Bonobos co-founder Andy Dunn explains how he changed his styleless way to run a top fashion brand.


  • Andy Dunn is the co-founder and former CEO of menswear brand Bonobos.
  • In his new memoir, “Burn Rate,” he details the paradoxical challenges he faced while leading a fashion company. He never went out of fashion.
  • Dunn wrote that his co-founder Brian Spaly bought him the clothes and that “we needed a fashion startup frontman, not neon orange responsibility.”

How do you run a fashion company if you’re not fashionable yourself?

Andy Dunn, in his new memoir, “Burn Rate: Launching Startup and Losing My Mind,” published on Tuesday, recalls himself at this very predicament as co-founder and former CEO of menswear brand Bonobos.

In the book, Dunn recalls meeting Bonobos co-founder Brian Spaly at Stanford Business School.

“We became quick friends and decided to spend a room together in Schwab, the dormitory where most of the first year of Stanford Business School lived,” Dunn wrote. “I admired Spaly. He was better at sports. He had more fun. He had more money. He was self-reliant, trained and frugal. I wasn’t like that.”

Of the most important differences between them, Dunn said, “But it was this difference that defined our future. He was fashionable and I didn’t.”

The pair went on to launch Bonobos online in 2007, initially only selling pants before offering other clothing items. According to the book, Spaly was skeptical about Dunn becoming the company’s CEO because of his approach to clothing.

“Spally and I were on the run,” Dunn recalled. “He said something that should have served as a bit of a warning: ‘The only problem you have with running this company is that you’re not that trendy.’ It was cut and it was true.”

“But Spaly was right,” Dunn wrote. “Fashion wasn’t my strength as someone who ran a fashion company.” “I wore a strange combination. We had thicker orange corduroy pants with a thicker wale called F. Scotts. I paired them with a Walter Payton Chicago Bears jersey replica, a tight fit T-shirt I bought on eBay. Match the orange pop of Bears’ stripes to the pants. As Spaly said, ‘Oh boy.'”

When the two started creating Bonobos, Spaly stepped in to help style Dunn’s outfits.

“Spally started buying me clothes,” Dunn said. “We needed a fashion startup frontman, not a neon orange responsibility. He went to the Ralph Lauren sample sales and returned with a bright purple cashmere sweater, a half-zip cotton pullover, and pre-school black and red. embroidered jacket. He suggested which pants to wear with each item and gave me advice on buying compatible shoes.”

Outside of the book, Dunn has previously talked about not being particularly polished. In fact, he says, bonobos were made in part for men on board.

“I’m the least likely to be the CEO of a fashion company, but at the same time I think it’s almost perfect, because bonobos are made to make it easier for men to wear nice clothes,” he said. said AP 2017. “We built the brand for men who need a little help, not just men with a great sense of fashion.”

In “Burn Rate,” Dunn recounts her experience running a business as a person with bipolar disorder and shares advice for other business leaders with mental illness.

Leave a Comment