Online clothes shopping in the UK is a growth market, but so far, there is very little that caters to the tastes of the fashionable male. With the completion of a £650k ($1m) seed round, Smithfield Case is looking to address this and create a haven for the specific shopping needs of men.
Company co-founders Jose Ojeda and Alex Valls sealed the deal with Edipresse, a publicly traded media and online content company, and the founders of Privalia, one of the leading global private sales clubs.
As part of the investment, Pierre Lamuniere, Chairman and Executive Director of Edipresse, joins Smithfield Case’s Board of Directors. Other advisors include fashion e-commerce heavyweights Hash Ladha, former Marketing & Operations Director of ASOS, and Andrew Robb, COO of farfetch.
Bringing together the extra funds with industry veterans is likely to provide the push and support that Smithfield Case needs for early growth.
Launched in February this year, Smithfield Case provides a personalised clothing service to men based on the premise that menfolk shop differently to their female counterparts.
According to the company, the men’s apparel market in the UK was worth £13.2 billion in 2011 , and while 49% of women purchased clothes or footwear online last year, only 28% of men did.
Smithfield Case sought to address this issue by providing a personalised service. Customers create an online profile that includes style and brand preferences, sizes, etc. Once they place an order, a personal stylist develops a set of looks and sizes, which are delivered in a case.
Customers can then sort through and try on the clothing at home, keep and pay for what they want and have the rest collected at a pre-arranged time, for free and without having to commit to a subscription fee. Check out the video to see more about how it all works.
“Men have been longing for a straightforward, easy approach to shopping, and we have been overwhelmed by the positive reception we’ve had to Smithfield Case in the UK,” said co-founder Jose Ojeda. “The help from our investors and advisors, who are industry veterans, and the completion of this round of funding are enabling us to continue expanding our customer base, hiring top industry talent and developing our service offering.”
Indeed the recent close of financing has enabled key fashion and technical hires for the business, including the new senior menswear buyer who joins the firm from Harrods, and the new lead developer for the site comes from Mr. and Mrs. Smith.
The idea that men require simplified services can often come across as slightly partonising, but Smithfield Case appears to have cracked that nut by coupling a service that is easier to use with a sophisticated presentation and interesting ways of matching a stylist to a customer.
If the service really takes off, no doubt there will also be women who want to try out these fancy cases for their own shopping, so the seed funding at this stage will hopefully be twinned with a lot of room for expansion.