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Local suit shop uses social media to expand the brand

(Left to right) Roger Juang, a 2nd-year in logistics and operations management, Jordan Wright, a 3rd-year in strategic communication, Jake Mendel, a 2nd-year in finance, and OSU alumnus Nate DeMars, founder and CEO. Credit: Theresa Brady / Lantern photographer

(Left to right) Roger Juang, a 2nd-year in logistics and operations management, Jordan Wright, a 3rd-year in strategic communication, Jake Mendel, a 2nd-year in finance, and OSU alumnus Nate DeMars, founder and CEO.
Credit: Theresa Brady / Lantern photographer

Prepare to see a fleet of well-dressed guys on campus next week, as Pursuit menswear shop expands in upcoming months and launches its first campus ambassador program.

With a successful first year under its belt, the suit shop, which began as Ohio State alumnus Nate DeMars’ class project, will launch its first class of campus ambassadors on Oct. 21 with nationwide expansion in mind.

“The idea behind the program here is to infiltrate OSU as far as we can with peers in a non-pressure way,” DeMars said. “The bigger picture is we really want to have teams like this on major campuses across the country.”

Ohio University, Miami (Ohio) and Indiana University are possible candidates for the next Pursuit pop-up suiting shop, though DeMarssaid he is not sure which will be first.

Currently located in the South Campus Gateway at 1572 N. High St., the Pursuit team consists of about 20 people, including six student interns and nine campus ambassadors.

The interns don’t get course credit for their positions, but that might change by the spring. The interns have specific roles, while the ambassadors position is similar to a brand spokesman.

“(The ambassadors’) role is to spread awareness of the Pursuit story among their peers, plan events that engage Pursuit in the campus life and provide insights, as part of our core customer demographic, as to how we can grow the company,”DeMars said.

Jake Mendel, Pursuit’s director of development and a second-year in finance, said the ambassadors are “essentially our boots on the ground and our faces in every classroom.”

“Their job is to look good and say, ‘Hey man, you need a suit? If you want to look like this, come check out Pursuit,’” Mendel said.

The program is a way to formalize what loyal supporters were doing already; bringing in friends and promoting the brand within their social groups, DeMars said.

With a primary customer base of college-aged young professionals, the use of social media has been a key element in developing the brand.

“Social media has been an easy way for us (to) jump-start the ambassador program. retweeting Pursuit, tagging a picture on Instagram or sharing on Facebook,” said Nimi Krukrubo, a Pursuit ambassador and a fourth-year in accounting.

Roger Juang, second-year in logistics and operations management, found out about Pursuit through Facebook photos of Pursuit-sponsored T-shirts for the senior bar crawl in 2011.

“There’s not a huge budget for marketing, but social media is utilized very well,” Juang said, now an operations intern and ambassador for Pursuit.

In honor of its first anniversary, Pursuit will be holding a sale until the end of October. The sale percentage will be based on shares and retweets of its video “Pursuit: Suiting the Next Generation.”

The video received 115 shares and retweets during the first 48 hours of its release, which DeMars said means the store’s best-selling suit will be $115 off next week.

The price range for normal suits is $199 to $399, and available brands include popular brands like DKNY and Calvin Klein and lesser-known brands like DiBi. They also sell sunglasses and some Homage apparel.

From the company’s beginnings, DeMars set out to build a brand that would set itself apart from the stereotypical suiting experience.

“Traditional suit stores are either really generic and boring or they’re super uppity and pretentious,” DeMars said. “College guys can’t afford that stuff, so our goal was to be more relevant and cool.”

DeMars said despite Pursuit’s boutique appearance, the products it sells are not overly expensive and cater to a college students’ needs.

“You don’t need to be the most fashionable to look good. Most guys coming in are buying a suit for a job interview or a fraternity formal,” DeMars said.

While being style-savvy is not a Pursuit shopper requirement, DeMars gives credit to ambassadors’ ability to advise onmenswear trends.

Jordan Wright, retail development coordinator and a third-year in strategic communication, agreed that Pursuit’s atmosphere includes a great deal of peer advice.

“It’s like a manly game of dress-up,” Wright said.

For many members of the Pursuit team, customer interaction is the highlight of the working day.

“The most rewarding thing is when you get the guy who doesn’t know what he needs or has gone through the traditional suiting process and is wearing something like a box, or borrowed from his dad. Then you measure him, throw some things on and when they look in the mirror for the first time, their eyes light up and you know right there. It’s like (the TLC television show) ‘Say Yes to the Dress,’ it’s the one,” Mendel said.

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