Although the average man stands at about 5 ft., 9 in., clothes for short men is inaccessible – men’s clothing is often designed for someone taller. Not always on the model-esque end of the spectrum, but someone who stands at 5 ft., 10 in., if not a solid 6 ft.
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Especially if you’re a shorter guy – under 5 ft., 8 in., more specifically – shopping and then dressing well prove to be a challenge. Pieces even for shorter guys feel too wide or hang too low, and much of it, to be frank, never seems designed for your proportions.
Thinking about the conundrum short men experience, Elie Robinson founded the menswear brand Under510 in 2018. The title, essentially, says it all: While taller guys have their pick of brands, shorter men often get ignored. You’re left fighting over the remaining smalls, or finding out the medium shirt falls down mid-thigh.
Pants, too, leave you out entirely, and you end up having to camouflage the extended length with a discreetly crafted cuff roll or pay the tailor to hem them a bit.
The Decision to Cater to Short Men
Today, Under510 handles a range of men who might not fit the typical brick-and-mortar demographic: shorter guys of all body types who can’t reliably find their size, as well as transgender men and women. And, on this last note, while specialty retailers catering to these demographics exist, consumers are often left paying exorbitant prices, even for wardrobe basics like jeans and button-downs.
Under510’s story is ultimately Robinson’s. After going through 15 mall stores and hundreds of garments, he left yet again without anything that fit him properly. In doing some research he discovered that brands, regardless of size, cater to the average American male. Quite simply well-fitting clothes for short men were a rare find.
Someone who stands at 5 ft., 10 in. Robinson himself is 5 ft., 7 in., and being outside of the average range meant dealing with shirts that had too-long arms, too-wide collars, and a bigger fit than he wanted. In asking around, Robinson found that other shorter men experienced this issue, or they’d have to have custom or tailored clothing made for them.
“Under 510 came out of my need to find clothing that fits,” he tells us in an interview. “I was sick and tired of walking in and out of stores and not being able to buy anything off the rack. Anything I did settle for had to be tapered and shortened.”
With thirty years in eCommerce under his belt, Robinson put together a Kickstarter campaign for Under510, and the brand officially launched in 2018. Nevertheless, even with a thriving online store and two brick-and-mortar locations, Robinson doesn’t consider Under510 to be a designer in the traditional sense.
Rather, he views the company as a problem-solver. “Most shorter men have either given up on finding clothing off the rack that fits, settled for ill-fitting clothes or are purchasing and tailoring,” he says. “We consider ourselves the solution.”
How Under510 Helps Shorter Men Dress Well
Even at specialty shops, clothing for shorter – and even taller – guys gets boring – as if you’re supposed to be glad they’re carrying anything in your size at all. This isn’t the case at Under510, and shorter men here have their pick of high-quality, slimmer-fitting basics that meet smart casual and business casual guidelines but have the right flair and vibe for happy hour or the weekend.
“We want to make clothes for shorter men that are exciting and NOT just smaller clothes,” he emphasizes. “We have to make sure all of the elements of the garment are proportional, so that the garment enhances the appearance of the person rather than just cover their body with fabric.”
Just like cisgender men, transgender men go through a similar situation. That’s why Under510 also caters to this particular demographic who, beyond sizing, might not even receive help or be acknowledged at a traditional menswear retailer. “I would say the sizing and fit are the biggest problems we’ve heard about from [transgender] customers,” Robinson explains. “We’ve had Trans men buy our clothing, as they mention that they can’t find shirts pants that fit them properly. The clothing is either too long or too baggy.”
What’s different about a shirt you find at Under510? For one, the proportions are scaled down – rather than simply shortened – so the wearer can tuck it in or wear it out, without having to work around an oversized fit. Pants, too, are designed with a similar outlook: With a slimmer, tapered fit and lower rise, men who find a thirty-inch inseam too large can select a pair within to twenty-six to the twenty-nine-inch range.
While customers can buy garments online, those in Long Island and Brooklyn can also shop in person. There, employees are ready to take your measurements to help you find your exact size.
“Our stores provide a concierge-style shopping experience to guide our customers through the unique sizes they have never seen before,” Robinson tells us about shopping at one of the brand’s retail outlets. “Our stores are meant to provide an easy and relaxed experience. We also like to have fun with our height, having dressing rooms that are 5 feet 10 inches tall.”
As far as his own suggestions are concerned, Robinson offers a few tips for styling clothes for short guys wanting to dress well: “Wearing clothes that are made properly for our bodies makes us look put together, taller, and skinnier. Fit matters. Don’t compromise and never settle.”
Plans to Change Clothes for Short Men
Under510’s gaining so much momentum that even taller men are requesting its styles. To accommodate some of these customers, the brand recently added larger waist sizes – up to 40 in. – on some pairs of jeans.
This change, though, is just the start. Robinson envisions opening Under510 stores in malls across the country, ensuring shorter men have options that go beyond shopping online.
Additionally, while the current selection covers plenty of everyday staples, suiting is not too far off on the horizon. “The response to our dress pants has been overwhelming,” Robinson explains. “With so many requests, we are finishing our prototypes for the matching jacket to complete the suit.”