Menswear Maker Aims to Fashion Future in L.A.


A New York-based men’s custom clothing company that relies on digital technology to customize its garments is stepping into the L.A. fashion scene.

Sene opened its first brick-and-mortar store this month on the up-and-coming block of La Brea Avenue between First and Second streets.

Former brand consultant Ray Li founded the company in 2014 with a showroom in the Flatiron District of Manhattan.

The chief executive said he chose Los Angeles for his second location because of the city’s rising status as a fashion capital.

“I think a lot of the identity of fashion in L.A. is shifting and growing,” Li, 29, said. “It felt like a good opportunity to be a part of shaping that.”

The company makes tuxedos for between $495 and $695 as well as other men’s garments with a minimalist aesthetic from customer’s measurements, which can be taken at home with sample sizes or at the store. Customers will also soon be able to have a 3-D scan of their body taken at fitness body scanning company Fit3D in Redwood City, Li said. The garments are shipped within 10 to 15 days.

Similar types of custom-made e-commerce menswear stores have set up shop recently, such as Indochino, which placed a showroom in Beverly Hills, and Trumaker.

Li, who moved to Los Angeles in October, said that Sene differentiates itself with the technology the company employs in its factories in Alabama and China to translate a person’s measurements into a pattern used to laser-cut the fabric. The process cuts down on the cost and helps create a fit that is flattering to a person’s measurements, according to Li, who declined to provide sales figures but said he expects to multiply 2016’s sales by four to six times this year.

Sene has money and tech help from Silicon Beach tech studio Fishermen Labs co-founders Eden Chen, whom Li has known since childhood, and Charles Hu. Chen and Hu have invested $300,000 in seed money, according to Li, who said he bootstrapped the rest.

The company also has support from Beth Viner, chief operating officer at Kickstarter, who sits on Sene’s board. Viner was Li’s boss at brand consulting firm Interbrand.

Sene plans on launching a women’s line later this year and possibly opening more stores, Li said.

Restaurant Shuffle

When one restaurant door closes, another opens.

So it goes for local operator Midcourse Hospitality Group, which closed three of its eight L.A. restaurants this month.

The casualties included the Santa Monica and West Hollywood locations of Mediterranean seafood restaurant Maré as well as West Hollywood gourmet sandwich shop Greenspan’s Grilled Cheese, named after Food Network personality and chef-owner Eric Greenspan.

Midcourse, which is co-owned by Greenspan and three partners, countered those closings with the February opening of a Maré in Silver Lake and the launch this month of kosher deli Fleishik’s Sandwiches, Nosh & Whiskey in the Fairfax District. The deli, he said, has done better than expected.

Greenspan declined to provide any financial figures.

The closures come as the restaurant industry is expected to see consolidation this year. However, the shutdowns weren’t due to the increasing minimum wage or health benefit costs, which have been blamed for the shuttering of some area eateries, Greenspan said.

Rather, the timing was right to close locations the group hadn’t intended to keep open long term because of being ill-suited to the concepts, he said.

“We grew faster than we necessarily wanted,” Greenspan said.

The company opened Maré Santa Monica last year when renting the space for its vegan restaurant Erven on the same block of Santa Monica Boulevard. Midcourse expected customers familiar with Maré in West Hollywood to visit the Santa Monica location and then possibly return to Erven. But the opposite happened and sales stagnated at Maré down the block.

“The instant rapid-fire success of Erven made everyone want to go there,” said Greenspan.

Maré Silver Lake best suits the concept envisioned by Midcourse partner Jim Hustead, said Greenspan. The space seats 90 comfortably and provides shelter from poor weather, unlike the original Melrose Avenue space, which was all outdoor seating.

Still remaining for Midcourse, which is co-owned by James Moon of the Southern California sandwich chain Stone Oven and chef Nick Erven, is the Roof on Wilshire, an American restaurant atop Miracle Mile’s Kimpton Hotel Wilshire.

The company, which has investors, isn’t planning on opening any other restaurants, whether old or new concepts, at the moment, although Greenspan left the door open if the right opportunity comes along.

Staff reporter Caroline Anderson can be reached at [email protected] or 323-556-8329.

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