In the realm of fashion, where creativity and conscience collide, a rising star has emerged—Bonobas Apparel. This innovative brand not only aims to outfit individuals in trendy and comfortable clothing but also strives to make a positive impact on both the environment and the conservation of one of our closest primate relatives, the bonobas.

Bonobos (apparel)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
IndustryRetail, apparel, e-commerce
Founded2007; 16 years ago
  • Andy Dunn
  • Brian Spaly
HeadquartersNew York City, U.S.
Number of locations
62 (as of May 2019)
Area served
United States

Bonobos is an e-commerce-driven apparel company that designs and sells menswear including men’s suits, trousers, denim, shirts, shorts, swimwear, outerwear, and accessories. The company was founded by Stanford Business School students Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly, and launched as an online retailer in 2007.[1]

In 2012, Bonobos diversified to incorporate physical retail locations with the launch of their “Guideshop” locations[2] and through a partnership with Nordstrom.

In April 2023, Express and management firm WHP Global agreed to acquire Bonobos from Walmart for $75 million.[3] The deal was completed on May 25, 2023.[4]


Early history 

Bonobos was founded by Brian Spaly, who began designing men’s pants at Stanford Business School that featured a curved waistband, medium rise, and tailored thigh that fit better than khakis and eliminated “khaki diaper butt.”[5] As demand grew, he and housemate Andy Dunn pursued the project as a business opportunity.[6]

Initially, the brand was launched exclusively online.[7] Dunn cashed in his 401(k) to build and raised a round of angel investment. Initial investors included Wealthfront CEO and former venture capitalist Andy Rachleff and JetBlue chairman and founding Bonobos board member Joel Peterson, both of whom had lectured Dunn at Stanford Business School. Dunn then moved to New York with 400 pairs of pants that he picked, packed, and shipped from his Union Square apartment.[8]

Within six months, the firm grew to five employees and a $1 million net revenue run rate. In its first three years, the company received over $7 million in funding from angel investors. In 2009, Spaly moved on to another venture, running the Chicago-based fashion commerce company Trunk Club.[9]

In 2010, the company received its first institutionally-driven financing round, raising $18.5 million from Accel Partners and Lightspeed Venture Partners. As part of the round, Accel Partners’s Sameer Gandhi and Lightspeed Venture Partners’s Jeremy Liew joined Bonobos’s board.[10]

As Bonobos expanded its assortment to include suits, dress shirts, outerwear, and tailored pieces, more customers requested the opportunity to “try before they buy”. In fall 2011, the company tested an e-commerce store at their New York headquarters, calling the location a “Guideshop”.[11] The purpose of the Guideshop location was to provide a physical space for customers to try on Bonobos prior to e-commerce transactions being placed. Within a year, the concept became an integral part of the firm’s service and business model.[12]

Company growth (2012-2017) 

In 2012, Bonobos closed a $16.4 million strategic minority investment round led by Nordstrom,[13] with participation from existing investors. In tandem, Bonobos partnered with Nordstrom[14] to sell the brand’s clothing in their full-line stores and website. Bonobos furthered its offline reach in May 2012, opening its first standalone Guideshop location in Boston.[15] By January 2013, Bonobos had opened additional Guideshop locations in Chicago,[16] Georgetown,[17] and San Francisco.[18]

Bonobos announced a $30 million round in 2013, with Glynn Capital and Mousse Partners joining existing investors Accel Partners, Lightspeed Venture Partners, Forerunner Ventures and Nordstrom. At this time, Forerunner’s Managing Partner Kirsten Green joined the Bonobos board and total funding to date reached nearly $73 million.[19] Simultaneously, the company launched the golf brand Maide,[20] which is the second brand launched by the Bonobos team. By August 2013, Bonobos had opened Guideshop locations on Crosby Street[21] in New York; Bethesda, Maryland;[22] Austin, Texas; and the luxury shopping enclave of Greenwich Avenue, in Greenwich, Connecticut, [23] bringing the total location count to nine. By August 2013 employee headcount reached 175. Dunn temporarily hired Francine Della Badia, the former head of Coach’s North American retail division and Victoria´s Secret, to take his place in summer 2015.[24] Three months later, she stepped down because “she felt she couldn’t change the company’s culture,”[25] and Dunn re-assumed the role.[25]

Recent history (2017-)

In June 2017, Walmart announced it was purchasing the brand for $310 million, making it a subsidiary within its fashion department.[26][27][28] The brand would not be sold in the Walmart stores; instead it would be sold on Walmart’s recently purchased Bonobos CEO Andy Dunn remained with the company after the purchase.[29] He became Walmart’s senior vice president of digital brands, which also included Allswell. Micky Onvural, who had joined Bonobos as CMO in 2015, became the new CEO.[30]

John Hutchison became CEO in 2022 after Onvural’s departure earlier in the year.[31]

In April 2023, fashion retailer Express and management firm WHP Global agreed to acquire Bonobos from Walmart for a combined $75 million. Express would obtain the operating assets and liabilities for $25 million and WHP Global would obtain the brand for $50 million, with Express agreeing to license the brand rights in exchange for royalty fees.[3]

In June 2023, Bonobos announced co-founder Andy Dunn would return to the company as an advisor. At this time, WHP Global CEO Yehuda Shmidman told CNBC he wanted to expand the company’s physical footprint internationally.[32]


Bonobos refers to its e-commerce site’s customer service representatives as Ninjas,[33] a term conceptualized by Dunn to attract college-educated qualified candidates to the job.[34]

In early 2012, Bonobos opened a West Coast office to build a Silicon Valley-based technology team in an effort to expand its nationwide retail presence.[35] Following 18 months, the firm attempted to minimize inefficiencies by eliminating bi-coastal offices, which were then redundant; hence, in 2013, Bonobos relocated the technology arm to its New York headquarters.[36]


  1. ^ Lieber, Chavie (2015-06-11). “Bonobos and the Brotherhood of the Flattering Pants”Racked. Retrieved 2019-04-24.
  2. ^ Clifford, Stephanie (18 December 2012). “Once Proudly Web Only, Shopping Sites Hang Out Real Shingles”The New York Times. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  3. Jump up to:a b Fonrouge, Gabrielle. “Walmart sells Bonobos to WHP Global and Express in $75 million deal”CNBC. Retrieved 2023-04-14.
  4. ^ Express closes on Bonobos acquisition as sales fall 15% Nate Delesline III, May 24, 2023
  5. ^ Machan, Dyan (November 2008). “By the Seat of Their Pants” (PDF)SmartMoney. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
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  10. ^ Wei, William. “The Story Of Bonobos: Turning Good-Looking Pants Into A $15 Million Company In Three Years”. Business Insider. Retrieved 18 July 2013.
  11. ^ St.John, Oliver (March 12, 2013). “Bonobos opens stores that don’t sell anything”USA Today. Retrieved July 19, 2013.
  12. ^ “Bonobos Guideshop- San Francisco”. Yelp. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  13. ^ Rusli, Evelyn (11 April 2012). “Stores Go Online to Find a Perfect Fit”New York Times. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
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  15. ^ Abelson, Jenn (6 October 2012). “Clothing stores court men with free beer, big-screen TVs”The Boston Globe. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
  16. ^ Hatch, Jared. “Andy Dunn Opens Permanent Bonobos Guideshop on Armitage”. Racked. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
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  20. ^ Auclair, T.J. “Bonobos launches Maide Golf, a hip, new apparel line”. PGA. Retrieved 19 July 2013.
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  25. Jump up to:a b Segran, Elizabeth (2017-11-14). “Fashion Startups Aspire To Be The Anti-Bonobos”Fast Company. Retrieved 2019-05-27.
  26. ^ Walmart Bonobos Merger 2017/06/16
  27. ^ Walmart to Acquire Bonobos and Appoint Andy Dunn to Oversee Exclusive Consumer Brands Offered Online June 16, 2017
  28. ^ ANNE D’INNOCENZIO, Walmart to acquire online men’s clothing retailer Bonobos Archived 2017-06-17 at the Wayback Machine The Associated Press JUNE 16, 2017
  29. ^ Valinsky, Jordan (2017-06-16). “Walmart is buying Bonobos for $310 million”CNNMoney. Retrieved 2017-06-16.
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  35. ^ Biggs, John. “Clothing Brand Bonobos Snags Netflix Director Of Engineering”. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  36. ^ Crook, Jordan. “Bonobos’ SF Engineers Split Between NY Relocation And New Company Led By CTO Mike Hart”. Retrieved 29 July 2013.