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Frank & Oak rescues men from perils of ‘shop til you drop’

My Dad does not like to shop. Twice a year, he visits a personal shopper at a department store to round out his closet and will not enter a clothing store for the next six months unless under duress. He is not alone, which is why a number of online clothing services for men have cropped up over the past year or so.

Frank & Oak, which designs, manufactures, and distributes its line of men’s shirts and accessories, has raised $5 million to dress guys like my Dad, who would rather be kayaking.

Once granted free membership, men answer a series of questions about their style preferences. They can then shop through Frank & Oak’s inventory and receive personalized recommendations. Each month, they receive a feed with new collection items and curated suggestions of what to buy.

The founders know that some male shoppers find all the choice overwhelming and just want someone to pick for them. At the same time, they won’t wear things that don’t feel right. My father is not about to wear a pair of black skinny jeans just because they show up on his doorstep.

“Our mission is to make shopping incredibly easy for men,” said CEO Ethan Song. “Going into stores and being faced with endless options is not just inconvenient, it’s confusing. At Frank & Oak, we don’t overwhelm you with endless options; we show you a handful of carefully selected styles that we know you’re going to like.”

Every month, the team presents a new collection to its members. It has direct contact with its consumers and can alter its shopping experience accordingly. This structure also cuts out the middlemen, making the clothing affordable without sacrificing quality. Items average at $50.

Frank & Oak launched in February 2012 and currently has 35 employees based in Montreal Canada. This first round of investment was led by Lightbank, with participation from BDMI and Rho Canada Ventures. It will go toward expanding the range of clothing and products offered, as well as producing more clothing to widen the membership capacity.

An array of other services out there seek to make men’s shopping as painless as possible. Trunkclub offers a personal stylist service that sources high-end clothing especially for the user. It can be pricey and does not manufacture its own line. OutfitEZ is a monthly subscription service that sends precurated boxes based on a selected profile, such as ‘Tomorrow’s Boss’ which is described as “Business Casual with confidence” or ‘Rugged Urban.’ Bombfell sends one item every month, at a regular price of $69.

Frank & Oak is part of a shift toward vertically integrated e-commerce companies that can react quickly to what their customers want. Although I am not sure how they would respond to my Dad’s love of souvenir sweatshirts.

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