Retail and Small Business & Startups

Men's fashion startup styles downtown

October 2, 2013
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Men's fashion startup styles downtown
Style53 founder Will Payne in front of the camera during a video shoot. Photo via

An online men’s fashion reseller has popped up at ArtPrize with Armani at its side.

53-percent charity

Style53, a high-end men’s clothing and accessories startup, has operated a pop-up store in downtown Grand Rapids during ArtPrize, at 53 Monroe Center NW.

The fashion ecommerce site set up the pop-up shop to spread awareness and attract downtown foot traffic, said Style53 founder Will Payne.

Style53 takes donated clothing and re-sells it, donating 53 percent of the proceeds to charities.

“This is just for Art Prize,” Payne said. “I don’t see myself having a store, but it could morph into that. I see myself being an online retailer, because the costs are lower, and with our model, we need to be very lean.”

The website carries designer brands like Armani, Hugo Boss, Zegna, Canali, Isaia, Rag and Bone and Etro.

Style53 also offers free shipping and free returns, so customers can try clothes out.

Downtown fulfillment

Normally, Payne works out of an office in the Windquest building downtown, where he also stores all the donated clothes and takes photos.

Payne has one employee, and his biggest challenge is supply.

Most of the clothes are donated by locals, Payne said. If a donor’s garment sells, their 53 percent of the check goes to charity, and they receive a tax receipt for the amount. 


Over half of the money Style53 receives goes to supporting nonprofits like Kid’s Food Basket, ARC Surf Camp, Billy Bear Hug Foundation, Stockbridge Boiler Room and Read Asia.

“We’re dependent on donors,” Payne said. “If there’s a month where no one donates, we don’t get any new clothes. That’s part of the reason we don’t always put them up on the lineup all at once, because we need control for the back end.”


Payne got the idea for his business, which is similar to Plato’s Closest, months ago when he was a senior studying business at Hope College.

After graduating, he received an investment from his parents and launched Style53 this summer.

“I want this to be a national clothing option for men,” Payne said. “Our one-year goal is to donate $50,000 to charity. The cool thing is that as we grow, that number grows, so we can keep helping charity and keep guys looking good in high-end fashion.” 

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