Are “Forced” Clothing Subscription Services Actually Helping Men Shop?

Two things are almost universally true about men:  we are confused and lazy shoppers.  I say we for a reason, because I absolutely include myself.  I’m always looking for ways to make shopping as easy as possible.  Tools like Amazon’s one-click everything makes it almost TOO easy, especially during late night shopping sprees, two Manhattans in.  You know it’s a bad sign when those Prime boxes show up two days later and you’re REALLY not sure what’s inside.

So the idea of a subscription shopping service is something that should appeal to me.  They promise to help do the complicated work of finding new items that will push your style forward, without having to strain your brain.  And it seems like a ton of startups are thinking the same thing, given the rise of subscription shopping services catering to men.  There are literally dozens of options, ranging from:

Most of these services have a few things in common or have a few variations:

  • You fill out a profile online and indicate your style preferences.
  • In most cases, a stylist will select items based on your preference for your next shipment.
  • You receive a shipment of items, some of which you'll like, some you won't.

Now, here’s where the services can differ.  Depending on the model, some of these services send a package every month (or two, or three) as long as you’re subscribed.  Which sounds very convenient, right?  Clothes come directly to you, hand selected, by people who are better at styling than any of us.  Here’s where it gets tricky:

What if I don’t need new items every single month?

Most of these services offer free returns, but some don’t make it a part of their core service.  Even still, why would I want these items forced upon me and lead myself into the hassle of the returns process when I don’t need it?  Us lazy guys don’t want to do work when we don’t have to.

Many of these services, like the accessories services, assume that every man needs a new pair of socks or a new tie every month.  Does every man need 12 new pairs of socks or ties every year?  What’s happening to their old ties and socks?  Are they made of tissue paper, dissolving if you sweat on them?

The shaving and hygiene services make a ton of sense to me.  You’re going to shave every month and need new razors.  You’re going to smell every month and need deodorant.  And according to one of Dollar Shave Club’s products,  you’re going to wipe every month.

On the clothing side, Trunk Club seems to have the perfect model - which is probably why Nordstrom bought them for a few hundred million dollars.  They ship you a new trunk of clothes only when you ask for it.  So that way you get new items when you need it, not forced upon you, and you can help guide the stylist as to what you’re needing.  Bombfell also smartly lets you delay or skip shipments.  But these two are leaders for a reason, and other subscription clothing services should follow their lead.  Especially if they want to not only get but keep those lazy males like me.

P.S. - one of the driving forces behind Fittery is to make shopping as easy and pain-free as possible while delivering perfectly fitting clothes to you.  Sign up to hear more!