As a guy, shopping for clothes can be really brutal. It’s challenging if you don’t know what to buy; it’s time-consuming; it can get expensive.
Well, ThreadLab is here to help you out.
ThreadLab is a convenient and customer-friendly clothing service that focuses on business casual and casual wear for men. It’s innovative, affordable, and efficient.
In this interview, ThreadLab founder Will Hench shares the story behind the business, what pain points the company is solving for its customers, and more.
What's the story behind ThreadLab, and what motivated you to start the business?
Will: I wrote a business plan while taking Retail Operations at NYU Stern in early 2008. The concept was never about fashion or styling. We simply wanted to use data and automation to create an online personal shopper so that personal shopping could be accessible to the masses, not just the affluent.
The idea was that with automation it would be cheap since the customer would never be required to pay a human being to do all of the manual shopping labor.
I wanted customers to have access to a hassle-free service without having to enter a store, pay a person or pay full price and have it available for all types of products- not just high end luxury fashion. This was before ShoeDazzle, Trunk Club, and some of the early popular subscription boxes.
My professor at the time, who is now an adviser to ThreadLab, thought that the idea was interesting but he wasn't sure if consumers would want to 'shop' in that manner.
In late 2011 we learned of some of the subscription boxes and Trunk Club so we started testing the services to see how they compared to our vision of ThreadLab.
In 2012 we founded the company and my brother Andrew and I started testing the service with friends and family. We ran the company out of Andrew's house in Brighton, MA for the first year.
What are the major pain points that you're aiming to solve with your business?
Will: Shopping for new clothing is Labor Intensive - we want to make the experience as fast and as easy as possible through a predictive recommendation engine that gets smarter the more you use ThreadLab .
Fit and Sizing are difficult to predict across many brands - we use feedback data to help you minimize the amount of trial and error.
Clothing can be expensive - we want to help you find quality brands and quality products at fair price points. We also want to help brands better allocate their existing excess supply.
What makes ThreadLab different than the other new clothing services for men that are out there?
Will: We want the experience to be seamless and low-touch, so we don't use salespeople or stylists. We think this is a better experience for the real anti-shopping male. It also removes a lot of the human errors from the process.
However, if a customer wants or needs to speak to a human being, we have amazing customer service, and we are available whenever you need us, similar to a Zappos level of customer service. 866-208-5322 is our toll free line.
But from what we’ve learned is that our customers love a seamless, low touch experience so that they can order new clothing fast and be done with it.
Another big difference is that because we don’t have the cost burden of paying a large payroll of human stylists, we can offer lower price points and pass savings on to our customers.
We also don’t rely on manufacturing our own clothing lines so that we can offer a wide variety of interesting brands, products and fits to our customer base.
A lot of the clothing services that are out there are designed by and for people interested in fashion or styling. This was never about fashion for us. Our team is more interested in solving a difficult challenge with data science and innovative technology. We focus on convenience, data-driven personalization and affordability.
On average, we ship within one business day of the order date - we have focused on building a proprietary inventory management system and automated fit recommendation engine so that we can get orders fulfilled extremely quickly.
Our product line is probably a little more understated, less showy and less dressy - for us it’s more about quality-made essentials and basics - and making sure we are recommending clothing that fits well.
How do you go about selecting the products for each box?
Will: ThreadLab has taken a long time building out our recommendation engine - we look at customer feedback data, profile data, sizing data, budget, brand preferences, similar customer preferences and historical purchases.
The goal is for our system to become smarter over time so we are finding customers the optimal items and providing a truly personalized experience.
What is the #1 clothing-related issue you think guys struggle with?
Will: Finding the right brands, sizes, fits for your specific body type and budget - that can be pretty time-consuming and frustrating.
We are trying to eliminate a lot of the manual work / trial-and-error that goes into shopping.
From our surveys, men spend a lot of time trying to shop for new clothing (either online or in stores) and come away frustrated by how much time and money they spent for a pretty mediocre result in terms of fit and quality.
Our goal is for ThreadLab customers to spend less time, less money, and less effort and come away with a much better result. This way they can spend their free time doing the things they truly love to do, rather than laboring through a frustrating shopping experience.
How can our readers learn more about what you're up to and connect with you online?
Will: Sign up for ThreadLab at MyThreadLab.com, and you'll receive a few emails per month about what we are up to and how are improving our service.
We are also on Facebook Twitter Instagram Pinterest and Tumblr. We will become more active on those platforms over the next few months.
Step Up Your Game
Thanks to Will for the interview!
If you’re interested in giving ThreadLab a try, Will has graciously provided a special promo code that you can use that will take $20 off your first order.
All you have to do is enter in “DAPPER20” in the Special Order Instructions (on the final page of the checkout process), and their operations team will take $20 off your order.
Also, if you're really down to look dapper, but NOT down to go shopping (you're not alone), you should do yourself a favor and check out "Doorstep Dapperness," which provides a list of 37 ways - including ThreadLab - you can have "dapperness" regularly delivered to you.
You can download your free copy of "Doorstep Dapperness: 37 Ways to Get Dapperness Regularly Delivered to Your Door" by clicking the image below: