Mr. Davis - Not So Basic Basics

Mr. Davis is an online retailer that specializes in elevated basics at an affordable price. Based out of Kansas City, the company sells socks and underwear but is best-known for what they call "The World's Best Undershirt." I have to admit - I was skeptical when I saw that claim on their website... until I received samples in the mail! Made of bamboo, the shirts are soft without being silky and so comfortable you’ll forget you are wearing them. With both one-time purchase and subscription options, buying basics could not be easier. I am already planning on gifting a subscription to my youngest brother who is off to college next year (and will probably skip laundry day more than I care to know!). Founder John McClain was kind enough to answer some questions about the brand and the benefits of calling Kansas City home.

1. Who are the founders and how did the idea for Mr. Davis come to be? Where did the name ‘Mr. Davis’ come from?

Mr. Davis has three partners. All from KC originally, John McClain runs the warehouse and operations in Overland Park. The other two owners manage development (Riley in Denver) and advertising (Jeremy in Little Rock).

The idea of Mr. Davis started in 2011. Jeremy received some bamboo pillow cases as a gift and immediately loved how soft and durable they were. He thought, “Why don’t I wear clothes made of this?”. He called me with the idea and asked for my help...and the rest is history.

We started with one product - a flesh tone colored undershirt for men and put it up on Kickstarter to see how folks reacted. We wanted to raise $10K and ended up raising over $75K. We had the seed money to start our first full production run and launched MrDavis.Com soon after (early 2012).

Mr. Davis is the nickname for one of Jeremy’s children. It kind of works.

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2. Tell me more about the design and production process. What does that look like?

After our initial product launch of our Tailored Cut V-neck undershirt, we let customers drive our design process. We spend a lot of time talking to customers and also receiving unprompted feedback from them about what we can do better and what other products to possibly explore.

To give you an example, for the first two years of business, we received a lot of feedback from guys who didn’t think the Tailored Cut shirt was comfortable for their body type. So we worked with our designer/factory and introduced a Traditional Cut shirt. Giving customers this option has been crucial in the success of our business. We know we can’t be all things to everyone, but we felt like this style option was a no-brainer and it’s worked out.

Underwear is the same story. We received countless emails from customers saying that we should get into underwear. We spent a year crafting the design and launched a few years ago.

Jeremy and I designed the initial undershirt and underwear. We now partner with KC-based designers for all products.

3. You focus on doing the basics well – which I love! What is next in the lineup of products? Would you ever consider doing a women’s line of basics? What does the future of Mr. Davis look like to you?

The big product announcement this year is that we are launching our first women’s collection in March, called Foundation by Mr. Davis! (Be sure to sign up for $10 off here!) I’ve been working on it for about two years. We conducted focus groups to nail down favorite designs and colors and I couldn’t be more excited. Local designer Christina Moncke designed all the pieces. We are starting with assorted basic tops and then hope to offer underwear/bottoms by Christmas 2018.

Our company motto among the owners is “slow and steady wins the race.” That is how we run the business. Be patient and focus on what we do well. We have no plans of expanding out of men’s and women’s basics at this time.

4. What sets Mr. Davis apart from the competition?

I would like to say quality, which ours is really high, but so many companies are making great products these days. Quality isn’t enough to stand out.

Honestly, I think our customer service sets us apart. We love our customers and continue to serve them and be transparent as our company grows. We have a great team in KC taking care of our loyal customers.

Price helps, too. Our business model is direct-to-consumer, so we can offer a garment that is very expensive to produce at a lower retail price point. If we were a traditional wholesaler, our undershirts would price customers out at retail - and that doesn’t interest us.

Comfort and fit. Our undershirts and underwear truly are the most comfortable things you can own. I’m not just saying that because I’m an owner. They’re great! And we really try and listen to our customers to refine fits and fabrics.

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5. What is your favorite thing about owning and operating a business in Kansas City?

Well, as an online retailer and shipper, being located in Kansas City gives us a competitive advantage because transit times are significantly reduced. Our customers receive their orders incredibly fast because of our KC location. Wouldn’t want to be anywhere else!

6. I am going to list a few categories and would love to know your favorites in Kansas City! 

Favorite BBQ place? Oklahoma Joe’s (I know it’s Joe’s Kansas City now, but I will always call it OK Joe’s)

Favorite place to grab a cocktail? Harry’s in Westport or Tom’s Town

Favorite thing to do on the weekend? I’ve got four kids, so just hanging out with them is what I live for on the weekends.

Favorite beer/brewery? Monk & Honey by Torn Label 

Favorite restaurant? Westside Local & Vietnam Cafe (Rivermarket location)

Any other favorite places, people, or events – I would love to hear about them!

My family has been members of the Nelson-Atkins museum for years. Such a special place.

Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts - I can’t believe we have this in our city. Incredible. Just got to see my daughter perform as Clara in The Nutcracker.

7. It seems like Kansas City is in the middle of an economic boom – especially with the focus on supporting small business and entrepreneurs. Where do you see Kansas City in the next five years?

 I would love to see the garment industry have a big comeback. The barriers to entry are massive, but I would love to produce some of our goods locally one day. Rightfully Sewn is doing some great work.