It’s probably not a problem that most dudes in Silicon Valley face unless they happen to be investors or bankers in San Francisco’s financial district. But believe it or not, many guys in cities like Washington, D.C., or New York actually wear ties. Often. And the pressure to debut a snazzy new tie on a regular basis in fashion-conscious cities can be tough (or so we hear).
Enter Tie Society, a startup that follows pretty much the same distribution model as Netflix, just with men’s ties instead of DVDs. The company is a year old as of this month, and is growing (among primarily East Coast) customers looking to expand their tie collections without making any big purchases.
Tie Society also represents part of a growing trend of online fashion retailers that are building brand loyalty by exchanging brick and mortar stores for speedy shipping options, and in-person assistance with online photo galleries and information. It also joins the legion of digital fashion startups like Bombfell or Trunkclub.com that are aimed specifically at men who are short on time and shopping patience, but who want to look good.
Tie Society members can choose ties from an online inventory of ties, pick a monthly plan that lets them keep several ties at their house at once (starting at $10.95 per month for 1 tie at a time, up to $49.95 for 10 ties), and wait for the ties to ship. Shipping is free, and members can exchange as many ties per month as they want. The company has a full FAQ answering all your questions, from what to do if you stain your tie (generally they can fix it for you, free of charge), to whether you can purchase ties you really like (you can, for the price listed on the site.)
CEO and co-founder Zac Gittens pointed out that ties are an easy way to add fashion and style to a guy’s outfit, and they’re pretty interchangeable. No worries about finding a perfect fit. He said their membership centers in Washington, but they have a strong user base in New York as well. And while the majority of the company’s users are between 25-40 years old, the company has seen a 72 year-old pick out ties for dates with his wife and trips to church, and a 14-year-old boy required to wear uniforms to school pick out ties to look good for class.
“It runs such a gamut,” Gittens said.
While the company participated in the 500 Startups program this summer, it actually launched about a year ago, and has seen consistent growth since then. A spokeswoman for the company said they’ve now shipped several thousand ties to more than 30 U.S. states, and holiday sales last year crashed the company’s site. Gittens said the most popular membership tier is the three ties at a time option for $19.95 per month.
And as for plans for expansion?
“We’ve started branching out into pocket squares or tie bars,” he said. “We never expected it to be as big as it is already.” Gittens said they’ll consider expansion, but are focusing on moving ties at the moment, and possible partnerships to give styling tips for when the ties arrive.