Mott & Bow founder Alejandro Chahin's fuss-free approach to denim making resonates with consumers.
What’s an engineer with an MBA from New York University doing launching a denim brand in an increasingly competitive market? Just following in his father’s footsteps—and disrupting an entire industry.
Back in the 1980s, Alejandro Chahin’s family created a denim manufacturing business in his home country of Honduras, instilling in him both a love for, and deep knowledge of denim. “My father believed in taking me to work early on so I could learn from him and other people, and get a good work ethic at the same time,” Chahin said.
Flash forward a few decades, and the now-New Yorker has launched his own indigo empire, Mott & Bow. What started as a Kickstarter campaign back in 2014 is now a full-fledged denim brand, with a lineup of men’s and women’s jeans that’s growing more popular by the minute—and shaking up the way people think about premium denim.
Chahin’s passion for high-quality jeans, combined with his knowledge of the actual cost associated with making a great pair, were the foundation for Mott & Bow’s promise to be “the naysayers of $200 jeans.”
“I felt like I had the opportunity to deliver a phenomenal product at a great price that wasn’t $200 or $250,” Chahin said. “I didn’t want to pass on excessive costs to the consumer just because I could.”
Mott & Bow’s vertically integrated business model allows the entire denim process to be done in-house—from designing and stitching to finishing and treating—before the jeans are shipped direct to consumer without additional retail markups. Styles start at just $96, with the most expensive pairs ringing in at $128.
“We’re trying to sit somewhere that we can bring premium-quality jeans that are typically priced at $250 to a price point of $100-$125,” Chahin explained. “What we’re able to do is get people who are already buying at that price point and deliver them a better product.”
As of 2017, Mott & Bow is also delivering more products in general, thanks to the launch of its tops category, offering $30 T-shirts to men and women and men’s shirts starting at $69.
“We knew our customer appreciated the value proposition of a premium product at a fair price, so we’re just trying to deliver more product categories they would be interested in,” he said. “We want to make every new product category as exciting for the customers as it was in jeans. And that’s not easy to do. It takes between 12 and 18 months to develop a new product category.”
While more categories are coming soon, so too is international shipping, which the brand will test online in the near future. In the meantime, Chahin and his team are staying focused on simplicity—something the brand creator says shines through in everything Mott & Bow does, from the website design to the actual product.
“You don’t see back-pocket embroidery. You don’t see branding that says to the world, ‘Hey, I’m wearing Mott & Bow,’” Chahin said. “We just want to focus on what makes things good. And for jeans, that’s fabric quality, fit and washing.”
What is your first denim memory?
“I can remember playing on top of the denim cutting tables and running around the factory when I was five years old. I remember playing in the laundry room as a teenager. I loved all the drying processes.”
What is your favorite pair of jeans?
“The Jay, a Mott & Bow style made with a left-hand weave from an Italian mill. Left-hand weave is not the norm, and it’s hard to do because recovery is typically not great. This left-hand weave is phenomenal—it’s very soft to the touch and has great recovery. It doesn’t bag out.”