We Reviewed Every Single Clothing Subscription Box That Ships to Canada
Subscription boxes proclaim to offer superior convenience, novelty and simplicity. But do they deliver on the promise?
Everywhere I turn, it seems as if another subscription box service has cropped up, promising to change my life for the better.
A thoroughly modern invention, subscription boxes proffer superior convenience, simplicity and novelty compared to the outdated practice of, say, going to the mall. Rather than spending precious minutes pawing through clothing, unable to find your size, instead you can arrive home to the delight of a new package to open, experience the surprise of not knowing what is exactly inside and the convenience of someone having already done your shopping for you. Subscription boxes promise to remove some of the decision fatigue that comes with always having a glut of options to choose from, ideally alleviating some of that millennial burnout along the way. And increasingly, there’s a subscription box for everything: coffee beans, dog treats, even craft supplies.
Are subscription boxes the future of shopping? Admittedly, I’m a bit skeptical. As someone who actually enjoys personalizing my wardrobe and making decisions about what to wear (I work at a fashion magazine, of course I do) I don’t feel the need to take that joy away from myself. Not to mention they seem kind of wasteful -are people really so busy that they’d rather take a chance on a box of stuff they might not wear rather than take the time and pick out something they will?
To find out whether clothing subscription boxes are really worth the money, we tested out a number of different boxes and assigned them a ranking out of ten. From Frank And Oak’s Style Plan to From Rachel, here’s how they stack up.
Frank And Oak Style Plan
Frequency: Once a month
Price: Depends on the number of items selected
Quality of Items: 8/10
The Frank And Oak Style Plan dictates that I fill out a questionnaire on my clothing preferences so that its mysterious cabal of “stylists” can get a feel for the clothes I like to wear. (Would I describe my style as “casual, classic or creative”? Do I dress more for style or comfort?) From there, an e-mail lands in my inbox suggesting three items—a striped t-shirt, a down jacket, and a pair of black Chelsea boots. Despite the fact that the algorithm knows I’m a “creative” dresser who places equal value on style and comfort, it has no idea that I already own way too many t-shirts and am in dire need of pants that actually fit. So, I wasn’t that into the suggestions they sent me, but not because I don’t like them, but because they’re things I own already. Rather than with what the algorithm selected for me, I opt for two other items on the docket: a red puffer jacket, so I can get in on the Michelin Man trend, and a ridiculous pair of short-alls that are totally impractical but I absolutely love. When the box arrives, I’m happy with everything, but how couldn’t I be when I picked everything out myself? In the end it wasn’t that different from online shopping – it was just online shopping with smaller parameters. In fact, selecting items from the Style Plan probably took me more time than regular online shopping because I kept comparing the selections to everything else available on the site. I would recommend this box to indecisive people who hate thinking about what clothes to wear. (So, basically, Obama.)
Frequency: Once a month
Price: $24.95/month for one item, or $69.95/month plus $9.95 shipping for a selection
Quality of Items: 8/10
Frock Box’s questionnaire is weirdly invasive, asking for bra size in addition to the standard height and weight, but despite feeling vaguely prudish about my hestitation to disclose this information, I fill it in anyways. Hey, they’re the experts, right? In addition to filling out the standard issue questionnaire, Frock Box also asks for a link to your Pinterest boards so they can get a better sense of your personal style. In the space allotted to expound on your personal style, I type in that I consider myself a modern prairie girl who loves Batsheva dresses and clogs. Deciphering my own tastes is a challenge even for me, so I’m desperately curious to see how Frock Box will interpret my style. When the Frock Box arrives, the selection of items exceeds my expectations by, frankly, a lot. Introduced me to Canadian designers I’d never heard of, like Rebecca King and Daisy Mae, and one item has even ended up in pretty frequent rotation in my wardrobe – a supersoft grey turtleneck sweater that I’ve pulled out of my closet every weekend since the temperatures dipped. The garment quality was a mix of fast fashion and independent designers and it was truly a delight to experience the version of myself that was reflected in the box. I’d recommend Frock Box to curious women who want to treat themselves to a surprise every month.
Rachel Zoe Box of Style
Frequency: Four times a year
Price: $99 US plus shipping
Quality of Items: 6/10
When a PR email arrived in my inbox about Rachel Zoe’s Box of Style, I immediately thought, “Brilliant!” There is a special place in my heart for Nicole Richie circa 2007 style and I was dying to know what Rachel Zoe is up to these days, somy curiosity was immediately piqued. Rather than a personalized subscription box, the Rachel Zoe Box of Style sends every subscriber the same selection of five items “curated” by Zoe herself. The Box of Style had probably the best presentation of all the boxes, arriving at my desk in a magnetized white box with each item neatly wrapped in black tissue. However, the contents of the box were sadly underwhelming. The only clothing items in the box were a fake leather belt and a free-size shawl scarf thing with precisely two tassels that made me look like one of the baby Jesus’ magi. Presumably I was supposed to “belt” the shawl — remember when ‘belt’ was a verb? — but I sadly did not resemble Mary-Kate Olsen in her NYU days. The rest of the items were all make-up, (a Caudalie serum that retails for $80! A Beauty Pie mascara!) This box wasn’t my cup of tea, but it might be right for a diehard Rachel Zoe fan.
Frequency: You get to choose! Monthly, every two months or every 3 months
Price: $27.50 per box
Quality of Items: 7/10
From Rachel is a Montreal-based startup dedicated exclusively to that vexing accessory, tights, and a subscription box comes in particularly handy if you’re the kind of person who is always wearing hole-y tights because you never remember to replace them. (Definitely NOT speaking form personal experience here.) Despite tights being a pretty straightforward accessory, I still had to fill out a questionnaire about my taste in legwear. I stated I would like to see more “femininity and originality” in my wardrobe and planned to wear my tights “at work and going out,” and the computerized response I received back was, “If you’re going out for drinks you better message me ;)” Though this faux sense of intimacy made me cringe, the tights themselves are good quality and the styles they picked out for me were pretty exciting. I fell in love with the pair of tights that were designed to resemble cute knee socks. Ultimately I found From Rachel to be quite useful and convenient – perfect for anyone who would rather be surprised with a cute selection of tights than make the trek to H&M to replenish their stock.