Behind the Scenes at Trunk Club in DC

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Trunk-Club-dressing-areaMenswear styling service Trunk Club has been quietly building out a physical presence across the United States to complement its online subscription offering. Their expansion includes a clubhouse in Washington, DC, where Modern Fellows caught up with their team.

Founded in 2009 by Bonobos co-founder Brian Spaly and acquired by Nordstrom in the summer of 2014, the company began opening studios with their home base in Chicago.


Trunk Club, an alternative to a company like Stitch Fix, arrived in DC in March 2014, taking up residence on the seventh floor of an unassuming office building at 525 9th Street NW next door to a Shake Shack in Gallery Place.


The studio is part office, part warehouse and part fitting room. It houses a small army of Trunk Club’s DC-based stylists while rows of high-end menswear are stacked in a dedicated space in back.


For customers, though, the main feature of the studio is a series of fitting and lounge areas designed by select Trunk Club partners. In DC that includes spaces from Billy Reid and Gladson.


Allison Smith, director of sales for Trunk Club’s Washington, D.C. Studio, provided a tour and some background on its operations.

The process? Make an appointment online via Trunk Club’s website and come in to meet your stylist, who will have hand-picked a series of pieces — everything from button downs, knits and jeans to watches, shoes and off the rack suits — depending on the preferences and price points you convey to your stylist.


In addition, the company maintains their own made-to-measure service. Fittings are taken in-house via the same appointment process, and stylists help clients comb through reams of fabric from mills in Italy and the United States. The clothing is then manufactured in Asia and delivered back to the customer in about 6 weeks.  Custom shirts begin at $240, jackets at $960 and suits at $1290.


On a daily basis, Trunk Club averages about 25 fittings and consulting sessions with guys.

The studio also serves as a gathering place for happy hours, wedding fittings and a slew of assorted characters, including local ball players. (Washington Capitals and Redskins players, Allison said, will come in and reserve these spaces for fittings with teammates and friends.)


Trunk Club’s pitch is — essentially — curated quality for busy professionals, and they are willing to bet that busy professionals will pay full retail for the experience.

Its main competitor is Stitch Fix, a similar personal styling service founded in 2011 by Katrina Lake and Erin Flynn that went public in 2017. (Read more in Modern Fellows’ review of Stitch Fix and see why I returned everything in the box.)

The clothes themselves are more STAG Austin than Nordstrom Rack, and the company takes pride at having a minimal amount of overlapping SKUs with their larger, more mainstream parent.


Their website lists brands such as AG, Ben Sherman, Bespoken, Billy Reid, BonobosFidelity, Life/After/Denim, Maximum Henry, Oak Street Bootmakers and Theory as examples of those that you might find in your trunk or at a clubhouse.  Others, like Richmond-based Ledbury in DC and To Boot New York were in-stock at the DC clubhouse.


Those brands come at a cost. Trunk Club lists a range of prices on its website as follows: “Jeans are $170–$250 per pair, casual shirts are $100–$200 each, and sweaters are $100–$300 each.” Definitely not bargain basement pricing.


The real value is in having personalized recommendations from Trunk Club stylists.

And while it might be nice to have those recommendations arrive in a box each month at your home, there is something to be said for being able to go meet your stylist in person and try on a range of clothing at one of their clubhouses.

About Jake

Jake is an expert on men’s style and fashion based in Washington, DC. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs and innovative clothing and lifestyle brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. He has published hundreds of articles on style and apparel, and regularly interviews small business CEOs and startup founders about industry trends. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine.

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