Online shopping continues to rise in popularity, but it’s still tough to know if the items you pick out on a website will work as an outfit in real life. New startup Boon+Gable hopes to change that by sending a personal shopper to your house.
Startups like StitchFix and Le Tote act as virtual personal shoppers, sending you recommended items through the mail on a monthly basis. But these fashion clubs can miss a key part of the process: they don’t know you up close.
Boon+Gable is very similar to Trunk Club, which also sends a personal shopper to your home if you live in DC, LA, Chicago or Dallas. Everyone else gets a virtual shopper that helps make recommendations on the website.
All of these fashion clubs virtually work the same way. You fill out a profile, give them your size and they send you stuff to try. But I’d never tried one of them, preferring instead to go to Pinterest for ideas and then picking things out for myself at the mall or various online websites. After all, I know myself, my body shape and what I like best – and I can send stuff back if it doesn’t work out.
But Boon+Gable offered an experience and I thought why not? Maybe I’ll learn something.
Next thing I knew a six-foot tall Finnish model named Kiia showed up at my apartment with bags filled to the brim of things she wanted me to try.
Kiia explained the process, went through my closet and then made me raise my right hand and swear I would try all the things she brought, even if I didn’t think they would work. Lucky for her I was a good sport this day.
She then looked through my closet and asked me to pull out any items I was not sure how to work with. I pulled out a gorgeous sea green dress with kimono sleeves I never wear just to test her skills and a vintage (possibly 60s) white lace dress that I haven’t worn since a friend pointed out it made me look like I was getting married.
Kiia threw a bunch of fun clothes my way with fringes, floral prints and faux suede. I tried all of them on and she gave me a thumbs up or down. “I don’t like this one for you,” she’d say. Or “What do you think? You could wear it on a night out!”
It felt like a good girlfriend helping me shop – albeit with an ulterior motive to sell me something. But Kiia seemed pretty honest with me on most outfits, confirming what I already knew worked, or not, with my body.
Boon+Gable’s stylists come free and you can schedule them for a visit every six weeks or so. The service works on the premise that your stylist’s recommendations will get better each time they visit and that you’ll get to try things you never would pick out for yourself. At the end of it, you “keep what you love” – meaning you can buy it at a 15 percent markup.
Ultimately most of the outfits Kiia brought weren’t for me, but I did end up buying a reasonably priced black jacket I could wear either day or night. I also fell for some $250 open-toed booties with awesome zippers on each side, but that was a bit more than I was willing to fork over for them (especially with the markup).
Any smart person will see the gaping hole in this service at this point. It would be very easy for a customer to just use Boon+Gable for some fashionable ideas, note the style, size and brand of something they tried on and liked and then search for the cheaper version online after the stylist leaves.
There are also a lot of these fashion clubs out there already. Maybe there are that many people in need of advice on how to dress themselves, but there are already plenty of magazines, Pinterest boards and friends to help here, as well.
Would I use this service again? I don’t think so. I know myself and what works for me best, but I did like having someone familiar with the fashion industry give me tips and advice, and it’s always useful to get a second opinion if you aren’t sure about something.