Clothing subscription services and the future of fashion
With the rise of personalized fashion subscription services, the online shopping world has begun the shift from a product economy to a service-based model.
Fashion subscription boxes are becoming more and more popular. Shoppers already subscribe to boxes for everything from beauty to food to alcohol, so the concept of a monthly delivery of fresh clothes isn’t too far off.
There are several benefits to a fashion subscription model for shoppers and retailers alike. Consumers love subscription boxes because they feel special. Most subscription-based fashion services like StitchFix and Gwynnie Bee involve a personal stylist who selects clothing for you based on your unique tastes and body type. There’s even a personalized subscription service for lingerie, Adore Me. This experience is similar to the treatment you might receive in a brick-and-mortar store, but you’re able to access it from the comfort of your own home. In this way, subscription services for fashion have begun to fill the customer service gap traditional online shopping created.
Much like streaming services have changed the way we watch movies, clothing subscriptions aim to change the way we shop. As Christine Hunsicker, co-founder and CEO of subscription fashion company Gwynnie Bee, put it, “This is like Netflix, where customers pay to rent access to their massive movie catalog instead of buying every single movie or TV series to own.”
Just like Netflix, most services allow you to try a number of options without owning them for a monthly fee, but you can usually also purchase items you fall in love with. The idea is to build up a closet full of your favorite staples with trendy pieces that rotate in and out. And although you might think that this service is best suited for millennials, you’d be surprised at the customer range these types of services attract. My high school little sister and my nearly-70-year-old grandmother both use and love clothing subscription sites.
The main drawback subscription-based fashion companies face is “intentional returns”, the inevitable returns from their customers who are entitled to receive multiple sizes or colors and who then return the items that don’t work. These return shipping costs can add up and hurt profit margins.
Although subscription services are popular now, only time will tell if they have staying power in the market. Shopping as an industry is particularly volatile, and retailers must constantly readjust to their customers’ needs to stay relevant.