form of flattery. When other businesses are copying your ideas, you’ve done something right. We’ve already noticed other online stores trying to copy our ad campaigns and brand strategies. However, the execution is just not the same. The spirit of Differio is to be different, which is impossible to achieve if you’re trying to be a clone.