Bonobos (apparel)

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Bonobos logo.png
Type Private
Industry Retail, Apparel, E-Commerce
Founder(s) Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly
Founded 2007
Headquarters New York City
Number of locations 11 (as of January 2015)

Bonobos is an e-commerce-driven apparel company headquartered in New York City that designs and sells men’s clothing. Bonobos offers a full line of pants, suits, denim, shirts, shorts, swim and outerwear. The company was founded by Stanford Business School housemates Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly, and launched exclusively online in 2007. In 2012, Bonobos' business model extended offline with the launch of their e-commerce stores called “Guideshops”[1] and through a partnership with Nordstrom.

Bonobos was named “One of America’s Hottest Brands” by Advertising Age,[2] “Best Men’s Pants” by New York Magazine,[3] one of Inc. Magazine’s “20 Awesome Facebook Pages”,[4] and was awarded Crain’s New York Business “Best Places to Work in New York City”.[5]


The firm was founded by Brian Spaly who began designing men’s pants while at Stanford Business School. They featured a curved waistband, a medium rise and a tailored thigh that fit better and eliminated “khaki diaper butt.”[6] As demand grew, he and housemate Andy Dunn[7] decided to pursue the project as a business opportunity.

They launched the brand exclusively online.[8][9] Dunn cashed in his 401K to build and raised an angel round of investment. Initial investors included now Wealthfront CEO and former venture capitalist, Andy Rachleff, and JetBlue Chairman and founding Bonobos board member Joel Peterson, both of whom had lectured Dunn at Stanford Business School. Dunn then moved to New York City with 400 pairs of pants that he picked, packed and shipped from his Union Square apartment.[10] Within six months, the firm grew to five employees and a $1 million net revenue run rate. In the first three years, the company received over $7 million in funding from angel investors. In 2009, Spaly moved on to another venture, running the Chicago-based fashion commerce company Trunk Club.

In 2010, the company received its first institutionally-driven financing round, raising $18.5 million from Accel Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. As part of the round, Accel Partners’ Sameer Gandhi and Lightspeed Venture Partners’ Jeremy Liew joined Bonobos’ board.[11]

As Bonobos expanded its assortment to include suits, dress shirts, outerwear and tailored pieces, more customers requested the opportunity to “try before they buy”. In fall 2011, the company tested an e-commerce store at their New York City headquarters, called The Guideshop.[12] The purpose of the Guideshop was to provide a physical space for men to try on Bonobos prior to e-commerce transactions being placed. Within a year, the concept became an integral part of the firm's service and business model.[13]

In 2012, Bonobos closed a $16.4 million strategic minority investment round led by Nordstrom,[14] with participation from existing investors. In tandem, Bonobos partnered with Nordstrom[15] to sell the brand’s clothing in their full-line stores and their website. Bonobos furthered its offline reach in May 2012, opening its first standalone Guideshop in Boston.[16] By January 2013, Bonobos had opened additional Guideshops in Chicago,[17] Georgetown[18] and San Francisco.[19]

Bonobos announced a $30 million round in 2013, with Glynn Capital and Mousse Partners joining existing investors Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Forerunner Ventures and Nordstrom. At this time, Forerunner’s Managing Partner Kirsten Green joined the Bonobos board and total funding to date reached nearly $73 million.[20] Simultaneously, the company launched the golf brand Maide,[21] which is the second brand launched by the Bonobos team. By August 2013, Bonobos had opened Guideshops on Crosby Street[22] in New York City, Bethesda, MD,[23] and Austin, TX,[24] bringing Guideshop total count to eight. By August 2013 employee headcount reached 175.

Bonobos Ninjas[edit]

Bonobos ninjas are customer service representatives tasked with providing quality customer service for the company’s e-commerce site.[25] Dunn conceptualized the name to attract college-educated qualified candidates to the job and to emphasize Bonobos’ desire to provide great customer service.[8] Bonobos ninjas interact with customers through phone, email and social media.


The Bonobos Guideshop is an e-commerce store for men to shop the brand in person. Guideshops display the brand’s full offering of merchandise, with sizing samples available across categories for men to try on. Customers work individually with a Bonobos “Guide” who serves as a shopping and styling assistant. After each appointment, Guideshop visitors receive an email with their fit and style preferences. Customers can also purchase on-site at the Guideshop through the website. Bonobos Guideshops are located in Manhattans' Flatiron and SoHo districts, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Bethesda, Washington, D.C., Austin and Dallas and have been covered nationally and locally in The New York Times,[26] USA Today,[12] CNBC, WABC-TV,[27] Crain’s New York Business,[28] The Boston Globe,[29] Chicago Sun Times,[30] San Francisco Chronicle,[31] among others.

Plans for a third New York City Guideshop location were announced in February 2014. The new location will be in the new Brookfield Place (former World Financial Center) development in lower Manhattan.[32]


Bonobos designs, markets and sells multiple categories of men’s apparel for casual, business and formalwear occasions. Bonobos launched with pants and carries a wide selection of styles and fabrications such as denim, washed chino, wool, and corduroy. Today Bonobos’ categories include pants along with casual and dress shirts, suits and blazers, tees, knits, polos, outerwear, shorts, swim, ties, pocket squares and belts.


In early 2012, Bonobos opened a West Coast office to build a Silicon Valley-based technology team.[33] After a year and half, Dunn realized that communication and efficiency would improve by eliminating bi-costal offices. In 2013 Bonobos, moved the technology arm to the New York City headquarters.[34]


  1. ^ Clifford, Stephanie (18 December 2012). "Once Proudly Web Only, Shopping Sites Hang Out Real Shingles". The New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  2. ^ Kinsey, Matt. "Bonobos: an America's Hottest Brands Case Study". Advertising Age. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  3. ^ "Best Men’s Pants". New York Magazine. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  4. ^ "20 Awesome Facebook Fan Pages". Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  5. ^ "Best Places to Work". Crain's New York. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  6. ^ Machan, Dyan (November 2008). "By the Seat of Their Pants". SmartMoney. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  7. ^ "Crain's 40 Under Forty". Crain's New York. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  8. ^ a b "Help Wanted: Only Ninjas Need Apply: Bonobos". NYER. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  9. ^ "Roommates Start a Pants Company". The Today Show (NBC). Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  10. ^ "Bonobos CEO: Men are not 'boxy'". Bloomberg TV. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  11. ^ Wei, William. "The Story Of Bonobos: Turning Good-Looking Pants Into A $15 Million Company In Three Years". Business Insider. Retrieved 18 July 2013. 
  12. ^ a b St.John, Oliver (12 March 2013). "Bonobos opens stores that don't sell anything". USA Today. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  13. ^ "Bonobos Guideshop- San Francisco". Yelp. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  14. ^ Rusli, Evelyn (11 April 2012). "Stores Go Online to Find a Perfect Fit". New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  15. ^ "Bonobos and Nordstrom Announce Partnership: Customer Centric E-tailer Moves Offline with Retail Service Pioneer". PR Newswire. 12 April 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  16. ^ Abelson, Jenn (6 October 2012). "Clothing stores court men with free beer, big-screen TVs". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  17. ^ Hatch, Jared. "Andy Dunn Opens Permanent Bonobos Guideshop on Armitage". Racked. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  18. ^ Moroz Alpert, Yelena (27 March 2013). "Wedding Style: Don’t Forget the Men". Washtingtonian. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  19. ^ Durbin, Samantha (30 January 2013). "Bonobos' San Francisco Guideshop Now Open For Personal Shopping Business". 7x7 San Francisco. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Lacy, Sarah. "Nice pants: Bonobos raises $30m off of strong growth and Nordstrom deal". PandoDaily. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  21. ^ Auclair, T.J. "Bonobos launches Maide Golf, a hip, new apparel line". PGA. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  22. ^ Berlinger, Max (15 May 2013). "SHOP ONLINE RETAILER BONOBOS IRL IN NYC". Esquire Magazine. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  23. ^ Kraut, Aaron. "Bonobos Opening July 20 On Bethesda Row". Bethesda Now. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  24. ^ Calnan, Christopher (Jul 26, 2013). "Bonobos going 'clicks to bricks' in Austin". Austin Business Journal. Retrieved 2 August 2013. 
  25. ^ Olles, Rebecca (November 27, 2011). "Gotham Gigs: Bonobos' head 'ninja' is a master of service". Crain's New York. Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  26. ^ Clifford, Stephanie (18 December 2012). "Once Proudly Web Only, Shopping Sites Hang Out Real Shingles". New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  27. ^ "When online stores go brick and mortar". WABC-TV. 27 November 2012. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  28. ^ Pasquarelli, Adrianne (3 June 2012). "E-tailer becomes retailer". Crain's New York. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  29. ^ Muther, Christopher (24 May 2012). "New era of better-fitting men’s clothes in Boston". The Boston Globe. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  30. ^ Each, Molly (30 Oct 2012). "MEN’S SHOPPING MADE EASY". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  31. ^ Sanders, Lorraine (1 Oct 2012). "Bonobos Guideshop". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 19 July 2013. 
  32. ^
  33. ^ Biggs, John. "Clothing Brand Bonobos Snags Netflix Director Of Engineering". Retrieved 29 July 2013. 
  34. ^ Crook, Jordan. "Bonobos’ SF Engineers Split Between NY Relocation And New Company Led By CTO Mike Hart". Retrieved 29 July 2013.