by Charlotte Beal
My husband told me he wanted to “refresh” his wardrobe. Cue the shirts cartoonishly flying out of the closet as he parsed what would go to Goodwill and what was classically hip. Now he has embarked on the procurement phase, which involves finding trusted style advice with a minimum of human interaction.
The majority of our male readers might just be nodding in recognition. (A 2007 Wharton study, “Men Buy, Women Shop,” backed up the idea that males would rather deal with an ATM than a person.) For my guy and others, even personal-shopper-by-webcam offerings like those from Hendricks Park and Trunk Club are too ripe for transmission problems and general awkwardness. And blended retail spaces like Culturefix in New York City (featuring booze, art and electronics for purchase) are a tad too social.
Instead, retailers are struggling to capture guys who are balancing online research with efficient, no-nonsense in-store interactions. Gilt MANual has been successful with sales curation by hockey player-turned-Men’s Vogue intern Sean Avery. Retailers might also be smart to build a two-tiered Genius Bar approach, with fashion experts standing in for tech dorks: an online cache of advice givers, supported by a wall of real-live helpers in-store. Notice I didn’t say sales associates wandering around offering help; Apple’s setup works because guys get to decide when and if they need help from like-minded but savvier versions of themselves.
As a side benefit of my husband’s research, I might get a personal shopper for my next landmark birthday. Sometimes even women aren’t interested in the shopping runaround.