Review: It's Stitch Fix for Men vs. Trunk Club in a battle for my closet
There's a new competitor on the subscription box scene. Stitch Fix For Men launched in September, offering guys who don't like to shop, or maybe don't have much time for it, their own version of the popular Stitch Fix, which some women swear by (and others, not so much).
The idea, as I interpret it, is that technology can raise your fashion game to the level of having a personal stylist, once only a thing for celebs and rich people, but at a reasonable price (we'll get into exactly how "reasonable" it is later). Through the magic of the internet, they gather some info about you, then send you clothes that you can try on at home and keep, or not.
Since I secretly kind of want to dress like both a celebrity and a rich person, and I'm always up for claiming I don't have time for things, I was interested in trying a subscription fashion box. I don't think my style is bad really, but I could liven things up. So I tested out the new Stitch Fix for Men, as well as the old stalwart, Nordstrom-owned Trunk Club, which has been aiming to help guys improve their wardrobe for eight years now. Here's what happened:
THE STYLING PROCESS
Stitch Fix: Enter your height, weight, age, job, usual clothing sizes and choose a body type from four options, slim, average, athletic or husky (I thought I'd escaped "husky" in elementary school days of picking out JCPenney jeans, but alas). You identify brands you already like, choose preferred fits based on handy photos (skinny jeans vs. relaxed jeans, slim fit button-ups vs. regular, etc.), click on colors and patterns you like or dislike, look at photos of models in specific outfits and click the ones you'd wear, then attach your Instagram, Twitter, Linkedin and Pinterest accounts, if you want.
Trunk Club: Like Stitch Fix, you enter your height, weight, age and usual sizes, plus the brands you already wear, and add your Pinterest (optional), but then things diverge totally. You're suddenly dropped into a chat room with a live person, your stylist, who now has a name (Emma) and a face (a big 'ol smiling one). You have a conversation with this stylist, and she asks you things like work or weekend wear, if there are particular items you're looking for, how you like them to fit, and what colors and patterns to stay away from.
Winner: They both gather the same info through different methods, but I preferred Stitch Fix. I think it's easier, and probably more accurate, to just point at what you like, rather than try to describe it to someone in words, and that's coming from someone who writes for a living.
Christopher Spata | Times
Stitch Fix sends a card with some outfit ideas for each item they send you.
Stitch Fix: The clothes came neatly wrapped in butcher paper. Cool. My box contained a pair of Tom's chukka boots made of denim ($98). Interesting, but not for me. A pair of dark blue Mavi jeans in slim fit ($98), which I'd wear, but already had similar ones. A Grayers flannel shirt ($88) that I would wear if this wasn't Florida (it's like 77 degrees in February), a 7 Diamonds geometric print, short-sleeve button down ($79) that was really nice, but fit too tightly, and a grey, WESC textured button-down ($98) with an embroidered pattern in light green that I loved.
That WESC shirt was the only item I kept, but they mostly nailed my style. I'd specifically suggested that I was looking for black pants and casual sneakers, and got neither.
Trunk Club: It arrived quickly (a full two days before the Stitch Fix I ordered the same day) in a box that looked like a suitcase. Neat. Things went downhill quickly. There was a purple Life After Denim plaid shirt for $78 (I don't do plaid, or purple), a Jeremy Argyle checkered button-down for $148 (specifically told the stylist no checkered patterns) a lavender J. Press oxford for $58 (still too purple), a pair of A.G chinos in navy ($178) in a relaxed, straight leg fit (literally told the stylist which SLIM FIT style I own, and love, in this EXACT BRAND of pants, and these weren't close), and a pair of light gray Paige Japanese twill pants ($179) which were closer to the slim fit I like, but cost too much.
A gray Billy Reid henley ($105) was also way too expensive for what it was (and I later saw it online for $75). There was also a beautiful, blue oxford by Culturata ($135), but it just didn't fit my apparently "husky" body right, and I was sure I'd have Incredible Hulk-style ripped out of it if it wasn't such good quality. I only kept one pair of socks ($14) with a cool, geometric pattern on them. They did send the dark pants I'd said I was interested in, but not the black boots.
Stitch Fix: Unlike Trunk Club, Stitch Fix asks what your max price range is up front. The problem is that just because I might be willing to pay $100 for the right shirt on a rare occassion, doesn't mean I only want to see shirts in that range. The consistently high prices in my Fix made me feel like they were pushing me to my limit, rather than offering a true range. They do have a sweet deal where you get 25 percent off if you buy the whole box, which would have dropped mine from $461 to $325. The styling fee is $20 per Fix, which gets deducted if you keep anything. The individual items don't have price tags on them, which annoyed me.
Trunk Club: Unlike Stitch Fix, they at least sent me one shirt (the purple oxford for $59) that was under $80. Overall though, the items were more expensive than Stitch Fix. They're owned by Nordstrom, a high-end department store, and the prices definitely reflect that. I do subscribe to the philosophy that it's better to pay more and have a few great pieces in your wardrobe than a bunch of cheap stuff, but unless you've got some bucks, Trunk Club is going to mean very few. Same deal with their styling fee, except its $25. The items have price tags on them, which made it easier to keep track of prices.
Winner: If money is a concern, it's gotta be Stitch Fix, only because they at least offer price range options.
Image via WESC
This WESC shirt was the only item I kept from Stitch Fix.
Stitch Fix: You put everything in a pre-labeled plastic bag. It ships USPS, so you have to find a mailbox or go to the post office.
Trunk Club: Also free, but they use UPS, which means you can schedule a convenient pickup at your home or bring it to a UPS store. You send it back in the same box it came it.
Winner: Trunk Club. I don't wanna leave the house if I don't have to, and why create more waste with a box and a bag?
Stitch Fix: I liked the experience, but not necessarily more than shopping the old way. I did end up with a shirt that I love that I wouldn't necessarily have gravitated toward in a brick-and-mortar store, so there's that. I liked how they sent illustrated outfit ideas for how some of the items in my Fix might work with other stuff I already had, or could buy.
Trunk Club: I'm sure I could have taught my Trunk Club stylist what my style is over the course of another Trunk or two, but that first one was not even close. I think Trunk Club, which unlike Stitch Fix does not automatically keep sending you more trunks until you cancel, is a good service for when you know what item you're looking for specifically. Like if you need navy pants, or brown boots. Hit them up, tell them to send you three or four versions to try. That type of thing. You do get more total options with Trunk Club (10 items vs. five), and you also get to preview and veto some of the items in your trunk ahead of time, so there's more control.
Winner: I don't know if I'll use either of these services again. I actually enjoy shopping, and I tend to only buy one item at a time. I don't mind spending for quality, but since I don't have a ton of money, I like to really pore over stuff and try on lots of options before I spend. Also, if you're good at finding stuff on sale, these services are not for you. You pretty much always pay full price. If I was going to keep using them, though, I'd go with Stitch Fix. Right out of the gate, they understood my style way better, and the prices were slightly more reasonable.