You may not know Grover—but you should. Grover isn’t a man or a puppet but is the guise for a little menswear label operating from the Arts District. He comes from successful surf brand Wellen and has been around for a few years yet is still relatively unknown, even to locals. If you’ve been in Westwood’s Clark & Madison or American Rag, you may have seen him. Otherwise, he’s been very much under the radar.
Now he’s ready for you to pay attention to him. The brand is currently being carried in a handful of stores and has been growing a clever clothing subscription service. They’ve very recently launched a web shop, too. Grover is all about men’s basics done in a light, non-fussy way: it makes sense that he’s been doing his own thing, unnoticed for quite some time.
“Grover has always been a side gig,” brand founder Matthew Jung explains from the Grover drafting table. “We just want to make things that we want to wear. I only wear plain t-shirts and I don’t want to wear someone else’s brand. We’ve been keeping it tight and are seeing where the brand goes. We’re pushing wholesale and just launched an online store, which means we can sell direct. Before this, you really couldn’t get Grover anywhere.”
Matt started the brand with James Hammonds, the menswear buyer for American Rag. Although Hammonds is no longer involved, he helped to spark the concept for the brand. “The thesis of Grover comes from me doing a window display at American Rag for Wellen, which at the time was just me,” Matt explains. “James and I got to talking and I was shocked he had never started a brand. He wanted to do a basics brand that only sold a specific set of colors because he’s never been able to get those colors.”
The brand started with a strict guideline to make specific colors and styles and to not overcomplicate what they have. If you stick with what you are good at, successes will find you. That’s how Grover has found their success and why its no surprise that they almost immediately found their way into American Rag.
“It sold so well that there wasn’t even a conflict,” Matt says. “Even after James left the brand, American Rag continues to buy us.”
A big part of the success is also owed to the brand’s boxers, which are described as being “designed as a joke.” The style of underwear is distinctly a nineties concept and are typically baggy and anything but tailored. Most people believe the wears come in embarrassing patterns and appear to only exist for the sake of intimate novelty. Thus, Matt and his team sought to create a boxer for the contemporary man.
“We wanted to do a really nice boxer,” Grover Marketing Director Taylor Gramkow explains. “J.Crew makes nice boxers but they can be baggy and big.”
“We wanted them to be as nice as theirs but with a better fit,” Matt echoes.
“It doesn’t really seem like there is anyone else making super plain, basic, made-in-these-hues boxers,” Taylor says. “It has an appeal. People have been looking for this. It’s really helped expose us to other brands. It rode in like a knight in shining armor for the brand.”
“The brand is so minimal too,” Matt explains, describing how they’ve been operating Grover. “We describe it as an egg that we toss very short distances because we don’t want to break it. We don’t want to mess the brand up with anything. We want to do capsule collections like Grover Goes On Vacation and Grover Goes To The Gym. It’s a great idea but we have to get retailers to buy into it.”
“We’re not sold in a single store in San Francisco or New York City because we can’t get any of the brands to respond to us,” Matt continues. This is surprising given the success of Wellen: you would think Grover would be able to walk into any store it wanted. To the contrary, there have only been little bites.
“People who get to touch and feel and see Grover get excited about it,” Taylor notes. “It’s a good product. I think that’s why we’re slowly growing, especially in LA. We’re under the radar and people like to discover things on their own terms. We’ve gotten a lot of authentic advocacy.”
“There’s a lot of potential here,” he adds. “We want to grow in the right ways not the fast ways.”
Matt agrees, adding some insight into why they’ve been a little “slow” in expanding and pushing the brand. “People ruin brands when they rush to make money. You just work and sell so you are not in the negative: that is how you start making bad decisions. We’ve been lucky having Wellen which has been successful for years. We have a really good foundation that let’s us make smart, sound decisions that will pay off in five years instead of today. We’ve been able to let Grover slowly exist because Wellen is a little bit ahead. We’ve had those issues of selling fast and because we needed to with Wellen: we’re just going to let Grover go. Let’s not try to blow the walls out just yet. That’s why not too many people know about us.”
That’s why Grover works. That’s why they’ve been able to focus on something like boxers, perfecting and finessing a little but important wardrobe staple. They’ve also been testing out new ideas through their unique subscription service Grover & Friends that sends out a few new, one-of-a-kind wears along with a complimentary item from an LA maker like PF Candle Co..
“Grover & Friends is a good way to get people to experience the brand,” Taylor says. “You can try this shirt or this pant and find that you really believe in it—and that you really want more. It helps us identify what people like. Because we don’t have a big retail model, the subscriptions help us change and realize what we need to design. This is our way to get consumer feedback without buyers. We’ve been able to educate ourselves through Grover & Friends.”
The time is right for Grover. Matt and Taylor and the Grover team are prepared to go big and take the brand to the next level by way of a natural evolution. As it has been going for the past few years, the brand is finding itself and finding it’s shopper. Through smart growth, Wellen and Grover will be able to do a lot more. “We want to keep growing and create new companies,” Matt says. “For example, were making a women’s side of Wellen. That is crazy because it’s been seven years in the making.”
“People have been waiting,” Matt says with a smile.