What’s the best clothing subscription box?
In the hyper-competitive business of subscription boxes, it's a very personal question that will have a different answer if you are a man, woman, adult, or child.
Or if you are taller or shorter than most. Or skinnier or huskier.
You get the idea. The best clothing subscription box is the one that best suits your sense of style, body type, attire needs, and price point. No single box will solve everyone's needs. But that’s the fun thing about subscription boxes -- especially clothing subscription boxes.
Clothing subscription boxes can continue to surprise customers month-after-month by delivering new styles in just the right size, shape, and color.
So the question is a valid one, even if there is no single answer. What’s the best clothing subscription box? Read on to find out.
How Do Clothing Subscription Boxes Work?
The general concept of subscription boxes isn't difficult to grasp. The boxes bring a collection of products around a specific theme to your doorstep each month for a fee. One of the best known is the Dollar Shave Club, which offers razors, blades, and other personal products.
However, apparel is so personal, based on a combination of subjective criteria plus objective measurements, you might wonder: How do clothing subscription boxes work?
Many companies that we'd put in the running for best clothing subscription box base their offerings on a profile that you fill out before signing up to receive items.
You’ll let the company know about your sizes, fit preferences, color preferences, and other aspects of your likes and dislikes. Depending on the company, you may interact with a personal stylist, who hand selects the items for your box each period.
The box arrives, and you're free to try the items out for size, comfort, and feel. Clothing subscription boxes then advise you to keep and pay for the items you like and send the rest back.
Other types of pricing models are also possible, as the competition for the best clothing subscription box is fierce. But this is generally how the companies can account for differences in age, size, body, and likes.
The Subscription Box Phenomenon
The subscription box business is wildly diverse, reaching into numerous retail categories. Hitwise, an online research company, measures sites in six different categories: kids products, apparel, pets, lifestyle, food, and beauty.
Food subscriptions, led by meal kit companies such as Hello Fresh and Blue Apron, make up the largest segment of the business. The second largest, but slowing as of 2018, are beauty kit subscriptions.
Picking up the slack were subscription offerings featuring children and apparel. Those two categories grew 24 percent and 20 percent respectively in terms of online visits between April 2017 and April 2018, Hitwise said.
We've all probably heard commercials for the food subscription kits. What are some of the big names in the other popular subscription kit categories?
In beauty, you may have heard of Ipsy, which delivers personalized makeup. Harry’s competes with Dollar Shave Club for supremacy in razors and blades. FabFitFun curates boxes for women filled with health, fitness, and beauty products. BirchBox vies with Ipsy for attention in makeup and related products.
For children, you may start hearing about Kiwi Co., which puts together science and art projects for children up through the age of 16; Little Passports, which focuses on learning in geography, science, world cultures, and the arts; and the Owl Crate, a subscription box filled with young adult books.
All of these companies combined have driven a significant growth rate in the subscription box business. According to Forbes, the largest players in the industry generated $2.6 billion in sales in 2016, up from just $57 million a few years earlier.
With that growth, is there any wonder that people clamor to understand who provides the best clothing subscription box?
Pricing: Are They Worth It?
Since most clothing subscription boxes allow you to keep only what you like, and send the rest back, it is difficult to compare the bottom line.
In the same vein, many of the boxes have unique themes. For instance, some specialize in socks, others in children's clothes, others focus on larger sizes, others on men or women. The price of clothes, therefore, is going to vary.
We can give you a taste, however, of the upfront recurring investment. We'll get more specific later as we review individual offers to find the best clothing subscription box of all.
Subscription/membership costs vary depending on the particular business model. Companies like Frank & Oak and Stitch Fix, for example, charge styling fees of $20 to $25 on each box of clothing you receive.
But you can choose the frequency of shipments and skip some months. You’ll pay extra for the clothes to keep. If you keep nothing, you’re still on the hook for the styling fee. If you do purchase clothes, you’ll get credit for the fee.
Others charge monthly recurring fees. Those costs typically fall in a range of between $30 and $100. We did find one service that went higher, with a monthly cost of $160.
As you think about which is the best clothing subscription box for you, keep budget considerations squarely in mind.
How We're Helping You Choose the Best Clothing Subscription Box
We’ve established by now that clothing subscription boxes are big business. You will find plenty to choose from and might even feel a little surrounded by their ads and offers. Clothing subscription boxes, for example, seem to have an affinity for advertising on podcasts.
To understand the market, we looked for articles and recommendations in mainstream publications, such as Business Insider, Real Simple, Glamour Magazine, USA Today, Forbes, CNBC, and others.
Some of the articles included clothing in their reviews of the overall subscription box business, which includes many exciting items.
To supplement, we also explored market research sites such as Hitwise and articles in Pitchbook to understand the psychology behind subscription boxes. And, of course, to create a list that will allow you to choose the best subscription clothing box, we did a deep dive into each individual site.
Within our list, we’re sure you’ll find a winner.
The 9 Best Clothing Subscription Boxes
There's something for everyone. To accommodate special needs such as workout attire or even to fill perennial needs to accessory items such as socks -- these boxes can cover your every clothing need.
What’s the best clothing subscription box? Unless we have missed the mark, you are about to find out.
1. Get your fix
Consider Stitch Fix a bit of a pioneer in the search for the best clothing subscription box. Based in San Francisco, Stitch Fix offers clothing selections for men and women.
Interestingly, the company does not fashion itself a seller of clothing. Instead, they say they are a "styling company," based on their way of doing business.
Members fill out an extensive style profile and are matched with personal stylists who select items for your boxes. The styling fee is $20 per box, which is credited toward whatever you decide to purchase and keep.
You choose your preferred frequency of shipment. Prices for individual times cover a wide range, from $20 to $500. Stitch Fix is available in every state.
2. In the trunk
The skyrocketing popularity of clothing subscription boxes got the attention of legacy retailers such as Nordstrom. Trunk Club is a wholly owned Nordstrom subsidiary that delivers Nordstrom clothing to both men and women.
Trunk Club uses a model that's similar to Stitch Fix. You pay a $25 per box styling fee, then work with a stylist to communicate your tastes and sense of style. The fee is credited toward whatever clothes you decide to keep. Clothes range between $40 and $300.
Customers of Trunk Club can converse with stylists as they are building a box. So you can make adjustments and get the chance to give the final okay before anything is shipped.
One big difference: You can, but are not required to, order at a specific interval. Order whenever you like.
3. Bombfellows, unite
You don’t have to dig too deeply to find a service devoted to those of us who may need the most help. Yes, I’m talking about fashion-challenged men. Bombfell positions itself as just such a service. It follows the same model as Stitch Fix and Trunk Club and focuses on men’s casual wear.
Customers work with a personal stylist for a $20 fee. Based on that interaction, you will start to receive boxes with suggested items that you can keep or send back.
You'll initially be signed up for monthly boxes. But you can adjust back to receiving a box every two or three months. The average price point for Bombfell clothing is about $85 to $95.
4. From across the pond
The London Sock Co. offers a unique variation on the subscription clothing box phenomenon. It’s called the Sock Club. And unlike Fight Club, you can -- and should -- talk about Sock Club. Everybody needs steady supplies of new socks.
In the United Kingdom, Sock Club members choose between one, two, or three pairs of socks to be delivered monthly. Outside the UK, you choose between three, six, and nine pairs. Pause or cancel your subscription at any time if you think your sock drawer is starting to overflow.
Boxes start at $45 to $50. Sorry ladies. The LSC specializes in men’s luxury socks only.
5. Walk the runway
While London Sock Co. focuses on men, other subscription boxes align themselves to the unique needs of women. Sometimes you need that extra special piece for a special event, but do not anticipate needing to wear the item again for an extended period.
For this, there is Rent the Runway. As the name suggests, Rent the Runway is a membership clothing service that allows women to rent the clothes they need.
Perhaps you just want to refresh your wardrobe or wish to wear new clothes all the time. Either is possible.
Plans start at $89 or $159. You receive either four items for the month or four items on rotation. You can choose from 350 to 500 brands, and the choices include apparel and accessories.
6. Something for everyone
Clothing needs in brick-and-mortar stores are widely varied, so why shouldn’t they also be in the best clothing subscription box business?
Dia&Co is a personal stylist-based subscription service geared toward women seeking the best in plus sizes -- sizes from 14 through 32.
Like the other subscription boxes, Dia&Co encourages you to try the clothes on and keep only what you like. It means you will be able to make good choices without the headaches of searching the racks and going in and out of the dressing rooms.
You will get charged a $20 styling fee for every box. You pay for only the clothes you keep. Frequency of shipments can be set on your own accord, or you can receive them semi-monthly, monthly, or bi-monthly. Dia&Co also allows you to skip a box or adjust the frequency at any time.
7. Serving your wants and needs
One of the significant advantages of clothing subscription boxes is convenience. Who has time to shop? That's the theory behind Wantable, another personal styling service. Wantable provides fashion and fitness clothes for women, and fitness clothes for men.
You start Wantable with a quiz that gives the company the ideas they need to serve you best. You'll also be answering questions about your budget so that the box comes geared toward your financial needs.
After you take the quiz, you place your order which essentially signs you up for a monthly subscription. Members can change their frequency at any time. As always, keep and pay for only what you like, but send the rest back.
Clothing typically runs between $40 and $100, depending on whether you are a man or woman and buying for style or fitness.
8. Working it out
Nowhere is it written that subscription boxes must only be used for elegant or even business casual wear. ArmourBox is a candidate for best clothing subscription box on creativity alone. It will bring you workout clothing, both for performance and for fashion, straight to your door.
Working on a similar model, you first give a stylist your preferences and workout habits. You’ll then start receiving between 4 and 6 pieces at your selected frequency between 30, 60, and 90 days.
Unlike other services, ArmourBox does not require a styling fee. The only things that will cost you are the items you decide to keep.
One important distinction with the ArmourBox in comparison to the other clothing subscription boxes concerns the try-on period. You are encouraged to try the items on, to make sure they fit.
However, do not go for a workout. Otherwise, you will by default have bought your items. Socks, shirts, shorts, hats, even shoes -- the full UA lineup is part of the program.
9. For the kids
If it's a growing category in retail, it's never very long before Wal-mart starts paying attention. The nation's largest retailer is now also in the business of clothing subscription boxes, with its new service tailored specifically for the young, "in crowd."
Kid Box delivers clothes for babies, girls, and boys, but does not require a styling fee. You fill out a quiz delving into your likes and dislikes, sizes and fits, and Wal-mart does the rest. KidBox will send up to 6 boxes a year at an average cost of about $45 to $55.
You pay upfront, but if you don't keep any clothes, your money is refunded. Wal-mart indicates that if you purchase the entire box of clothes, you can save up to 50 percent off of each item. The clothes are drawn from among 160-plus brands.
An added bonus: Kid Box makes a donation to charity for every box purchased. The stated goal is to provide clothing to one million children in need.
Dressed to Impress
Left to our own choices, as avid runners, we would, of course, opt for ArmourBox. But that’s based solely on personal preference. We spend more time running than we do almost anything else -- except sleeping.
And that’s the point. Selecting the best subscription clothing box is a highly personal matter and will depend on where you are in your life. You want the best clothes to impress in whatever you are doing.
To do that, almost no matter who you are, you need help. So our preference leans strongly in favor of the clothing subscription boxes that pair you up with a personal stylist. It may not be a perfect match right off the bat, but between trial and error, and the insights data can provide, you’ll get the best of both worlds.
Given that, why not choose the best known? We get our fix from Stitch Fix.
Which one will you choose? Have you tried any of the above? Let us know in the comments!