Ex Microsoft marketing honcho targets tall apparel
One of the great things about being tall is that people look up to you -- and that's about it, everything else is a hassle.
Okay, just kidding, and heck at 5' 10" I wouldn't know. But there is one definite hassle to being tall, finding a good selection of clothes in the right size.
It's a problem that's been nagging 6' 3" Mark Tindall for years. Finally, the former Microsoft marketing manager, who jokes about his "freakishly long arms," said he decided to do something about it, co-founding [Longshot Apparel](http://www.tallshirts.com.), an online store that specializes in custom-fit shirts for tall men.
"I had spent my time, eight years, being at a large corporation and knew I wanted to do something new, said Tindall. "As it turns out I was laid off in July, which was fantastic."
Most people wouldn't think being laid off is "fantastic" but Tindall says he's excited about the potential of his new business.
"There's a lot of frustration for guys my height and taller buying clothes off the rack. It drives me crazy because as you go up in size to buy a shirt that's long enough in the sleeves, all the other dimensions increase and it doesn't fit. Basically, you can't wear the cool clothes everyone else wears," he says. "I've always wanted to take care of that problem."
I checked with one of my basketball pals, 6' 6" Lyle Smith (no I don't guard him, but I love his screens), who confirmed Longshot Apparel is targeting a real need among taller, relatively fit guys.
"There is a market for tall and in shape. I have found that all the big and tall stores are generally just that -- tall and big rather than tall or big," said Smith. "Sometimes I can find clothes there, but often times not. I have gotten a lot of my dress shirts from Nordstroms and have been fairly happy with them although they of course are not a tailored fit."
Smith notes there are other alternatives, like [J. Hilburn](http://jhilburn.com/), that provides an online guide to custom apparel and "Personal Style Advisor's" you can schedule an in-person fitting with depending on your location.
Longshot Apparel's shirts can of course be purchased from anywhere since sales are all online. Tindall says the shirts are all designed and manufactured in the United States from Italian fabric for men 6' 1" to 6' 8" tall.
"We had to start from scratch to redefine fit for the tall, lean guy," says Susan Clare, one of the partners and an ex-marketing executive from Adidas. We developed our own Tailored Taller formula. Other brands simply make the shirt bigger all over rather than addressing the specific needs of someone who is tall and fit."
For now the company has a limited choice of shirts that are priced at $175, but Tindall says he expects the selection to ramp up. They're also trying to allay buyer's fears about buying online and getting the wrong size. Each shirt comes with free ground shipping and a free return policy.
"We want to take a page from Zappos and reduce the friction that comes with buying online," says Tindall. "So 'Don't charge me shipping and restocking fees, send me three shirts and I'll send back the ones I don't like or don't fit.' That's fine with us."
It's all quite a ways from Tindall's experience at Microsoft where he was involved in consumer marketing, entertainment and devices as well as some of the big retail launches of Windows and Office.
**The ex-Microsoft guy hops on the open source bandwagon**
While his former colleagues wish him well, he admits "more than a few eyebrows were raised" in response to his decision to use open source software (including the Magento ecommerce platform) to run the Longshot Apparel site.
But Tindall says it really wasn't a hard choice. "Some of the better products for ecommerce are open source," he said. "When you work at a company like Microsoft, it's all about scale and that played into my decision of what software to use - how could I drive scale without a huge infrastructure? And one of the great things is how well these programs work with search engine optimization.