Trunk Club Sold To Nordstrom's

Glenn Brock

Trunk Club is cashing out in a potentially huge way.

The online haberdashery has been purchased by Nordstroms for an undisclosed amount. Considering Trunk Club's earnings are in excess of $100 million during the last fiscal year, the purchase price has to be stratospheric.

Trunk Club, a 5-year-old online service, provides gentlemen with a way to buy upper-end clothing with a minimum of shopping. The online company was founded by Brian Spaly, formerly a co-founder of Bonobos, according to Tech Crunch. The concept of Trunk Club is such: for a fee, you are contacted by a stylist, who interviews you gaining clues about your style, likes, dislikes, and sizes. Soon after, you receive a trunk, or box, shipped free of charge, with clothes and other items that are supposed to match you and the information you gave. You keep what you want, send the rest back within 10 days, and are only charged for what you keep.

The design is to provide gentlemen with access to clothing without the mall experience. It's a dream come true for the man on the go... or is it?

Thought the initial concept of Trunk Club was to make clothes shopping easy and convenient for their clients, one truth came about: sometimes, you are going to need a physical store to attend to some of your needs. This is where Nordstrom's comes in.

Trunk Club is constantly running into alteration and supply problems. Trunk Club carries more than 100 lines, but are constantly running out of items. And, if something needs tailored, the customer would either have to find a tailor nearby or send it back for alterations. Now, with Nordstrom's buying Trunk Club outright, these things may possibly change, according to Crain's Chicago Business.

Nordstrom's, which already bought out Spaly's co-founded Bonobos, could offer Trunk Club members not only tailoring services, Nordstrom's could also offer a wider selection of clothing lines, and the opportunity to return items to a Nordstrom's store instead of having to ship items back.

Though recent internet-store mergers have not done so well for either party (Time-Warner and AOL, Sears, and Land's End), Trunk Club's experience shows the internet isn't enough. A true "multi-channel" strategy -- to use one of retailing's hottest buzzwords -- must include stores. Apple's example of a strong internet and physical store presences allows alternatives for customers. With Nordstrom's acquisition of Trunk Club, that step comes closer to reality.

And the sharp-dressed man has more options to stay happy and in style.