R.I.P., Pickwick and Weller; we hardly knew ye. PandoDaily reports that the Los Angeles–based luxury T-shirt label, which featured actor Ashton Kutcher as a “celebrity co-founder” is shuttering its online-only business—the “latest example of a company that found the task of building an online brand more than it bargained for,” according to the Silicon Valley-focused news site. Despite the suggestion that it’s only going on hiatus—“Pickwick & Weller is taking an extended staycation so we can come back with the best T-shirt. Ever,” reads a message on its homepage—CEO and creative director Ryan Donahue confirmed to PandoDaily that this was a “wind down, not a retooling.”
“We had a hard conversation with our board and investors, and we mutually agreed that we gave it a good shot and it’s time to move on,” Donahue told reporter Michael Carney. “We built a good brand and a great product, with loyal customers, but where we really struggled was in unlocking healthy enough customer acquisition to scale it to a point where it made sense. We simply ran out of time and runway.”
The barely two-year-old label’s demise is worth mourning, not just for the loss of its quality-made wardrobe staples, but because American manufacturing is now short one champion. Each Pickwick & Weller piece was sourced and produced in Los Angeles from 100 percent American-grown cotton and Tencel.
Still, it appears that Kutcher’s Hollywood cachet and a name-drop as one of “Oprah’s Favorite Things” weren’t enough to cope with the reality of economies of scale. “The more we looked at the business, the more it looked like a traditional fashion business,” Donahue said. “We still think there’s an opportunity in the boutique T-shirt category, but you would need to finance in a way that allows for slow grow, and that’s really the way Silicon Valley operates.”