Almost everyday I see some new startup on social media claiming to be disrupting the watch or clothing industry. I won’t name any names but there’s this watch one that keeps coming up so I click on it and sure enough it’s some fashion watch startup with a cheap quartz movement. I’d hate to be the naysayer but you ain’t disrupting shit.

I can’t imagine any watch enthusiast abandoning their collection of mechanical art pieces for this crap. And if I wanted a cheap fashion watch that was “excellent” quality I have many other brands to choose from. The reality is that these are completely different markets and “disruption” is just a nice buzzword to use but a distortion of the truth. True disruption is making a product that can actually stand up to the competition in the same class.

To make a mechanical watch is bloody difficult. To break into the industry is bloody difficult. Take Nomos for example. They actually build their own watch movements and put it in a unique looking exterior and at a price that puts many Swiss brands to shame. Few companies can claim to do that. Take 3sixteen as another example… They basically started from nothing and convinced a Japanese denim mill to make selvedge denim for them. That is true disruption.

That’s not to say the watch industry isn’t overpriced or some clothing brands don’t attract a huge markup. They are and they do. But anyone can come along and claim to be the next best thing. But you have to look past the marketing. The difference between the wheat and the chaff is the design, quality and how passionate and invested the people involved really are. I read a post on Putthison yesterday about Cobbler Union. They make ready-to-wear Goodyear welted shoes for about $400 US. “But that’s not cheap!” I hear you say. The difference is that these shoes are made with many details only seen in bespoke shoes like channeled stitching on the soles and fiddle back waists so they are cheap for what they offer. You can’t set unrealistic goals like “I”ll make a pair of Goodyear welted shoes, because Goodyear welt is an awesome catchphrase, of excellent quality and ship the production offshore so it”ll only cost $100” and expect it to be good. Corners are going to be cut somewhere.
So next time you see some new “disruption”, take it with a giant grain of salt.

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