The labyrinth of aisles, screaming children, stale odor of old fast food and unending rows of chain stores are enough to strike fear into the heart of the average American man.
For those men who hate the mall, the Internet startup Cladwell just released a tool that serves as a personal valet, selecting clothes tailored to individual needs and preferences.
“There’s a conversation happening all around us,” explained Cladwell co-founder and brand evangelist Blake Smith to The Daily Caller, “and it’s happening before any words are actually said. That conversation is happening with our clothes.”
The online tool aims to free men from the painful, migraine-inducing process of shopping at the mall, or, as Smith described it, “the hellhole.” The company provides a subscription-based service that makes looking good easy and markets it to men between the ages of 22 and 29.
“When a young guy graduates from college and enters the workforce, he has essentially gone from the most casual environment possible into having to dress as a man,” Chris Merchich, Cladwell co-founder and head of fashion, told TheDC.
Cladwell’s Web tool is simple. The client fills out a 10-minute questionnaire, providing information about physical build, personal preference, budget and the environment for which he needs to dress.
The site runs the responses through an algorithm that produces a series of tags based on the particular item the client requested. These tags identify the specific styles, colors and patterns each man needs.
For example, if a man says he’s short in the questionnaire and looking for a casual button down shirt, the algorithm determines that he needs a slim-fit shirt with vertical stripes to make him appear taller. From here, stylists provide several options.
“The only thing a stylist can do,” assured Merchich, “is find the very item that matches their [client’s] build, lifestyle, physical features and preference. And, so it kind of narrows the scope down for that stylist, and then they can use their skills to find the very best item to match.”
Marchich said the company does not believe the purpose of clothing is self-expression or to change a man into something better. Clothes are simply meant to cover nakedness, he said.
“Nakedness is essentially saying when everything’s taken away we all think that we look ridiculous,” explained Merchich. Smith described the marketing strategies of mall businesses as attempts to exploit personal insecurities in order to drive the customer to buy more and more.
“We’re saying there’s a finite number of clothes you need in your life,” said Smith, “and you don’t have to buy three new shirts and two new pairs of jeans every season or every few months.”
Josh Peterson contributed this report.