Why Trunk Club will be key to Nordstrom's tech strategy

Written by Adam Calica
Published on Aug. 02, 2014
Why Trunk Club will be key to Nordstrom's tech strategy

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Both Brian Spaly, CEO of men’s e-commerce platform Trunk Club, and Nordstrom have confirmed reports that the Seattle-based retail giant has bought Trunk Club. Though neither party confirmed an amount for the deal, Recode named a $350 million price tag.

Trunk Club has a team of about 500, 250 of which are stylists that help outfit men nationally via email and in Chicago, Dallas and DC via brick-and-mortar stores (LA and New York stores are soon to follow). These stylists, and the tech platform through which they work, are the key to Trunk Club’s hold on its user base because these stylists make tasteful fashion decisions for customers and give them access to over 100 menswear brands in just one membership-free "trunk." Once these “urban professionals” fall in love with Trunk Club, these men are loyal customers forever.

Trunk Club's tech platform, not to mention their loyal customers, are a huge value-add as Nordstrom looks to stay digitally relevant. This isn’t the first fashion tech acquisition for Nordstrom: in 2011, Nordstrom acquired Los Angeles-based flash sales platform HauteLook. Now HauteLook plays a massive role in Nordstrom Rack’s sales made via mobile. Nordstrom has also invested in men’s apparel company Bonobos, which Spaly founded in 2007 with a Stanford classmate

It was an invite from Anthos Capital that caused Spaly to jump on board with Trunk Club in 2009. Spaly quickly made his mark on Trunk Club: he relocated the company to Chicago, scrapped the Skype interactions between men and stylists for e-mail and phone connections instead and then opened up a storefront for styling appointments. 

Trunk Club has raised over $12 million in the past four years from investors such as Greycroft and Apex, plus an undisclosed funding amount last summer. Now, the company has about 200 employees in Chicago and is quickly growing: Trunk Club is currently looking to hire more engineers, operations associates and stylists to its team. Spaly told The New York Times that he is expecting Trunk Club to generate just over $100 million in revenue this year. Spaly and other Trunk Club execs like COO Rob Chesney and CFO Kevin Price will stay in leadership roles and will keep the company based here in Chicago.

“For nearly five years, we’ve been on a journey to simplify and personalize the shopping experience for men,” Spaly wrote in a blog post about the acquisition. “Today represents our next step in that journey.”

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