Trunk Club Raises $11 Million to Shop for Men Who Hate the Mall

The mission to create a better way for men to shop continues with the Trunk Club, an online personal shopping service that has raised $11 million in a first round of capital.

The Chicago-based service is part of a growing number of e-commerce sites that cater specifically to men, who notoriously don’t like to shop (even if they do like to wear new or stylish clothes).

Trunk Club is a personal shopping service that will send customers a box (or trunk) full of clothes based on their preferences and needs. The mostly business casual clothes are handpicked by stylists, and then customers keep the items they like and send the rest back. Shipping is free both ways, and they only pay for what they keep.

The company is clearly on the same wave length as many other new e-commerce sites engineered to help men avoid department store dressing rooms.

J. Hilburn recently raised $5 million to expand its custom apparel clothing company, which sends representatives to visit customers to take custom measurements. Indochino also makes custom suits for men and recently raised $4 million in capital, and Bonobos raised $18.5 million to fulfill the mission of selling “better fitting pants.”

It is with Bonobos that Trunk Club’s CEO Brian Spaly is most familiar as a previous executive and co-founder; he left the company in December 2009 to run Trunk Club.

He still remains a shareholder and Trunk Club today is a major reseller of Bonobos pants, but he said he left because there’s a bigger opportunity beyond pants. “I don’t want all my clothes to be from Bonobos,” he quipped. “I want to watch football. I don’t want to walk around a mall. I’m in the heart of this revolution, and I’m very proud of it. Going to a retailer or a boutique sucks for guys.”

Spaly said Trunk Club’s customers shop with them for one of three reasons: They don’t have time, they don’t have access to the stores in their hometown, or they don’t want to go shopping.

He said men get a box full of clothes, which they can try on in front of their wife with a bottle of wine and good music playing in the background — instead of being cramped in a dressing room at a department store, feeling pressure to buy something from pushy sales people.

The company currently has 22 stylists who can handle hundreds of customers each by keeping track of a man’s preferences using software, Spaly said. The clothes are purchased at wholesale and sold at retail. He said men can order a new trunk as often or infrequently as they want, and that the first shipment typically includes 10 items for about $1,500.

To date, the company has acquired almost 4,000 customers and is hoping to increase revenues to $5 million this year from $1 million in 2010.

Investors in the round include U.S. Venture Partners, Greycroft Partners, Apex Venture Partners and Anthos Capital. Previously, the company raised less than $3 million in seed funding.


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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus