C-Suite Network™

Playing the Long Game with The Best Damn Dress Shirt

The best damn dress shirt. 

That’s what the online men’s clothing company Mizzen+Main claims.  

I love its audacity, but there’s more to it than a shirt. 

“That’s really kind of the ethos behind the brand is creating a better way for the customer, and we really solidified our ourselves in the market, where we think, we make the best damn dress shirt. That’s something that is just super comfortable gives them the great aesthetic the classic looked at they’re looking for,” Ryan Kent, President of Mizzen+Main, said during a recent interview on “All Business with Jeffrey Hayzlett.”  

Customers are taking notice. The 9-year-old company is known for more than its shirts. They’ve also garnered attention for some of their viral content marketing. 

Mizzen and Main are the two masts on a sailing ship. Ryan says the company sees it as a metaphor for propelling the business forward, using technology and some traditional retail channels. 

If you’ve never heard of Mizzen+Main, you might recognize some of the big-name athletes and celebrities that endorse the brand. For example, golfer Phil Mickelson got plenty of attention a few years ago when he started wearing Mizzen’s dress shirts on the course, turning heads—even spawning a non-traditional TV ad that gathered close to one million views on YouTube. 


TikTok FTW 

Recently, Mizzen+Main launched a TikTok channel. While men’s clothing and a platform known for short dancing videos don’t seem like a natural match, Ryan says the company uses it to show their softer side. 

“Part of our brand is we use the terms lightness and levity frequently,” Ryan said. “Our customers are serious. They’re career-driven, but it doesn’t mean they don’t like to have fun, and it doesn’t mean they don’t like to laugh.” 

He added, “In between those moments of seriousness in their day, TikTok we thought, (was) a platform that we could test to see (if) we create some fun engaging videos just to get our customer to laugh a little bit learn a little bit about the company.” 

Mizzen+Main saw some early success at the beginning of 2021 and then ramped up their efforts during the summer with a series of videos featuring former NFL quarterback and current FOX football analyst Mark Sanchez as “the intern.” 

“As this opportunity with Mark Sanchez came about, we said, ‘Hey, this is a great way to combine both new and emerging platform in general, but definitely for Mizzen and a real and relevant athlete who people know'” Ryan said. “Mark is not playing football anymore. He’s on TV, doing all of his announcing and analysis, and our product is perfect, for what he where he is in his life.” 

While viral TikTok videos make for great publicity, they don’t necessarily translate to more sales. However, Ryan says that’s OK with Mizzen+Main’s leadership. 


We don’t view that as a massive conversion channel. You know you get into the difficulties on the digital front with how do you measure success and really TikTok is not a way that we’re trying to communicate the core value proposition,” Ryan said. “Specifically, trying to figure out how many people exactly come directly from watching the Mark Sanchez TikTok to the website would be nice, but it’s a little bit of how do we engage and create a little bit of awareness, with the brand, with the customer watching those videos.” 


Ryan says Mizzen+Main is playing the long game and going for brand awareness and repetition. 


Then (potential customers) ultimately (are) going to get to the website and get that first shirt,” Ryan said. “Whether they remember that and they’re conscious or subconscious, eventually we think that’s going to convert into a sale.” 


Something Old, Something New 


Another headwind Mizzen+Main found in its sails is effective podcast advertising. About four years ago, Mizzen began advertising on Conan O’Brien’s podcast. Even after not advertising on the show for years, customer surveys showed the podcast introduced many to the brand. So earlier this year, Mizzen began sponsoring Conan’s podcast again, with good results. 


Another way Mizzen is getting known is through traditional brick-and-mortar retail. Although Mizzen+Main has opened a handful of stores, Mizzen has also partnered with mom-and-pop menswear stores to offer its products. 


Overall, we want the company to grow, we want the company to grow across all of our sales channels, primarily in the digital space, but some customers love shopping in the physical space,” Ryan said.  


Mizzen+Main is more than TikTok videos, stores, and celebrity endorsements. They’re also taking their content, as Ryan called it, offline tactics like direct mail. Ryan says Mizzen is in the “initial learning stages” with the offline strategy but is seeing success.  


“It’s really a growth mindset versus potentially a fixed mindset,” Ryan said. “We are a young brand. We want more people to know about Mizzen+Main. We want more people to love Mizzen+Main. There are a lot of customers out there that just don’t know about us.” 

“It’s really just getting the product out there, getting the brand out there, into more people’s hands to love the brand, is really the approach. By no means is it in contrast to a digital growth strategy. It actually helps raise brand awareness which raises all channels.” 


And sell the best damn dress shirt. 


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