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Mullins: Join the sharp-dressed men club

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Published:   |   Updated: March 11, 2013 at 04:13 PM

Many guys would like to dress like the guys in Esquire or GQ. Sharp suits, casual Friday outfits with matching shoes, weekend getaway gear with style.

Fewer guys have the patience to scour all over town to find everything, even if they know the brands they like.

Thus, for every modern annoyance, there is a startup, and for this particular problem, there is the Chicago-based TrunkClub.com.

Here’s how it works: Clients meet informally with a Trunk Club consultant in their town to go over their needs for work, weekends and going out. The consultant then scours the nation for the right shirts, pants, suits, shoes, belts, socks and anything else to match your style and size, and Trunk Club mails you a “Trunk” every few months. Try everything on, keep what you like, send back the rest, (free shipping) and you can Skype all you want with your consultant to hone in on what you need next.

“My first trunk came with 10 or so items, and I think I kept six,” said Charlie Bartlett, a 40-year-old Web designer in Tampa. “I don’t really need business clothes since I work from home. This was nice stuff for going out at night to the bars. I can’t even tell you the brand names, since I had not heard them before.” Yes, the jeans were $200, but they are “awesome,” Bartlett said.

Stuff-by-mail services like this for guys are taking off like mad: DollarShaveClub.com, Manpacks.com and so on. In a way, Trunk Club is the Spotify, Pandora or Netflix for clothes.

Several young, professional guys in town tell me they dig Trunk Club, partly because clothes are higher-quality and the styles are more often seen in Chicago and New York, not the “Tampa” style that leans more toward Jersey Shore than Esquire.

Other retail, restaurant and shopping news:

Have you ever thought, “What this auto parts store needs is a coffee lounge.” Well, problem solved. Pep Boys (Manny, Moe and Jack) will start construction soon at 3933 W. Hillsborough Ave. on the first prototype store of the 700-plus chain. It will try to leave behind the ethos in the parts industry of a walk-up counter with grumpy guys who want to know the exact part number you’re looking for. (If you knew, would you be in a parts store instead of buying online?)

The store style is part Starbucks, part Apple and part … auto parts. To quote Pep Boys, “Here, associates will focus on alleviating stress and confusion,” with a store exterior featuring stone and hardwood. If you have your car in for repair, there’s a lounge with free Wi-Fi. PepBoys.com.

Many martial arts clubs teach students that the best defense is a good offense — immediately attack your opponent and wail on them with devastating force. Aikido involves a more subtle approach of redirecting an attacker’s momentum to their detriment. Not bad advice in politics or business, and it’s the focus of a new, exquisitely designed dojo called Aikido Chuseikan opening soon in Ybor City with backing by Guy Hagen, a senior executive at the PR firm Tucker Hall. Hagen has taught martial arts for years at the University of South Florida. He gravitated to Aikido to teach the tactical philosophy and benefits for life and business in handling stress, competition and pressure. The new dojo opens this month at 1302 N. 15th St. TampaAikido.com.

Microsoft is a step closer to opening a retail store in Tampa. Though the company declines to comment, the Microsoft careers website spills the beans. They’re hiring for a store manager and several retail employees for an undisclosed location in Tampa. We recently reported that the Sony store at International Plaza is closing and how that’s an ideal site — being almost within sight of arch rival Apple. Check out the jobs, if you can navigate to the labyrinthlike careers page at Microsoft.com.

International Plaza is also the site of a new store with the quirky name of Call It Spring. Teen and college-focused, the shoe and accessories retailer has a style that combines the fashion-forward elements of H&M, the hot-and-wealthy-but-can’t-be-bothered ennui of Abercrombie & Fitch and the spikiness of Urban Outfitters. But with much more color. When does it open? Spring, of course. CallItSpring.com.


rmullins@tampatrib.com

(813) 259-7919

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