Bonobos, named after the endangered ape, was likewise born out of a do-it-yourself project. Spaly, like many men, had a hard time finding pants that fit well despite his athletic build.
Mass-market pants, the kind you find at chain stores, are often baggy and frumpy, with lots of extra fabric around the thigh, Spaly says. He calls this "khaki diaper-butt." High-end designer pants, meanwhile, are expensive and too tight, cut for pencil-legged fashionistas and runway models.
Bonobos aims for the comfy middle ground. Its pants, most of which cost $118, have a curved waistband, less fabric in the thighs than the frumpy pants its founders frown on, and a slight boot cut. They come in classic men's colors like khaki, blue and gray, but also in orange, pale lavender and jungle green with bright flowers.
The company is so confident in its designs it accepts pants for return, free of postage for the buyer, no matter when they were bought and even if they've been washed, worn and hemmed.
That is yet another parallel with Zappos, which accepts returns, postage paid, for 365 days. Both offer free domestic shipping. Such policies, along with impeccable costumer service, are crucial for Web-only retailers looking to sell things that people are used to trying on in brick-and-mortar stores.
Bonobos, which doesn't sell women's clothing, operates under the assumption that men don't like shopping. Bonobos encourages customers to order pants in several sizes and return the ones that don't fit.