What’s the recipe for the great apparel selection that Orvis offers? It is a combination of experience, research, knowing our customers and gut reaction. The latter was the main ingredient in one of our great success stories - The Presidential Microfiber Shirt. It began with an unassuming pile of shirts in one of the sample rooms. Orvis President Perk Perkins spied the shirt during a line review. “It was just sitting there on the shelf among the stacks of about 200 other sample shirts,” remembered Perk. “But it just seemed to jump out at me.” He was struck by the soft, subtle luster of the fabric.
Perk went over and pulled it out of the stack and inquired, "What about this shirt - why aren't we offering this?” Tom Kerr, Orvis’ Product Development Specialist, was also impressed by the look and feel of the fabric, but had reservations. He explained, "Oh, that's too expensive - it would retail for nearly $100. "And our customers don't like synthetics."
Perk was persistent. "But this isn't synthetic, the label says its made out of wood fiber.” Specifically, the shirt was made of Lyocell. Like rayon, the material is woven of plant fibers and has a natural look and soft drape. Determined, Perk stated, “I think they'll like this...and I think we'll sell so many that you can find a factory to make it for a lot less money. Let me take it home and test it for a while."
Weeks passed while Perk field-tested the new shirt. After one particular trip to Orvis offices in Roanoke, Virginia, he came back with glowing reviews and a strengthened belief in the fabric. “Every time I wore the shirt, people remarked about its good looks,” he told Tom. “Women in particular.” The women’s reaction really sold Perk. He liked the feel of it so much that it quickly became one of his favorite shirts.
The shirt was great for travel, packed flat and came out of the wash looking crisp and neat. The soft feel was comfortable alone and under jackets.
With the go ahead from Perk, Tom and his team brought the Presidential Microfiber Shirt to the Orvis customers at the best possible price. And it has been an enormous success - it's one of the most popular shirts we have ever sold. As a result, we've added more designs to our Presidential Microfiber Shirt line.