If you’re ready to be professionally outfitted, you’ve got a number of choices available to you these days.
You could visit or place an order with a traditional brick and mortar store and their professional staff of sales associates and tailors, or, a quick search online will reveal many new options for subscription boxes. These are usually monthly subscriptions where you are sent a selection of clothes based on preferences you have stated, but are free to send any back that you don’t like.
It’s easy to see the appeal of such services – they’re very convenient when you can order with a few clicks on your screen. But, how do they stack up against using a traditional store and experienced tailor? When you’re in a professional role and need to look your best, will the benefits of a tailor outweigh the convenience of a subscription box? Let’s take a look:
Human vs. algorithm
To begin with, you need to look at the mechanism by which your clothing selections are made. A professional tailor is a highly trained human being. They take precise measurements, talk to the client and gain a good understanding of what that client is actually looking for. Their professional eye can size up at a glance the sorts of ensembles that will look good on their client.
There are some obvious pros for talking with an experienced person. You can go into detail and the store’s staff will be able to make suggestions based upon their vast knowledge of styling. They can ask questions naturally and you can have a normal conversation. Though it seems like a con is potentially the time that it might take – after all, you have to visit the store to get your tailored clothing as opposed to the quick convenience of a subscription box – in reality, your boxed clothing may need alterations or not even fit at all, in which case it can take far longer to get a satisfactory outcome.
By contrast, a monthly subscription box is operated by an algorithm. This is a piece of computer code or “artificial intelligence” that is created to understand and respond to user inputs. Usually, you will be asked a series of questions and the algorithm will build a profile of your preferences based on your answers. This information is then used to select the clothing that will be included in your monthly box.
The pros for taking this approach are that it’s quick and easy. Your first order can be on its way within a few minutes. On the other hand, an algorithm is limited in terms of knowledge. They either work exactly as programmed, or in some cases, they are capable of “machine learning” where they gain knowledge over time based on the responses they get. This means that they don’t get the nuance that is involved with a human-to-human conversation.
Remember, a subscription box is designed to be a “one to many” approach. They rely on getting large numbers of subscribers to stay in business. This will always mean that service is less personal, particularly when compared to the one-to-one approach of a professional tailor.Personal human touch, or programmed computer algorithm? How your neighborhood clothing store stacks up against online clothing delivery services. Click To Tweet
The issue of returns
When you work with a professional tailor, you know exactly what you’re getting. A tailor’s commitment to high-quality work means that they’re going to ensure that everything is as you specify and is finished to perfection. This is taken very seriously – tailors work hard to ensure that you’re delivered what you expect the first time every time.
By contrast, the monthly subscription box industry has a high rate of returns on clothing. Algorithms just can’t always replace a human touch when it comes to understanding preferences! Part of the convenience is being able to return what you don’t want to keep, however, it’s also common that people don’t make the return, even if they’d like to, because it’s an extra to-do on their very large list.
With a subscription box, you’re getting a set of clothing every month and it may be a lot more than you’d normally buy. If this is compounded by not returning things due to the inconvenience of doing so, you can easily end up spending more than you intended and having a wardrobe full of items you don’t wear.
What about quality?
When you shop with an established store interested in a relationship to assist you with your wardrobe needs, quality of workmanship and materials is always a high priority. In fact, most good tailors will adjust your purchases until you are satisfied. You can expect top quality materials and a cut that is made to fit you.
Subscription boxes can be a mixed bag in terms of quality. Some common complaints are that an item seemed “cheaply made” or that it simply didn’t fit how the receiver would expect it to. Overall, subscription box businesses need to source their products as cost-effectively as possible in order to make a profit, but sometimes this means a compromise on quality.
When you talk about the fit of the clothes, there is no comparison. A bespoke suit, made for your own body is always going to look the best. You might look good in clothes that come from a subscription box, but it’s not the same thing.
A complaint that box subscribers have had is that the value of what they are receiving is often unclear to them. At your tailor, you will know exactly what each individual item costs and its quality, whereas you don’t always know when you have a boxful of items. If the quality is not up to par, there’s a chance it was made very cheaply and is simply not good value.
What you need vs. regular delivery
How many clothes do you really need? There’s a common risk of over-buying with subscription boxes, which just doesn’t happen when you visit a tailor. You would usually go to the tailor and get precisely what you need, then not visit them again until you actually need something else.
Many people are looking to be more minimalist now with less wastage, which supports buying fewer things that are of better quality. This is much harder to do if you’ve got a new box of clothes arriving every month.
It’s worth comparing the costs too. Yes, well-made clothing from a tailor is not cheap, but it’s made to last. On the other hand, with a subscription box you pay out every month and may end up with many clothes that are not made well. Another complaint of subscription boxes is that users have found them difficult to cancel. So, if you compare both over the longer time, you can easily end up paying much more for the subscription box, but not getting as much value from it.
When you’re weighing up the pros and cons of a clothing subscription vs. seeing a professional in-store team, you should also consider the years of experience and reputation a good tailor and salesperson brings to their work. This simply cannot be replaced by an algorithm, no matter how many lines of code are written.
Subscription boxes are handy for people who are short on time and want to be able to order their clothing quickly. On the other hand, you can’t be sure you’ll get items that suit you and returning them can be a nuisance.
A store and their tailor will cost you a bit more initially, but you can get exactly what you need, made with quality so that it lasts. Not to mention the relationship you’ve developed to assist you with your wardrobe or emergencies, in the future. Wouldn’t this be a better decision for you in the long run?