Combatant Gentlemen

Menswear Innovator Runs Design-to-Delivery E-Commerce Business on Heroku

Combatant Gentlemen manages every aspect of apparel manufacturing to provide affordable men’s formal wear

Sometimes a hoodie and jeans just doesn’t cut it. You need a suit to look sharp and sophisticated for that job interview, client meeting, wedding, or other formal occasion. You want to upgrade your wardrobe with sleek Italian wool in order to manifest your inner gentleman. Yet designer menswear can be tough on the budget.

Established in 2012, Combatant Gentleman brings premium menswear to the next generation of gentlemen at affordable prices. The founder wanted to disrupt the men’s formal wear market by revolutionizing its supply chain model for e-commerce. Fashion companies typically rely on middlemen for various stages of production. Combatant Gentlemen, however, controls every aspect of the product lifecycle. The company sources its own raw materials, designs its clothing in-house, and runs its own factories. Vertical integration allows them to keep production costs low and pass on savings to their customers.

Tech-First Fashion

Not just a manufacturing enterprise, Combatant Gentlemen is also a technology company. Their platform experience goes beyond simply shopping—it helps men find the perfect fit or curate the perfect outfit. A data-driven recommendation algorithm uses customer behavior and preferences combined with contextual information, such as event type and weather forecast. A monthly lifestyle magazine immerses visitors in all aspects of a young gentleman’s lifestyle. Internal systems are designed to help the company streamline their manufacturing and inventory processes in order to minimize shelf-time and waste.

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Building an Apparel Brand on Heroku

Like its manufacturing model, Combatant Gentlemen built its own digital business from the ground up. There are a lot of moving parts, from managing changes within their end-to-end supply chain to building innovative customer features. This meant that the engineering team needed to concentrate on developing their product, so the PaaS approach made the most sense.

For us, it’s all about agility. We employ continuous delivery methodologies, and we’re very test-driven. Heroku was not only a great fit for our workflow, but the platform made our developers happy. Scott Raio, Co-Founder & CTO, Combatant Gentlemen

The team was interested in Docker-style deployment, so they started their platform on Tutum, which is now part of Docker Cloud. They needed a more comprehensive feature set, so they tried building their own PaaS using open source solutions, such as Deis and Flynn. Although they could more easily deploy and scale, they were spending too much time managing infrastructure.

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We finally realized: why build an open source PaaS that’s just like Heroku, when it’s easier to just go with Heroku? Our team adds more value to the business when we focus shipping product. Scott Raio, Co-Founder & CTO, Combatant Gentlemen

Optimizing Performance with Heroku Private Spaces

After migrating to the Heroku platform in early 2015, Combatant Gentlemen now runs their microservices architecture on Heroku Private Spaces. Their 25+ services are mostly written in Ruby, due to the language’s development speed and flexibility, and leverage Grape, a Ruby framework for creating REST-like APIs. Their API gateway is written in Go, for raw performance, and their client-facing service that runs UIs is written in Node.js to power Backbone and Marionette front-end apps. They use RabbitMQ for asynchronous message passing and HTTP with MessagePack or ZeroMQ for synchronous communication. Their database solution is MongoDB.

Moving to Heroku Private Spaces has really helped us optimize performance of our microservices by enabling our private dynos to communicate and support our service discovery framework. Scott Raio, Co-Founder & CTO, Combatant Gentlemen

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Service discovery has been a big focus for the team, and Heroku Private Spaces has helped them optimize performance by enabling communication between dynos. The team wrote their own Rails-like framework, which they call “Vine” (relating to Ruby’s “Grape”) to connect the services together. This has helped them handle a broad, rich dataset and respond quickly to business challenges and customer needs. The team’s next step is to connect their Heroku Private Space to an Amazon VPN, which will allow them to connect their database to the same private network as their Private Space.

Heroku Private Spaces has given us all the benefits of the Heroku platform combined with the architectural flexibility we needed to simplify private dyno communication and service discovery. Scott Raio, Co-Founder & CTO, Combatant Gentlemen

Looking Good is Good Business

With Heroku, the Combatant Gentlemen team went from 2-week sprints on previous platforms to deploying features daily on Heroku. To the team, it was a night and day difference to be able to get a feature or bug fix out without having to wait for everything to integrate. They can confidently maintain a steady stream of work that can go straight into production after testing, sometimes on the same day.

Faster product evolution has helped their innovative business model skyrocket. With Combatant Gentlemen, young men find stylish, affordable suits to help them get ahead, and all men can look their best while suited up and ready for everyday battle.

Learn more about how Combatant Gentlemen solved service discovery using Heroku Private Spaces. Read our developer interview with Scott Raio, Co-Founder and CTO.

Is your company building an e-commerce and manufacturing business? Combatant Gentlemen relies on Heroku to help them quickly scale their business and drive customer engagement. For more information, contact Heroku today.

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