Dallas Men’s E-Retailer Need Launches With “Curated” Collection
Dallas entrepreneur Matt Alexander wants to make it easier for men to shop better.
So, he’s launched the e-retailer Need, which he says cuts through Web’s retail clutter and offers a “curated” selection of men’s clothing and accessories to appeal to a discerning customer.
“There are hundreds of millions of dollars in the men’s wear industry but they don’t enjoy shopping,” Alexander says. “We’re exploring new ways to get men to be active in the retail world.”
Need will feature a new collection each month, based upon a theme. For November, that theme is “Open Season,” with clothes and accessories—rugged boots, a backpack—that Alexander feels illustrates the onset of fall.
In addition to fewer items being sold, the main distinction between Need and other fashion e-commerce sites is that all of its products are offered at the full retail price. Need takes a cut of each sale.
“We don’t deal with flash sales,” Alexander says. “There’s a stigma around e-commerce in the fashion world. Flash sales are perceived as a race to the bottom in terms of pricing and value.”
Fashion e-retail and online styling is somewhat of a crowded, but diverse market. While some sites like Gilt and JackThreads offer couture names at reduced prices, other sites such as Keaton Row, which raised $1.6 million in venture capital in September, serve as portals for women to become or use personal stylists.
In some ways, Need also acts like a personal stylist, one with a slightly sarcastic, slightly British persona. In advertising a Filson’s “Weekender” jacket for $320, Need proclaims: “Not to harp on about this, but tatty fleeces sporting your alma mater’s logo are not sufficient or suitable substitutes for proper outerwear. Not even in the slightest.”
The Britishisms scattered throughout the copy reflect Alexander—the son of an English father and American mother—who grew up in London. Alexander traveled to Galveston each summer to visit his maternal family. When it came time for university, he decided to study in the United States, at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, where he is now based.
Alexander, who is 26, worked for Southwest Airlines for a almost two years as a technical writer, but last year decided he wanted to get into business for himself.
He’s recruited to Need’s board of directors Carl Sparks, the CEO of Travelocity who had formerly held that job at Gilt Groupe, an online flash shopping site for designers. Need’s investors include Dallas-area angels and Venista Ventures, an early-stage German venture fund focused on mobile startups. In June, Need announced it had raised an undisclosed amount “in the six figures” in seed funding for the fall launch.
Need’s customers will also have a role in how its retail offerings are put together. The company has developed software that analyzes buying preferences, Alexander says.
With the Dallas site up and running on Tuesday, Alexander says Need will fill out its companion publication named Imprint, which will feature photography and articles that illustrate each month’s retail theme. And he’s looking ahead toward sister websites for places like New York and San Francisco by mid-2014.
The idea behind the localization is that a curated look for August will be different in Dallas—where temperatures are still in the high 90s—and San Francisco where the weather would be considerably cooler. Alexander says the collections would also reflect a city’s culture. More conservative prep in Dallas; edgier in a place like New York.
Part of the reason for seeking funding from Venista, which is based in London and Cologne, is to tap the European market, he adds. “London’s ripe for this sort of service,” he says.
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