The Luxury Of Exclusivity- Killion
Author: Tana Smith
Design. Quality. Price. Exclusivity.
4 words for the foundation of a brand that demonstrates competitive advantage the right way. If you haven’t heard of Killion yet, you better catch up. A “modern menswear line” specializing in quality over price, Killion is the next brand up to become a household name. It’s only a matter of time.
If you’ve followed Killion for the past couple years you know to trust their due diligence to get to that social tier. The brand treads lightly while capitalizing on what they do really well: quality apparel for a low price; letting the product drive success, retention, profit, etc. The mandated plain product designs on various materials touches the customer need in every demographic…because think about it, who doesn’t need plain apparel with different fittings in their closet.
Since late 2015 I’ve been rocking Killion. I remember my roommate in college put me on; I was skeptical at first until his first few shipments started coming to our apartment. The quality aligned with the likes of John Elliott or Calvin Klein, making the initial view of Killion attractive. Then I asked how much his 3 plain scoop t-shirts and 1 overlounger costs. “Around $50.”
“Excuse me?” I thought. You mean to tell me this low key brand (at the time) is selling the same, if not better, quality t-shirts as John Elliott for 1/3 or 1/4 of the price? In my head I even played around with the idea that their quality surpassed John Elliott, Kith, and Supreme by a long shot (but that’s a discussion we can have offline).
For the next few years my roommate and I would strictly order shirts online while keeping up on the latest collections about to drop.
The standard issue 3-pack essential was my first cop that I realized this brand was for real. 3 shirts for $30. I literally wear them and layer them with almost every fit (especially with another Killion item, such as a bomber or a flannel). For a brief time we felt we knew a secret that only us and a few thousand knew, almost like we were cheating the system of the industry. No way could this brand stay like this for long, we thought…and we were right.
As the next few months started moving along and the calendar years started to flip over Killion slowly, but surely, gained pipeline across the country. More products started to roll out, physical shops started to expand to NY, LA, Seattle, and Las Vegas, their mystery box became a thing, and meanwhile the exclusiveness still was an evident aura. From a customer stand-point I knew very little about the president, creative team, staff, or any of the great minds behind the madness. The reason why I bring this up is because of their presence on social media and the positive messaging they provide to their audience, and how inspiring it all is regardless of business or industry type. They deserve the recognition…but I’m sure they receive enough gratification through their product and how it influences people like myself.
I had to get a feel for what the team was about, so I went to their Las Vegas location a few weeks ago to check it out. Located in the China Town Plaza, the Killion shop gave me chills to finally walk into one of their physical locations. With a small, simple, and intimate interior design, I was able to fully utilize my time as I was the only customer on that Tuesday afternoon. Here’s a few photos of my view:
As I established my presence I couldn’t help but notice the LIT playlist they had for the shop. From Future and Drake to Naughty By Nature and 2Pac, the tone was definitely set to make my shopping experience that much better. I thought that the playlist was a perfect segue to start a conversation about the brand so I made my way over to the only other person/employee in there with me.
I met Jalen (apologies if spelled incorrectly), an early 20’s cashier/store employee from Seattle, WA in hopes to start his own creative art. We started this beyond insightful conversation as I began bringing up questions about the brand direction. He told me that he just recently started fucking with Killion in late 2015/early 2016 because his friend used to rock it while they both worked at a consignment shop down the street. Come February 2016 that same friend offered him an opportunity to join the Killion team as they were looking for hires for the Vegas shop. What intrigued me was his on-boarding experience. Given what seemed to be his ignorance about the brand, the Killion team apparently traveled Jalen to each of their stores across the country to get a better feel for who they are and to feel connected as one big team nationwide. He told me that each store had it’s own flavor by design. For each location, the layout, square footage, and interior design were all catered to the city they were in. He explained to me how the Seattle shop had a subtle layout that was hard to explain but incorporated the trees and weather well, or how the NY shop was even smaller and more intimate than the Vegas shop by design to get that NY feel. Although vague stories, I could tell that the passion was there at this worker level and that alone was what spoke to me. What was most inspiring was how Killion takes care of their team. It’s not every day you run into a brand that would travel their front line managers like that, either. Just more reason to find inspiration through Killion.
The come up ended up being real that day, but regardless of what I walked out of the store with, it was the insight that left a lasting impression and reassured my stance on Killion. You quickly learn that they take the concept of WIFM and cost leadership and run with it, turning it into a lovable brand for all walks of life. As Michael Porter put it, “Strategy is about setting yourself apart from the competition. It’s not a matter of being better at what you do – it’s a matter of being different at what you do.”
Hats off to Killion for the influence and infectious presence.
- Kicks to wear while shopping at a Killion store: Something simple like a pair of All White Ultra-boosts
- What should be my first purchase from Killion be?: Definitely a plain white or black T to rock with anything
- Favorite Killion piece: SI-12 Essential – Black
- Song to add to the Killion store playlist:
The come up that day:
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*Featured Image Source: https://scontent-amt2-1.cdninstagram.com/t51.2885-15/e35/14473923_648585535309932_4454837034002939904_n.jpg?ig_cache_key=MTM1NjczNzYwMTY5NjM5OTcyMw%3D%3D.2