Founder, Hentsch Man, aged 30
With a background in graphic design and branding, Alexia Hentsch was working for influential tastemaker Tyler Brûlé at his Winkreative consultancy when she spotted a gap in the market for the perfect white shirt. It had to be well cut and a “decent price”, says Hentsch.
Starting in 2008 with a very small run and largely selling direct to family and friends, Hentsch Man was quickly noticed by super-cool indie Opening Ceremony in New York, which “pushed us to build the brand – with trousers and knitwear – to make it into a full collection”, she says.
With no fashion industry background, Hentsch used her initiative and contacts; a native Brazilian Portuguese speaker, she initially had all her product made in Portugal. Now, as the collection has grown, she also uses Italian and Spanish factories. “We’re committed to Europe, and it’s practical because the factories are happy with small minimums.”
While the emphasis remains on the fit, the brand has moved away from white-only shirts. The autumn 12 collection, showing at Pitti Uomo, includes knitwear and is the biggest to date.
As well as Opening Ceremony, the brand has grown to 25 accounts worldwide, including The Shop at Bluebird, Trunk and Mr Porter in the UK.
While Hentsch would eventually like to open a Hentsch Man standalone store, she is content for now to “have a really good time and make fun of ourselves”.
But the business is no joke – in just a few seasons, turnover has reached £1m and wholesale account orders are doubling each year.