If you pride yourself on being a fashionable gentleman, then you understand that standing out is all in the details. The appropriate use of accessories is viewed completely different by all of us, and that’s one of the lovely things about human nature – Individualism. So when you think about the entire idea of paying for a clothing subscription, it is all about sharing collective differences and individualistic styles.
Recently I had a chance to speak with the founders of men’s accessories company Tie Society, Zac Gittens and Jake Kuczeruk , and get their perspectives on these essential and distinguishing accessories. Tie Society is one of the leaders in the growing subscription commerce industry for men’s accessories. While sharing similar views overall, their interpretations of this key style element couldn’t have been more different. Below I go in-depth with Zac and Jake to discuss their growing business, style trends, and the add on items such as cuff links, pocket squares, lapel pins, ties, and socks are what can make or break your outfit. It can determine whether you close that deal with the new client, get the girl you met off Tinder to give you a second date, or make your friends hit you with “where they do that at?”
Zac: We saw an opportunity to challenge old systems and define new rules around how guys shopped. We set out to make it easier for men to acquire the stylish items that create a mature and polished appearance. Tie Society delivers style and confidence, in a box.
Jake: We noticed a void in the market and decided to capitalize on it. Plus our team was comprised of a few guys just out of college. We were sick of dropping ~$60 every few months on a new tie from Brooks Brothers and (over a few drinks) devised a system to trade our ties amongst our friends. We figured that the tie was the main item people tend to notice, and if we trade by collection we could save a few bucks.
How Does Tie Society differentiate its self from the other Men’s Accessory subscription companies on the market?
Zac: Tie Society was the first company to offer a subscription package for menswear accessories. Since our successful launch, we have seen a number of competitors come and go, each time trying to differentiate themselves from us. Our focus is just to give our members a remarkable and stylish experience.
Jake: We have an a-la-carte approach. Users are free to pick and choose from any items in our collection, swapping an unlimited number of times each month, with no extra charges. While being a monthly-subscription service, users are free to purchase any items they like directly from us at a steep discount.
What do you see as the advantages to being a subscription commerce company compared to an ecommerce store and clothing brand?
Zac: Because our members do not have to purchase an item to wear it, they have much more freedom to experiment with their looks. As a subscription menswear company, we get interesting insight into how our members express themselves through their wardrobes. When our members are attending weddings, they choose more playful ties from brands such as Hermes or Vineyard Vines. When temperatures start to cool down, we see an instant switch from light pastels to earthtones and thicker fabrics. This type of insight is invaluable.
Jake: The number one advantage is guaranteed revenue, month-over-month. While we have our slow months just like any other retailer, the subscription model allows us to more accurately predict what type of revenue we can expect for future months and allocate our inventory, marketing, and operations budgets accordingly.
Zac: Confident, aspirational, hardworking. A true modern gentleman.
Jake: Urban male, 21-30 y.o., in a professional field, who is tech-savvy enough to actively share about his experience on social media channels. Social media is an immensely powerful tool for gaining exposure and addressing the needs and desires of your customer base. In this day and age, it’s a hell of a lot easier to get the immediate attention of a business on social media than it is via traditional email channels.
Zac: Everyone on our team gives their input on the inventory we carry. If we wouldn’t wear it, it does not get added to the collection.
Jake: There isn’t a single item in the Tie Society collection that Zac (TS CoFounder/CEO) or I wouldn’t wear personally. We take great pride in ensuring we’re catering a stylish collection and actively seek out up-and-coming menswear brands with products that can keep this trend going. I’m always a bit more inclined to promote our more…unique items. Our mustache tie bar, Brier & Moss Golightly bow tie, (skull printed) and Jegman Mobo tie (patterned to look like a circuit board), are big hits with me- but then again, that may just be the San Franciscan in me talking. Zac is a D.C. guy, born and bred, so our more traditional products tend to resonate better with him. This struggle between the traditional East Coast sensibilities and West Coast-style casual comfort is evidenced elsewhere in our business- including how we handle customer service interactions.
What is your favorite article of clothing in your Closet?
Zac: The Lionhead cufflinks. They present a great balance of confidence and subtlety
Jake: Ahh great question! Recently it’s been my Steve Yzerman Red Wings jersey (hey, it’s the playoffs- what do you expect?). Historically, I’d have to say one of my vintage tie bars, I’ve got a pretty solid collection of playful tie bars.
Zac: Great question. Historically, D.C. has been known for the drab oversized suits worn by Federal Government workers (the city’s largest employer). In the last decade, the city has gone through a wonderful renaissance. Dark suits are rapidly being replaced with khakis, colorful ties, and tie bars. The younger generation of workers have learned that they can easily express themselves through the accessories they wear while still meeting even the most conservative wardrobe guidelines.
Jake: San Francisco gets a bad rap from the perception that it’s flooded with tech industry workers who only wear startup shirts and hoodies. To me, this couldn’t be further from the truth. SF is one of the more stylish places in the nation because of how creatively those who live here have interpreted the more relaxed, business casual look.
The arts/music/counterculture influence that shaped this city is still alive and well in SF. With weather like this, layering appropriately is an absolute must, which fortunately allows more room to show off your personal style.
How do you feel accessories impact the head to toe look of your wardrobe?
Zac: Quality accessories are the final touch to a well thought out appearance, they say a lot about a man. A crisp folded pocket square shows precision and attention to detail. A flashy tie bar clipped over a simple gray tie shows refined confidence and maturity. Luxury-brand accessories are an easy way for well-dressed men to express their personality and complete their look.
Jake: Accessories are the first and main things that the public tends to notice. You can easily wear the same two suits everyday of the week without comment, but wear the same tie twice and you’re going to hear about it.
Accessories are instrumental for tying a look together and they’re the easiest way for us to express ourselves. That being said, accessorizing poorly is one of the quickest ways to ruin a great outfit.