Fashion for Good – umano

fashion for goodJonathan and Alex Torrey hope the Sharks bite into umano, their company that uses fashion for good. The two designer/brothers are trying to create a fashion brand with (the always lower case) umano. Umano means “humanity” in Italian, and these guys have a lot of it.

They sell tee shirts that kids design, then they use part of their profits to buy backpacks filled with art supplies for kids in need. They want art to be a part of children's' lives and they're doing something about it. They got their concept off the ground with a Kickstarter campaign that raised over $30,000. Since then, they've given away over ten thousand backpacks.

The shirts are made from birch wood fiber and are supposedly extremely soft. They're adorned with various doodles done by children (like the picture above).

My Take on Fashion for Good

I like what umano is doing. Making kids lives better is admirable work and I think their hearts and humanity are in the right place. That said, $48 for a tee-shirt is a bit steep for me. I don't know how people can justify spending that kind of cash for a tee-shirt – other than knowing the money is going to a good cause. Is that how to sustain a brand?

I MIGHT buy one because I believe in what Jonathan and Alex are doing, but I would only buy one and I probably wouldn't buy another (unless my kids designed it). With companies like Tee-Spring, Represent, and others making platforms available to sell tee shirts to raise money for a good cause, I just can't see sustaining a brand with tee shirts.

In the press release photo of their pitch, there's a display that shows women's clothing – skirts, dresses etc. If the umano guys are looking to springboard to other lines using the tee shirts as a starting point, they may be on to something, but if they stick to what they're doing now, they're just another over-priced, hipster tee-shirt company. Unless they show me expanded fashions during their pitch, I am OUT.

Do Sharks Tee Up?

This is going to be a tough sell for Jonathan and Alex. Tee shirts have not fared well in the Shark Tank in the past. To put it in the words of Mr. Wonderful: “There's nothing proprietary here.” Kevin will be the first Shark who goes out. Robert and Mark will soon follow. Tee shirts aren't in Lori's wheel house, so she'll be out too.

That leaves Daymond, the “fashion branding expert.” If the guys show they plan to go beyond tee-shirts, he might be interested, but he'll want a big piece of the pie. Probably too big for umano. I'm predicting no deal.

About Rob Merlino

Entrepreneur, auteur, raconteur. Rob Merlino is a blogger and writer who enjoys the Shark Tank TV show and Hot Dogs. A father of five who freelances in a variety of publications, Rob has a stable of websites including Shark Tank Blog, Hot Dog Stories, Rob Merlino.com and more.

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