My forays into the mind of the average heterosexual male have led me to conclude that 1) they like chicken wings and boobs, 2) they want to look good and wear nice clothes, but don’t want to do the work, and 3) they don’t ever want to see a girl sitting on a toilet, under any circumstances, even if the lid is down. Brian Spaly, founder and CEO of Trunk Club and co-founder of Bonobos, validated the second theory.
“The sky might be falling but guys will still want to look good, they’ll still want nice clothes, and they’ll still want to have sex,” he tells me.
That cut-and-dry perspective on what his customers want has led Spaly to some big payoffs, including the rampant success of Bonobos, the startup he co-founded with CEO Andy Dunn. And today, his new company, Trunk Club, announced that it has raised $11 million in a Series A round of financing led by U.S. Venture Partners, with help from Greycroft Partners, Apex Venture Partners, and Anthos Capital.
The concept behind Trunk Club is pretty brilliant. Let’s say you’re a guy who’s gearing up for a raucous bachelor party in Vegas. You don’t want to show up looking like a shlub. You want to look good—you want to look like you put some effort into it. But you don’t really want to put effort into it, so you order a box of clothes and accessories from Trunk Club. You specify your tastes and style, and a box shows up at your doorstep with $1000-$2000 worth of high-end, premium clothes. You pick what you want, send back what you don’t using the free shipping label that comes with the box, and bam—you’re done.
The clothes are picked by Trunk Club’s team of fashion experts, which, interestingly enough, consists almost entirely of women.
What I find so brilliant about this model is that in some ways, it echoes the concept of the mail-in rebate. You set a price, and the onus is on the customer to actually go through the hassle of getting the savings. In this case, you send a box of clothes to a customer, and then it’s on him to take the time to send back those items that he’s not crazy about.
Spaly is pretty quick to clarify that that wasn’t his intention going into Trunk Club, though. “We don’t want to make money just because guys don’t have the gumption to send it back, that’s not what I want our business to be. You send a guy $1500 worth of clothes, he’s going to keep some of it, even if it’s just $400. That’s still a really good transaction. We set out to help guys get awesome things.”
I could see this evolving into a really cool subscription-based service—like one of those services that delivers a box of organic produce to your doorstep once a week. Spaly said the company has no plans to do this, due in part to the fact that the Trunk Club sales team works on commission. But he said that, hypothetically, if a customer did want a box of clothes delivered to his doorstep once a month, you can be sure the fashion expert will make sure that happens.
Trunk Club also doesn’t have any immediate plans to branch out to women’s clothes, though Spaly said the company has been inundated with requests from women who see their boyfriends and husbands getting a box of goodies and want in on the action too.
Spaly said that the idea for Trunk Club came from his observations that most guys don’t want to be bothered with any kind of shopping—including online shopping. During his time with Bonobos, he realized that there are “still a lot of guys who don’t want to go online and order pants. I have friends who are big earners and are thoughtful and want to support me. But they don’t go online to order Bonobos because they just don’t want to shop online.”
So who is the average Trunk Club user? It’s actually remarkably specific. There’s a fairly wide age range, according to Spaly, but the average customer is a 42-year-old partner at a law firm with two kids and a wife who also works. He has zero free time, so he’s comfortable delegating certain parts of his life out to other people.
The new funds from this round will be applied across all aspects of growing the business, including marketing, product inventory, and more.