AN ONLINE SERVICE HERE TO HELP YOU DRESS WELL WITHOUT TRYING
We recently came across Thread, another of the fast emerging brands/services here to help us men with our personal style and clothes shopping. The success of these interesting ecommerce businesses is due to the recent boom in the menswear industry – which shows no sign of slumping anytime soon. So, onto Thread – it seems to be a simple online men’s fashion store stocking a vast selection of great brands, however the twist (and uniqueness) comes in the form of personal stylists. Each customer will be assigned a stylist who is there to pick out items of clothing they think will suit your style.
To begin the process you need to fill out a questionnaire about what garments you already own e.g. “The single-breasted overcoat is a very refined outwear option. You can wear it over anything from a suit to casual clothing, and it always guarantees a clean look”, and about your style and appearance. You get to see a street gallery showing different looks and you simply click on the ones you like. Once you’ve finished the multiple choice form you’re assigned a stylist who will give great recommendations. Our stylist for this research was Georgia Boal-Russell who sent across some great choices after 1-2 days.
The research from the stylist is very clever, with items shown with the garments that you’ve already indicated that you own and which street style image (that you liked) it is inspired by. This along with a reason such as “the dark tone of this item works well for your dark complexion.” What’s really impressive though, is how after all this research and styling there’s no fee or pressure to buy anything… although when we did it was great to see the personal touch through a handwritten message on a postcard. We sat down with Style Director Shaunie to find out more about Thread and what inspired the business model.
Tell me about the service
"Thread makes it easy for guys to dress well. You’re matched with a real personal stylist, who picks out the very best clothes for you, taking the hassle out of shopping. The stylists use proprietary technology to search through thousands of items to find the best things for each client, and offer guidance for how to put things together with items you already own. It’s all done online, and it’s free."
Who is your typical customer and how big is the market?
"The whole Thread experience is personalised to each user, so our range of customers is really broad. However, we approach dressing with the mantra of ‘style, not fashion’, so we attract thousands of guys who want to look great, but don’t have the time or inclination to go shopping at weekends, and who aren’t fussed about the latest trends, but just want to find a great capsule wardrobe of good quality items that will last for years. A huge proportion of UK men feel this way, and we currently have over 200,000 men using Thread."
Where do you find your stylists and how many do you have?
"Currently we have 10 in-house stylists and 50 freelance stylists. All of them did styling before they joined Thread; some of them worked for magazines, such as iD or GQ, some styled for online stores such as Burberry and End, some styled celebrities and musicians, and some were personal stylists in stores and boutiques, such as Gieves & Hawkes and Browns."
Do you think the future of fashion shopping is through this type of method?
"I think it’s inevitable that buying clothes will continue to move online, but at the expense of the personal interactions you get from shopping in bricks and mortar stores. I think a lot of men feel intimidated by shopping online, don’t feel comfortable making decisions on their own, and miss having a trusted professional giving them the final thumbs-up. That’s why we feel that having an online stylist pick out the best things for you gives you the benefits of a face-to-face consultation with the convenience of shopping from your computer or phone. Our stylists have really good brand knowledge of the hundreds of brands we stock, so they can also offer advice on how things fit, which is one of the hardest things about shopping online."
Do you think men still have a lot to learn in terms of fashion and beauty in comparison to women?
"I think that it’s changing. Men are starting to feel a lot more comfortable expressing themselves through what they wear, and enjoying it. Often, men just need a small amount of encouragement, but very quickly develop confidence and know-how: I have a lot of clients who came to me confessing to be totally clueless, but once I helped them to grasp the basics (such as which colours work well together, how to successfully mix and match, when to invest, things like that), they became really into it, and no longer needed any hand-holding. Most of the rules of dressing well with menswear are simple formulas, and we want to share them with men to make dressing-well less intimidating."
Which brands are the most popular on Thread?
"We have such a range of brands, so it’s hard to narrow it down, but the stylists and the clients have the same favourites. For high-street brands and value price-points, Selected Homme is great for its fuss-free, timeless aesthetic. For those with higher budgets, A.P.C, Oliver Spencer and Paul Smith are very popular. The most successful brands on Thread are those whose clothes are simple and practical, but with characterful details, and made with care from the best materials."
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