When TJ Callaway, founder and owner of apparel brand and retailer Onward Reserve, introduced the company’s Five Pocket Stretch Pant in Fall 2016, he really didn’t imagine that they would end up outselling all the other pants in the company’s lineup, five to one. Initially only offered in two colors, the line now includes seven different colors and boasts a menagerie of repeat customers.
“This is the type of item where someone will come and buy one pair and come back three weeks later and buy three to four more pairs,” TJ says. “These have been a home run for us so far. They just fit so great. I wear them literally every day.”
What is the secret ingredient that makes these pants the top seller? TJ says it’s a perfect mix of comfort, style, and versatility with just the right amount of stretch thrown in. “First and foremost, these pants are super comfortable,” he says. “But they are great because you can wear them with a golf shirt or a sport coat and tie.”
TJ says the secret to the pants having such a great fit for a wide array of body types is the stretch in the fabric, which works on a more athletic build as well as someone with a skinnier leg. But achieving the perfect fit wasn’t something that happened overnight. TJ’s employees, who represent many different sizes, became his real-life test models.
“We want all of our pants to fit consistently enough that you will wear the same size in other pants we have,” he says. “We have worked a long time to get the fit just right. We had literally everyone in our office try them on to make sure we had the most versatile fit possible. Guys of all shapes and sizes fell in love with these pants.”
He adds that with the nice sateen combed cotton, the pants look like a great old pair of chinos, but with a better fit and feel than your old favorites. “We have a great chino as well, and we still sell jeans, but these five-pocket pants outsell our jeans 10 to 1,” he says proudly. “We had another pant before this one that we don’t make anymore because I never wore it. I didn’t particularly care for it. I don’t wear these because I have to — they’re all I wear, by choice.”
TJ says the word-of-mouth alone on the Five Pocket Stretch Pant has been enough to prove that the company is doing something right. “We have customers who realize we really do make products that last,” he shares.
Unlike many large apparel companies owned by massive financial investors, TJ says Onward Reserve is privately held and focuses on building a long-term, customer-focused brand that isn’t interested in cutting corners to increase revenue in the short term. “I own the vast majority of the company. I really like my job, and I’m not looking to sell the company,” he says. “I’d rather stay focused on long-term value creation.”
Building on the heels of the success of his original Five Pocket Stretch Pants, in 2020, Onward Reserve will offer a slightly updated version that will add performance qualities to the pant. “The only difference will be that it will have some moisture-wicking properties like our performance button-downs have. In August in Atlanta when it’s 100 degrees outside, the performance five-pocket pants will feel a little cooler than the ones we have now. It will be a slightly lighter, crisper version to offer even more comfort in the summertime.”
Learn more about Onward Reserve’s best-selling Five Pocket Stretch Pants and purchase a pair, in a vast selection of colors, for $145, here.
This article is sponsored by Onward Reserve.