A Drawer of Drawers
By Julianna Rose Dow, Fashion and Textile Studies
Photos courtesy of Basic Outfitters
In 2014, when Laura Harari Dweck, Fashion Merchandising Management '11, moved in with her new husband, she was appalled by the state of his clothes. “Michael’s drawers were stuffed to the brim with worn-out things ... T-shirts and socks he had since college,” the Brooklyn native says.
“When he went to replace everything at once, it was a challenge to find quality affordable pieces all in one place.” Wondering if other men were as reluctant as Michael to freshen up these essentials, the couple conceived of Basic Outfitters, an online retailer that simplifies that process. “Guys are disgusting!” Dweck states. “We did some initial research and found out that on average, men keep their underwear for seven years.” The couple launched the site in November 2017. Though items can be purchased individually, the core offering is a drawer of T-shirts, socks, and underwear, as well as a hat or fleece jogging pant, for $60. Dweck says, “Our goal is to make it so easy that there is no excuse not to replace your drawers.” As is common with web startups, the biggest challenge was getting the word out. “People would always suggest we go on Shark Tank, so in 2016 I just sent a cold email to casting. A few months later, they called us for an interview!” The couple prepared for months for the 12-minute segment that aired in January 2017. “We had to look at every aspect of the business from all perspectives and be prepared for any question the sharks might ask,” Dweck recalls. “I was surprised by how real it was. In the end, they edit it to tell the story, but we really just had an hour-and-a-half conversation with the sharks.” They left without a deal, but the publicity from their appearance, combined with making the Forbes 30 Under 30 list in the same month, spurred exponential growth in 2017. The next step for the six-employee company is women’s staples. After all, Dweck points out, “women buy our [men’s] jogger for themselves already.”