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For guys who hate shopping but still want to look good, the model used by online retailer Trunk Club (www.trunkclub.com) is pretty appealing. The Chicago-based service sends out personalized boxes of clothing from well-known brands, without membership fees or requirements to keep the pieces.
As it turns out, Washingtonians are big fans of this service. So much so that stylists from the Trunk Club visited D.C. this week to meet members for custom fittings and styling sessions. And Washington is helping Trunk Club expand beyond their core focus on casual clothing into custom suiting. Michael Barkin, head of sales Trunk Club, shared his take on menswear trends this fall, why the brand loves D.C., and how to wear plaid without looking like every plaid-wearing bro at the bar.
How are your D.C. clients different from the rest of the country?
We're based in Chicago, so we sell to guys all over the country and we do road shows. The D.C. market is interesting because it's probably a bit more of a sophisticated market for us, given all of the political surroundings. The guys there tend to dress up a little bit more, more than say San Francisco. Where that's beneficial for us is on the tailored side, you just get guys caring a bit more about wearing jackets, wearing suits. The level of dress is a bit more sophisticated than in other parts of the country.
Our team that's out there right now is on the ground selling custom suits and custom sports coats, custom trousers, shirts, high-end footwear. Our traditional business is focused on sportswear, so we'll sell a lot of denim, cotton trousers, we'll sell button-down shirts, sweaters, that sort of things. Guys in D.C. are of course wearing that kind of stuff, but we see a big focus on a tailored side.
We're expanding our market there, and always looking to work with customers there. It's one of our favorite cities to go to. One of the things we appreciate most about it is that people there respect the way they present themselves and respect image. We'd love to help with that.
How do you your customers find you?
It's mostly word of mouth. We do a little bit of online advertising, but the bulk of our customers come from word of mouth from existing customers who refer friends and colleagues.
Do you think guys in D.C. feel more comfortable in a suit?
On the weekends, our core business does really well in D.C., like sweaters, button-downs, denims. For days like Mondays and Fridays, we see a lot of those same guys wanting to wear dress trousers, a pressed button-down suit, with a really nice blazer or a suit coat instead of a more traditional suit.
What trends are you seeing for menswear this fall?
The thing that a lot of these guys have been attracted to has been this resurgence of tweed, some of these more textured fabrics that were more common in our grandparents' closets. For fall time, people are grabbing onto heavier, modern fabrications. The cuts are more modern, but a lot of the fabrics haven't changed since the '30s and '40s. The cuts and the way that people are tailoring them are shorter in length and they are tighter.
We've seen groups of five guys roll into a bar and they are all wearing some variation of a plaid blue shirt. How can dudes wear plaid and avoid looking exactly like their friends?
So the plaid shirt thing is common all over the country. We've seen it over the last two or three years. Typically, the larger the pattern of the plaid, the more casual it's going to read. The smaller and the finer the check is, the more formal it's going to be. So traditionally, guys when they wear flannel or big plaids, it's an untucked with jeans, the grungiest kind of look. The way to avoid that is dress plaid up. Try these more refined checks and plaids and wear them with a pair of trousers, throw a jacket over the top of it.
· Trunk Club [Official Site]