“In fashioning myself, I fashion man” – E-Tailers Champion A Sartorial Renaissance in Masculinity
When it comes to shopping, men generally fall into one of two camps: (a) those who simply don’t know how to shop and would rather book their next root canal before embarking on such an experience and (b) those who don’t have time to shop and shudder at the prospect of waiting in long lines. To the rescue of men everywhere, a new generation of tech concierge clothing services has taken a page from the Mad Men era and benched the mundane salesperson for a personal style expert. These companies seamlessly marry technology and that indispensable women’s touch, arming their personal shoppers with useful algorithms and data that improve the likelihood of yet another happy customer. In much the same manner as Netflix disrupted the movie industry, subscription retail websites, such as Trunk Club (@TrunkClub) and Bombfell (@Bombfell), have taken the fashion industry by storm by effortlessly integrating the online and offline customer experience; in turn, creating a hassle-free personal styling experience, all done with a personal touch.
For a man willing to hand over the reins to an e-tailer’s personal stylist, there is little reason to visit a clothing store again (aside from the rare drop-in to offer consolation to those unaware of e-tailers). Thus far, e-tailers have been successful at tapping the potential of the men’s fashion market. By shielding male consumers from the frustrations of shopping, introducing them to new brands, giving free fashion tips and delivering clothing directly to their doors, e-tailers have created a personalized service that harkens back to the mid-century with a modern twist manifest in each perfectly curated item hand-picked for the customer. This personal styling component is a major selling point and an integral part of these companies’ success. The fact that Trunk Club’s clothes are hand-picked with the personal tastes of each customer in mind allows customers to have a shopping experience that feels as if they were actually in a store. This unique dynamic provides a private forum for the customer to voice his fashion penchants, and, over time, gives the stylist a better understanding of the client’s specific tastes and fit in order to deliver trunks that fulfill the client’s every fashion need.
Women’s wear has forever been considered the belle of the ball to the fashion industry, while men’s wear has been considered the sartorially dysfunctional step-child. Traditionally, trends in men’s wear have moved at a glacial pace and been out of step with the cycle of items appearing in runway shows, fashion-forward blogs and magazines. However, the men’s fashion market is taking huge steps at altering the convictions of the fashion industry due in large part to a male consumer base that is more seasoned and willing to spend more than ever before. The meteoric rise of retail tech companies –Trunk Club, Bombfell, Five Four Club, Curator and Mule, and The Mr. Collection, just to name a few – proves that the once green men’s fashion market is now ripe for the taking. By merging technology and fashion, these online shopping assistance websites are stimulating the growth of a potential $100 billion men’s retail market. The lack of competition in this arena makes it fertile ground to reap profits and redefine the game of men’s fashion – a proposition that Nordstrom categorically accepted evident by its acquisition of Trunk Club in August, 2014.
Over the past decade, we have seen explosive growth in terms of the interest in men’s wear. And, e-tailers have blazed a trail by seemingly creating the ultimate personalized shopping experience for men. In sharp contrast to the shopping experience that many of us are familiar with, e-tailers are channeling an earlier time in retail, and styling men in clothing that promises a look of time-honored refinement and sartorial masculinity.