We've come a long way from the days of paging through dictionary-size mail-order catalogs in search of that perfect pair of selvage jeans. Thanks to the global 24-hour shopping mall known as the Internet, that North Face Purple Label duck camo vest available only in Japan can be yours with the click of a mouse. Today's guys can exhaustively research products on menswear blogs like A Continuous Lean, then hop over to a Gilt Man flash sale to snag their discoveries at buyers' prices. And now a new contender called Trunk Club claims that it can make men's online shopping even easier.
So what do you need to know before firing up the webcam?
1. Technophobes shouldn't fear the service. One of the company's 10 stylists—who've been plucked from companies such as Banana Republic, Tom James, and BCBG—will schedule a free consultation via Skype or phone to learn about your tastes, lifestyle, and current wardrobe.
2. There's no commitment to buy. A stylist chooses items from Trunk Club's stock, and a few days later the selections arrive via FedEx. Then you can try on the clothes during a Skype video session with the consultant, who offers feedback on fit and colors. What you don't want you can send back, free of charge; pay for what you keep.
3. The clothes are from top brands. The company's fashion crew curates select stock—shoes, belts, T-shirts, button-downs, jeans, jackets, and suits—from designers such as Rogan, John Varvatos, Ben Sherman, and Jack Spade.
4. The consultation is not a major time drain. "We can redo a guy's wardrobe head-to-toe in an hour," says Brian Spaly, 33, Trunk Club's CEO. "There are a lot of guys who know what they want and are really stylish, but they just don't have time to get online once a day and see if that flash sale is going to be in their size. "The Internet has made it a lot easier for guys to get clothes, but it hasn't made it easier for guys who are really busy."
5. Trunk Club also has a brick-and-mortar location. Clients living in or passing through Chicago, the home of Trunk Club's offices, can stop by for old-fashioned, in-person fitting and styling. Spaly moved the headquarters from Bend, Oregon, to the livelier climes of the Windy City. "What we thought our guy wanted was honest, open, unthreatening advice, and we thought that was a Chicago ethic," Spaly says. "It's a real world-class city, but it's not an exclusive place."
Trunk Club 311 W. Superior St., Chicago; trunkclub.com
by Christopher Ross