Homegrown: Daniel Shapiro

Some people have an ambitious drive to do something out of the ordinary that others just dream about. St. Louis native Daniel Shapiro is one of those people. From an early age, the Clayton High Grad (’94) has been fascinated by the complexities of the retail industry, the ins and outs of what gets clothing off the shelves and into people’s closets. And now, after years of research and experience, he made his longtime dream a reality by creating Fourlaps, a men’s athletic apparel brand. After making it through the trying process of designing, producing and launching the collection, Shapiro notes the journey has just begun.

T&S | When did you become interested in fashion and retail?
Daniel Shapiro | I was always giving suggestions on clothing and what stores to shop. In college, I worked at Banana Republic and didn’t realize at the time that it could be a career. I majored in finance and history at Washington University and worked in that realm for the first few years after graduation.

T&S | What prompted you to make the move?
DS | I was talking to a good family friend, Stanley Tanger (who started Tanger Factory Outlet Centers), about wanting to start an apparel company, and he told me to get experience first. I started at Gap Inc. in distribution and then merchandising in San Francisco. I stayed there eight years, went to American Eagle for four, then back to Gap. But I got to the point where I said, I have to try this if I’m going to do it.

T&S | Did your experience help?
DS | It helped tremendously, and it’s also nice to have a finance background.

T&S | Why athletic apparel, and what’s behind the name?
DS | Staying fit and exercising is becoming part of people’s lifestyles, and I felt like a lot of what was out there was either not marketed at men or was overly expensive. Fourlaps offers high-quality, functional pieces at reasonable prices. The name is based on the four laps it takes to run a mile around a track; a mile is often the first athletic milestone for someone.

T&S | Briefly explain the process of coming up with your concept and designing the brand.
DS | I brought my ideas to a branding/marketing agency, and once we refined them, I worked with a designer on how I wanted everything to look.

T&S | You’ve partnered with Randy and Jeff Vines of STL-Style for some of the pieces, correct?
DS | Yes, their company is producing the T-shirts and hats for me. My dad went to high school with their dad. I wanted to have a tie to St. Louis since it’s such an important part of who I am.

T&S | What challenges did you face during the process?
DS | I basically had to start completely from scratch a second time because the factory I originally chose didn’t work out. But I believed very strongly in what I was doing, and as an entrepreneur, it’s all in how you deal with setbacks. There is no one else to fix your problems.

T&S | Do you hope to expand the product line?
DS | We’ve gotten a lot of incredible press and a great response since the launch in August. The key with a new brand is that you have to have new things to talk about as you move forward. Ideally, I want to stay a direct-to-consumer brand because that’s the way the market is trending. (Available at

T&S | Do you have favorite St. Louis spots that are a must when you visit?
DS | I come home at least four times a year, and I have to go to two places: Mai Lee, one of my favorite Vietnamese restaurants in the country, and Brasserie. It rivals a great bistro in France!

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