Your clothes definitely make a difference in how other people respond to you and also in the way you feel about yourself.
Blake Smith, co-founder of Cladwell, learned this first hand when he was working for a hedge fund in Cincinnati.
“At one meeting, he realized he was the worst dressed guy in the room,” says Chris Merchich, co-founder and head of fashion.
Another guy in a similar position to Smith was dressed better and Smith noticed all the questions were directed to him. That’s when he called up Merchich who then worked for Macy’s. He told him he needed help picking out a suit. He immediately saw the difference in how other people interacted with him when he wore it.
The two friends knew they had a winning concept and went to work figuring out how to replicate that experience for other guys. They created Cladwell a couple of years ago, which is a website that gives men trusted friend advice about clothing options suited specifically for their individual preference and lifestyle.
It’s free for guys to create an account on Cladwell’s site. Just fill out a survey including clothing goals, budget, amount of time spent in casual clothes as well as dress clothes, climate, body type, hair color, and eye color and you are ready to roll.
“One of our goals is to reach a lot of different guys with a lot of different styles,” says Merchich. “We are trying to be a voice for men. We’re trying to tell men they have value and clothes can communicate that value.”
“We view ourselves as the trusted confidante, the good friend, in order to put your best foot forward,” says Max Berg, project associate with Cladwell.
Once a customer makes his choices, the site reveals wardrobe selections divided into sections: pants, shirts, suits, shoes, outerwear, and accessories. Clothing suggestions come from a variety of retailers and if an item is on sale, you’ll see that information too. Guys can pick and choose the items that appeal to them. If they like the whole wardrobe, they don’t have to buy it all at once. They can add items as their budget allows.
Initially Cladwell offered up single recommendations, like finding the right suit to wear to a wedding. This fall, they increased their services to provide a full wardrobe recommendation. That’s caused their membership to double to almost 80,000 guys. On average, they are spending about $340 each on wardrobe updates.
“There’s a finish line,” says Berg. “That’s a big part of our message. We recommend buying clothing that’s timeless—30 to 50 items total, and then you can stop. You don’t have to feed into a perpetual buying cycle.”
At this point, customers are redirected to individual retailer websites for clothing purchases. There’s no fee to use Cladwell—they make commissions off any recommended clothing item that you buy.
“We are focusing over the next three months in incorporating a shopping cart on our website so you don’t have to click through to the retailer,” says Merchich.
Also, if you want to drop hints to family members about what gifts you’d love to unwrap, send them to giftfinder.cladwell.com. “We put together a simple survey. Just fill it out and it will generate really cool gift items. We’ve been telling all the people in our lives to use it for us,” says Berg.