We talked to the RompHim founders about designing their male-friendly romper.
Yesterday, the Internet went bonkers for a Kickstarter project hocking rompers for dudes. The RompHim, which is currently dividing Americans in debate, has already surpassed its Kickstarter goal nearly seven times over (at the time this article was published they had made over $68,000 dollars in less than two days). That’s a lot of cash for something that looks a lot like an adult onesie. You may not be that surprised to learn that the four co-founders behind the RompHim have yet to graduate business school, and that this project began as an independent study project.
They’re now finishing up a course in “new venture development” which is “focused on helping startups build their brands and properly launch a product.” Or whatever. We’re pretty sure they’ll pass, but can the foursome make male rompers something more than just a flash in the pan? Or is this something you’re bound to receive from your bro-y cousin as a joke gift? One thing’s for sure: the RompHim’s wild popularity is evidence that the American man’s thirst for comfortable clothing and convenience may never be quenched. To answer our many questions and calm our nerves, we spoke to two of the four cofounders, Daniel Webster Clark and Elaine Chen, from their headquarters at Northwestern University about their viral success and how they made rompers man friendly.
GQ: I see you’re calling from a number at Northwestern University. Are you guys still in business school?
Daniel Webster Clark: We are! We’re wrapping up our school year in about three weeks but we’ve been working on this as a passion project. Once we had prototypes and saw how many different types of guys liked wearing them and had fun in them, we said let’s try and get this out in the world and see what happens. We graduate in June but we’re currently still enrolled at Kellogg.
Elaine Chen: I personally love a romper for women, and we were looking for something different that didn’t already exist for guys. Daniel here was a little tired of wearing the same button down and pants so we got to talking about why we couldn’t build a better product and make a romper available for men that’s cool and fun and different and is a conversation starter at the end of the day.
So, what kind of conversations does it start?
Chen: You don’t necessarily know what the conversation will be but it will be a new conversation and may end up being a brand-new experience or a brand-new friend for you. And that’s the fun of it. We think this is a way for guys to have a new option in their wardrobe, to have fun, to feel unique, and take it wherever it goes. If they’re comfortable with themselves in it then we think that’s great.
What is the ideal environment for the RompHim?
Clark: We’ve taken them to festivals and the Kentucky Derby. We’ve also been wearing them all over Chicago, everywhere from brunch to hanging out down by the beach. Really the main issue is the bathroom. We were told by our female friends that it’s not ideal in the romper. So we solved that at least partially for guys. We also provided a zipper in the back pocket for extra security which is something we heard guys were worried about.
So you made it pee friendly?
Clark: The thing that comes up for women is, well, “I hate wearing it in any kind of public setting where I’m going to have to use the restroom because I basically have to take it all the way off and it gets quite awkward.” But what we found was for guys was we could work around that problem with a zipper fly. And that solved the vast majority of public restroom issues.
Chen: Personally I am very pro rompers and every time I put one on I know I am committing to it for the day. But I do so anyway because I love the way it looks, I love the style. But recognizing that that is a hindrance for women. We figured, why not solve it for men.
Just one more thing men can have, that women can’t.
Chen: I’m actually jealous… that now all of the co-founders can wear a Romper much more accessibly than I can.
Do you recommend men wear briefs with the RompHim?
Clark: Yeah absolutely. Um, I don’t know if that’s up on our FAQs yet but if not it will certainly be added there. It’s definitely one where the underwear selection is an important choice.