Brunch Takes The Best Of The Leisurely Weekend Meal And Transforms It Into Cute, Functional Products

“When your favorite sneaker meets your favorite slipper.”

That’s the tag line of Brunch, Gen Z entrepreneur Daniel Sitt’s DTC and retail concept, an idea so clever, it will induce “I wish I’d thought of that” recriminations from jealous observers. (Brunch is pegged towards Gen Z, a cohort whose members are between the age of eight and 23.)

Full disclosure, Daniel Sitt isn’t your average college graduate starting a business in his dorm room. Sitt comes from a long line of retailers, and was raised on a constant diet of real estate and retail conversation.

His father, Joe Sitt was a pioneer in the value industry. He had the early realization of the retail gap that left broad swathes of inner city consumers largely underserved by major retailers.

In response, he founded in 1991 Ashley Stewart; the name, inspired by Laura Ashley and Martha Stewart, which sold modern and fashionable plus-size clothing to urban women.

Sitt made sure that each Ashley Stewart store hired from within the community, and the company was recognized by President Clinton for its large contribution to the nation’s innovative Welfare to Work program.

After acquiring 98 stores for $61.25 million in 1998 from the bankrupt Petrie Retail Inc. (founded by Milton Petrie), Ashley Stewart grew to over 380 stores in more than 100 cities, which prompted many national retailers to follow suit and helped change the urban retail landscape.

As part of the deal with Petrie Retail, Sitt acquired Marianne Stores, a retail outlet specializing in clothing for Latina women. As business boomed, Sitt sold his interest in 2000 to concentrate on urban real estate through his company, Thor Equities.

In Daniel Sitt’s case, the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. The younger Sitt, said he got a lot of mentoring from his father, and older brother, Joshua, cofounder of the brand Madhappy.

“It’s good to have him there,” the younger Sitt said about his father. “He’s old school and I’m new school. He’s all about the art of dealmaking and operations and managing people and I’m all about the atmosphere.”

It turns out, Daniel Sitt has been able to navigate retail’s choppy waters – especially during the Covid-19 pandemic – with aplomb. “Ever since I started this business, I’ve been obsessing over shoes,” he said. “Once you’ve been bit by the footwear bug, it’s a dangerous habit.

“The store is looking amazing,” Sitt said, referring to the pop-up shop in SoHo. “We’ve all learned from each other. Josh and I have three older siblings who kind of paved the way for me. Joshua guided me through Brunch and showed me the ropes.”

Daniel Sitt wants the Brunch brand to be transformational in the lives of consumers. “We launched 18 months ago,” Sitt said, referring to to the popup at 349 West Broadway. “We’re based in New York. We launched around the concept of travel and leisure. We actually launched during the Covid-19 pandemic. I was always stealing hotel slippers, and I’d wear them all around. That’s the germ of the idea that became Brunch.”

Sitt said he developed a habit of wearing slippers on any occasion. “One reason is it was fun to be quirky and out of the box,” he said. “The second reason is that the slippers transported me back to a vacation. I’m nostalgic for those vacations with my family.

“Also, it’s the idea of being transported,” Sitt added. “When you’re on vacation, you step out of your routine. When I’m home, it’s like I’m being transported back to a city I visited, and I’m not thinking about the day-to-day, which is stressful.”

The concept for the product was, to add a sneaker bottom to the cozy terry cloth top, making it the perfect slipper for “all your outdoor runs, like getting coffee and walking the dog to getting the newspaper and just hanging out in the neighborhood,” Sitt said. “It’s playful.

“We did a collaboration with three hospitality brands,” Sitt said. “We did a collaboration with a beautiful experience on the Amalfi coast. We shot the restaurant and the locals. We went to Miami beach, which was exciting. We also did a collaboration with Casa Tua, a restaurant with locations in Canada, Miami and New York.

“The concept for the pop-up shop is a lobby experience,” Sitt said. “Whenever I’m on a vacation, I wake up at 7 am or 8 am. The store is transporting you to your favorite lobby. We have a coffee shop, seasonal fruit, and you can sit down and relax. It’s not a traditional retail format. It’s either your den or your hotel lobby.”

Sitt said the inspiration is, on any given day, for the store to feel like a visit to “a Tuscan lobby with a beautiful Italian vibe. That’s what we kind of brought when it comes to aesthetics.”

Brunch began as a modest business, which started in Sitt’s Babson College dorm room. “I actually started the company in a very limited way,” he said. “That school is kind of like a cult when it comes to entrepreneurship. I had to do something else in my junior year. They taught us every aspect of launching a company, from the financial aspect, team management, and hiring, so I put all those resources into play. At school, I had a lot of free time, that wasn’t just devoted to school work.

“I tried to get advice from a lot of footwear people, because footwear is a very complex industry in terms of production,” Sitt said. “When we did the launch, it was minimal product just to test out the concept. I thought, ‘Let me see how people react to it, and what they think of it.’ We oversold more than we could have dreamed of.”

In the last 18 months, Sitt has branched off into ancillary products that are typically found at luxury vacation destinations. “We did a backgammon set for the times when you’re sitting by the pool,” he said. “We did a robe, and we’ve done a beach towel set and a candle set. A dream would be to create a local wine bar where we’re selling slippers and drinking wine, a community kind of shop.”

Sitt said his next inspiration for a product may revolve around the chef’s white jacket. “Consumers could collect the jackets, which are emblazoned with the chef’s name and the name of the restaurant,” he said. “We actually have same-day delivery from our warehouse, which is awesome. Consumers today, want their slippers now.”

Sitt, who isn’t married, said he’d love to move to the suburbs of New Jersey when he has children. “Now, the city isn’t great for raising children and playing in the fields, if it’s sports, or walking through town safely. It’s such a strong foundation. We’re doing a collaboration with the restaurant Jack’s Wife Freda, in late December themed around living in New York.”

Sitt is calling in his favors from well-connected friends. Lucali’s a Brooklyn pizzeria, which is often cited as the best in New York City, is collaborating with Sitt on a product. “Lucali’s is actually providing us with the pizza tomorrow night [the party for the soft opening].

The young brand even scored a coup, a collaboration with Coca Cola, themed around how wearing slippers makes you feel warm and cozy. “We’re really excited to keep moving forward,” Sitt said. “Our core product is terry, which we sourced through Materials Connection, a computer base. Our terry is anti-microbial, and stain resistant, not stainproof. It’s awesome.”

The Coca Cola partnership came about when Sitt reached out to the beverage company. There was a connection who worked there, but he couldn’t remember whom it was.

“When we pitched [Coke] with the concept, they were blown away and got really excited,” Sitt said. “We’re so excited for that launch. We’ve done a few events, weddings, for example. Brides love the slippers for brides maids’ gifts. The wedding party can wear them on the dance floor when their feet are throbbing from high heel shoes. The slippers can be customized with embroidery of initials or flowers.”

Coffee ‘N Clothes, a young company started by Ryan Glick, takes a similar approach to clients as Sitt’s Brunch. Glick who’s hired by luxury brands, draws images, names or logos into cappuccinos and lattes at store opening events. “Homing in on the philosophy of the brand is really important,” Sitt said. “Whenever I travel it really opens up my mind and my perspective.”

Sitt’s ultimate dream, however, is to open a local wine bar, which would become a hangout in the neighborhood. “We’d be having wine and selling slippers,” Sitt said. “I think you have the inspiration for my next company. Brunch could have events at Jack’s Wife Freda, with whom we’re doing a collaboration in late December.

Sitt sees the brand through the lens of travel, and how it makes you feel. “It’s very important to us to really home in on the travel aspect of the brand,” he said. “From what I see, travel creates a lot of creativity around product design, marketing and speaking to the consumer.

“It’s meeting all these people I’d never meet,” Sitt added. “Travel inspires people to see new things and expand their knowledge. We’re creating travel products and exploring restaurants off the beaten path. We’re bringing out these travel experiences and finding the unexplored and unknown.”

The concept lends itself to a plethora of products, from travel journals to city recommendations. The travel brand also has a blog. “The aesthetic is like the golden age of travel, when everything was really stylized,” Sitt said. “That was before people started wearing track suits to the airport.

“A few years ago, when I was still working at WWD, I went to the Louis Vuitton runway show, which was held at the old TWA building,” I said. “They, of course, did a nice job. Maybe you could tap into doing something with them or another luxury brand.”

The new IRL shopping experience in the heart of SoHo will offer Brunch’s staple Le Classic and L’Essential slippers in the beloved Brunch rainbow, as well as new exclusive in-store only colors and fabrics.

SoHo will serve as the site of the launch of Brunch’s newest, L’Essential Corduroy Collection for fall/winter 2022. The store will also house an exclusive collaboration with Jack’s Wife Freda, new accessories, home goods and a custom “Afternoon in SoHo” sweatshirt.

Inspired by everyone’s favorite hotel accessory, Brunch is a New York-based lifestyle brand on a mission to deliver luxury to everyday life. Launched in 2020 and founded on the philosophy that every day should feel like vacation, Brunch offers hotel-inspired slippers with the durability of your favorite sneaker.

The inspiration behind the new space evokes the airy comfort of a rustic Tuscan hotel lobby, Sitt said, adding that “Brunch is bringing vacation to your doorstep. The elegant lobby includes a Brunch Café, with a wide array of snacks, coffee drinks and pastries for all destination-seekers to co-mingle and congregate.

“What’s exciting for me is how we’ve been blowing this up,” Sitt said. “We’ve been getting support from influencers such as Emma Chamberlain and Ariel Charnas. You’d think they’d never collaborate with a young brand, but they see what we’re doing and want to be a part of it.”