For the founders of Lewk, the days of shopping for hours in stores are over.
Scott Kulhman and Drew Pearson have launched Lewk, their men’s apparel subscription box service, in a 4,000-square-foot space in the Land O Nod Mattress factory building next to Spyhouse Coffee Roasters in Northeast Minneapolis.
The two are looking to bank on the success of the membership model in box services like Five Four Club and Trunk Club to carve out their own part of the market. Unlike these services, Kuhlman says Lewk will differ in its higher-quality, highly curated apparel and customer service.
“We’re here to solve two age-old problems: men hate to shop and they don’t necessarily look good. How can we make it an easy process for them?” Kuhlman said.
When someone starts a Lewk profile, the process begins much like Netflix or other membership services. Users choose one of Lewk’s pre-determined looks or personas, such as “heritage” or “rock ‘n roll,” and then answer additional questions, from what fits they like to what city inspires them, to further how the service can understand them. From there, Lewk’s self-learning algorithm will respond to content that users like to fine tune what they’ll receive in monthly boxes. Users can also change their Lewk style online.
In the speculative world of fashion, the platform will be able to respond from user experience to gauge what will be popular in future boxes, rather than fall casualty to fashion blunders.
“We have the ability to test and learn way ahead of time,” Kuhlman said.
Lewk offers monthly boxes from a $79 box with two items to $399 with four, which grow from shirts and pants in the smallest box to additional outerwear and shoes in a larger box. The service also offers “on-demand” outfits that are sold as complete packages online.
The upfront costs guarantee the value of the boxes. For example, in the first box, launching Jan. 15, 2016, there will be selvedge denim jeans worth the price of the cheapest subscription. Lewk also offers free shipping and exchanges in most states.
Kulhman is also banking on a surprise factor. Subscribers don’t get to choose what will be in each box. And, in addition to a little surprise to make the monthly box more exciting, Lewk also works with European and other designers that may not have an avenue to get their clothing to American shoppers around the country, so many items and brands may be new to customers.
Another layer that sets Lewk apart from clothing subscriptions, which normally work like traditional personal shopping services, is that Lewk subscribers won’t be able to return items, though they’ll be able to exchange for size. Kuhlman said their high-quality items will be worth keeping or sharing, and if something doesn’t work out, Lewk is committed to not making the same customer service mistakes that other services have made in the past.
“We’re all customer service,” he said, referring to the Lewk’s staff of four (Pearson compares the tiny team to the Spartans of “300”).
Rather than gimmicks, traps or “churn-and-burn” methods of service, Pearson said Lewk seeks lifelong members.
“I want us always to look at giving the ability to the customers to control their own experience.”
Lewk is available nationwide at www.lewk.com
Photos by Eric Best and Lewk