Guys Join the ‘Get Out of Shopping’ Club

Discussion
Jun 25, 2009
George Anderson

By George Anderson

Many guys put shopping for clothes just slightly higher on their
list of things to avoid than a root canal. Still, modern mores do require
the male of the species to be dressed and there’s plenty of research to suggest
that what a man wears can affect how he is perceived by others. So where
does the shopping adverse and fashion-challenged male go for help? The answer
is Trunk Club, a new, easy-to-use online personal shopping service.

According to the website, men join Trunk Club and go through
a 15-minute video interview from their computer at work or home with
their own personal clothing expert. From there the expert goes out and finds
appropriate clothing, which is delivered for free to the member’s door. If
anything does not work for a member, he simply returns the clothing to Trunk
Club, also with free shipping. The company charges full retail for its
clothing and no other fees are paid by members.

The Trunk Club, located in Bend, Oregon, was founded by Joanna
Van Vleck. The original plan, according to TechCrunch,
was for Ms. Van Vleck to open retail outlets across the country where men
could visit for their personal shopping. An angel investor in the venture
backed out and Ms. Van Vleck, a personal stylist, turned to the web-based
model.

As to reasons why men join the Trunk Club, one member
wrote, “I’ve been living and working in Miami for about seven years and have
suffered the style consequences. Matching everything, despite the occasion,
to a pair of good looking jeans is dogma here, and more often than not, it
works well and looks good… I’m moving to NY soon and I’d like to find clothes
(and shoes!) that aren’t in every store, things that look classic, professional,
elegant, casual, and distinguished… I’ll be in a totally new and exciting
environment and need the wardrobe to match.”

Discussion Questions: Is there
a market for the Trunk Club? Do you see the potential for web video services
like Trunk Club opening up in other categories to help consumers make
purchasing decisions?

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10 Comments on "Guys Join the ‘Get Out of Shopping’ Club"


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Susan Rider
Guest
Susan Rider
11 years 10 months ago

Absolutely. Men especially–and some women–hate to shop. Matching and putting wardrobes together has long been a secret strategy of Chico’s success. Why not for men?

Max Goldberg
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

There definitely is a market for Trunk Club. As many retailers have cut back on service, shopping for clothes has become a chore, rather than an adventure. Time-strapped men are looking for ways to get the right clothes without the hassle. Trunk Club meets that need. Add free shipping both ways and you have a winning combination.

Joan Treistman
Guest
11 years 10 months ago
I think the market for the TrunkClub is small, but can be very profitable. I say the market is small because the same men who avoid shopping for clothes in stores are not likely candidates to be searching for other shopping venues. However, the man who is interested in his wardrobe and wants a convenient and effective means to shop is the target audience. That segment will buy more clothes and will pay retail for convenience. Someone described the difference between men and women when it comes to shopping in the following way. Women are the gatherers. They like to see it all and touch it all when they are in the store. You can observe similar behavior in Nieman Marcus and Target. Men conversely are hunters. If they want a shirt, they head to the shirt department, grab a shirt, buy it and leave. I think the more difficult challenge for the TrunkClub is to attract hunters and satisfy their needs. The TrunkClub has an easier time converting the men who want to see… Read more »
Marc Gordon
Guest
Marc Gordon
11 years 10 months ago

Initially this sounds like a great idea! But I can only wonder how many women are looking over the guy’s shoulders offering a differing opinion.

I would also be interested in knowing the rate of repeat business. After all, once a guy gets a new wardrobe, will he go back to the sight for the odd shirt or pair of socks?

As for me, as much as I hate clothes shopping, I would hate having to ship back a bunch of ill-fitting clothes even more. If I shop in person, at least I know how the clothes will look on me before I buy them.

Carol Spieckerman
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

The Trunk Club is a great concept…for any guy who is straight and doesn’t have a steady gal or wife. I say that half-jokingly. Don’t women weigh in (heavily) on their guy’s wardrobe choices and won’t she be the one who vetoes Trunk Club’s picks? That’s the risk I see. I would advise Trunk Club to make a nod to the gal influence factor (perhaps a few questions as to what a guy’s mate likes to see him in) in order to mitigate this. Some women like to shop; most women like to edit!

Bob Phibbs
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

I think this is a woman’s idea of what men want. I don’t see a lot of guys signing up to have a stranger, albeit an attractive woman, pick out things then send them to them sight unseen, then send them back and forth. Certainly not for married men.

Maybe that works for women’s shoes but I don’t see this as a threat to the GAP, Macy’s or any specialty store. I don’t see it as a viable service either with men. But then I’m a guy.

Steve Montgomery
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

I agree with Ms. Treistman regarding the difference in men’s and women’s approach to shopping for clothes. However, I use slightly different terminology. I refer to women as shoppers and men as buyers. Based on what we internally refer to as “grandmother research” women enjoy both the process of shopping and the ownership of the article. Men liking the having far more than the process of acquisition.

Based on the this you would expect would support that this should be a great business model, but I don’t. I foresee some men trying this, but quickly tiring of this process as well because some things won’t fit, others won’t look as good on as they do online, the process of shipping them back, waiting for a credit, etc.

Cathy Hotka
Guest
11 years 10 months ago

Yes, this is definitely a site for affluent single men. Regardless, I’m still having trouble with the mental picture here–most of the single guys I know who care about their appearance do their own shopping, and the ones who are clothing-challenged don’t seem to care what they look like. Let’s check back in with Trunk Club next year and see how it fares….

Kenneth A. Grady
Guest
Kenneth A. Grady
11 years 10 months ago

There is a market for the shopping service for guys (as there is a market for almost anything nowadays). But, I don’t think this will be a big one, and there are competitive services. Nordstrom will do a great job working with a guy (or gal) on putting together a wardrobe. I live in one of the 100 largest cities in the US, but definitely nearer the bottom than top of the list, and we have a local men’s store that will provide the same service using clothes they don’t carry as well as ones they do.

Ted Hurlbut
Guest
Ted Hurlbut
11 years 10 months ago

This may work for a small, niche market, but I don’t think it has broad appeal. I suspect that men who don’t like to shop (I’m not one of them) either prefer or are content with the women in their lives shopping for them, or simply don’t concern themselves particularly with what they are wearing. This idea sounds like taking the personal shopper concept, which appeals mostly to women, and attempting to apply it to men.

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