In episode 352 of Total Retail Talks, Editor-in-Chief Joe Keenan interviews Ryan Bartlett, CEO and co-founder of True Classic, a direct-to-consumer (D-to-C) menswear brand selling affordable, high-quality fitted premium tees and basics. Bartlett discusses True Classic's product portfolio (0:49), why the D-to-C brand is currently exploring opportunities for expansion into physical retail (1:37), and his diverse professional background (2:51). He details his journey to founding and building the men's apparel brand (6:03), as well as a few of the key factors that have propelled its very rapid growth since its launch less than three years ago (11:56).
In addition, Bartlett discusses why inventory demand planning was a big challenge and crucial component to master as True Classic scaled so quickly (18:02), the technology investments and initiatives he's targeting for continued growth (21:28), and the brand's target customer demographic (25:01). Lastly, he shares what he believes makes a good leader and the qualities needed for effective leadership today (27:04).
Ryan Bartlett is the co-founder and CEO of True Classic, a premium menswear company built upon overindexing on customer value and giving back to the community. Since co-founding True Classic in 2019, Bartlett has been building the brand, business and social impact strategy through intentional product design, top-notch customer service, entertaining ads, and large-scale donations.
After earning his Bachelor's degree in music business from Full Sail University, Bartlett began a career in the music industry as a music producer and live jazz musician in Atlanta. After years of struggling to make ends meet, he gravitated towards poker and found some early success. Bartlett eventually moved to Las Vegas to play professionally, but that didn't last more than a few months before he went broke. He then transitioned to working in the nightclub industry before getting burnt out and going back to school to earn his Master's degree. Upon graduating, Bartlett moved to Los Angeles where he briefly worked in the music industry before realizing he wanted to go down a different path.
Bartlett started SEO Direct, which went on to become a nationally recognized internet marketing firm. While at SEO Direct, he spent 10 years helping businesses increase their exposure and revenue through a variety of performance marketing tactics. Bartlett's unique background in business, music and poker paired with his frustration with the men's T-shirt category led him to create True Classic with his co-founders Nick Ventura and Matt Winnick.