Socks, meat, socks for your meat (condoms, that is); there are very few things that you can’t get a subscription for these days.
But what about what’s hanging in your wardrobe? Would you trust a stranger behind a screen to pick your threads? Well, a growing number of men are doing just that, freeing themselves of the burden of shopping and handing over all sartorial responsibility to clothing subscription services.
What Is A Subscription Box?
The phrase ‘subscription box’ can bring to mind a certain idea: a monthly delivery of stuff that you haven’t chosen, don’t necessarily want and probably won’t ever use. It’s the kind of thing that you sign up to (possibly drunk) thinking it’ll be a really handy and time-saving thing, only to be left with a regular hole in your paycheck and a pile of unopened boxes in the corner of your bedroom.
Thankfully, clothing subscription services don’t work like this at all. Rather, they are carefully curated – either to slot into your pre-existing wardrobe or specially selected ensembles for an event – and are increasingly becoming the principal method of shopping for some men.
Menswear stylist Safiya Yekwai, who has dressed grime superstar Stormzy, believes that it’s down to the fact that guys are becoming more and more interested in fashion. “Men are now interested in expressing themselves through what they wear. However, even though men’s fashion is moving on leaps and bounds from a basic T-shirt and jeans or a suit, the biggest building block for any outfit is still functionality. As a stylist, you always want to create balance between fashion-flair, comfort and function.”
Depending on the service, you’ll be asked to answer questions about your lifestyle, budget, favourite brands and (crucially) measurements, either on the phone or online. It’s like having your own personal shopper, but one that you get to chat to about your cut preferences and leg length while sat on the sofa in your best pizza-stained joggers.
We dug into the top seven subscription and styling services around to see just what the deal is.
Despite only launching its dedicated men’s service in 2016, Stitch Fix has already grown to have more than 3,400 stylists dotted across the US.
Charging a styling fee of $20 (which is redeemable against anything you decide to keep), you’ll be asked to fill out a style questionnaire so the ‘Fixers’ can ascertain your taste, budget and size.
After this, an assigned stylist will then package up a selection of five pieces, plus styling cards with illustrations and instructions on how to wear them. And, just like the other ‘subscription boxes’, there is no subscription element at all, and no pressure to keep the clothes, either.
With a mission to improve the confidence of men through the art of shopping, Thread uses a combination of surveys, in-house stylists and algorithms to identify the pieces that you’ll want in your wardrobe.
Over 600,000 blokes in the UK use the service to get their threads, whether that’s just off-duty outfits or something special for an occasion.
The main point of difference here is that the London-based company makes weekly suggestions of potential pieces which you then select from, rather than sending out a box of things that you might not want, making it the greenest of the lot.
If you’re the kind of tactile shopper who likes his fashion a bit more in the flesh (and just so happen to be reading this in the US) Chicago-based styling service Trunk Club is a great shout.
Aside from its online offering, which has stylists available to help you via phone, email or the Trunk Club messenger app, you also can visit one of the firm’s ‘Club Houses’.
Scattered across the states in Boston, Chicago, Charleston, Dallas, Washington DC, New York and LA, these super-sleek styling lounges – think rich, dark wooden floors, Chesterton sofas and a well-stocked bar – come complete with actual real-life stylists.
Born in 2013 out of the (now somewhat dated) idea that men don’t enjoy shopping, and named after the OG Persian courier-service, The Chapar employs a team of personal stylists to take the sting out of the whole business.
After you fill out a profile, which determines all the important things (your favourite brand, shirt fit, the cut of your jib), a stylist will call you to chat all things sartorial.
Then, as if by magic, a box of clothes will land on your doorstep. Trunks are only sent on request and postage is free, both ways, so it’s no harm, no foul if you don’t like the contents. You’re only charged for what you keep.
Amazon Prime Wardrobe
Amazon is spreading its tentacles even further and entering the world of personal styling. Well, sort of. The internet behemoth has been making moves into fashion and now is offering a new service to Prime account holders, which allows you to order clothes and try them on at home before you have to stump up the cash.
It’s a good option if you’re confident in your style and already know what you like, but not so much if you’re the kind of person who frequently forgets to return anything.
The good news is that if you keep three or four items from the box, you get 10 per cent off, going up to 20 per cent for five or more products.
Based in London’s leafy borough of Islington, Enclothed got its kick-start in life when founders Levi Young and Dana Zingher appeared on Dragon’s Den in 2015.
Fast-forward two years and this startup now has over 8,000 regular customers whose sartorial woes are being solved by a handful of dedicated personal stylists.
This is another company that doesn’t operate as a subscription service per say, rather you order a box of goodies as and when you need one. If in the unlikely event you don’t like anything in there, you have five days to send it all back.
Analysing what you return and what your keep in order to learn from its customers, Enclothed aims to achieve a 100 per cent keep rate – good news for your wardrobe, bad news for your wallet.
Oh-so-discerning Dappad marks itself out from the competition by virtue of its simple, Scandinavian style and the fact that it will work only with a small number of brands.
It’s an approach that has seen the business get glowing results from across menswear press.
Once you’ve registered, a stylist will get in touch to talk you through what’s going in your box and 10 days later it’ll arrive (postage free) with fully composed outfits that even the least confident dresser will be able to use to mix and match into a series of fail-safe looks. Oh, and you have 10 days to decide whether they’re keepers.