Enterprising Dallas fashion entrepreneur Kevin Lavelle has a lot to be excited about these days. In addition to securing $1.2 million in funding, the Mizzen+Main founder has just been named a 2014 Game Changer by Men’s Fitness for revolutionizing menswear with his moisture-wicking, wrinkle-free, stretch-to-fit dress shirts.
To provide some context for the honor, Lavelle is mentioned alongside innovators and influencers in fields ranging from sports to media, including Stephen Colbert, Pharrell Williams, Tim Howard, Casey Neistat and Michael Sam.
Lavelle launched his company in 2012, despite myriad obstacles, including the fact that the fabric, inspired by modern athletic gear, is finicky; many tailors and custom clothiers told him it was nearly impossible to achieve his vision.
“Some [industry] people were really just kind of assholes about it, and told me I’m crazy and stupid for trying to do this, and at a certain point in time it was just like, ‘You know, people didn't love cell phones at first either. Have a good day,’” Lavelle told Men’s Fitness.
His persistence paid off. The line, inspired by modern athletic gear, has expanded beyond dress shirts to include henleys, blazers and denim — all of which is manufactured in the United States. And because “patriotism is in their DNA,” Mizzen+Main donates a portion of all shirt sales to support veterans and their families through the company’s “A Shirt for A Start” program.
In addition, the company has partnered with One Team One Fight, the largest collective of Navy SEAL nonprofits, for the Wear RED (Remember Everyone Deployed) initiative, which raises awareness for currently deployed American servicemen and women. That kicks off Friday, September 12.
Lavelle has created an entirely new category within the apparel industry, one he calls a “true American professional performance brand.” He knew he was onto something — his target customer is a regular guy who just wants to wear real clothes that make him feel great — but he admits he has been blown away by the reception thus far.
“Mizzen+Main is going to transform the men’s shirting industry,” said David Schottenstein, who led the company’s current investment round, in a release. “I felt that I had made my mark in the clothing business after selling Astor & Black, and moved on to other industries. But when presented with Mizzen+Main, I recognized immediately this was an opportunity I had to get behind. I have never seen or worn anything similar to their shirts.”