With outfits like Birchbox (beauty and men's grooming products), Rocksbox (women's designer jewelry) and Le Tote (women's fashion) proving to be successful business models, entrepreneur Donald Hawkins didn't see why there couldn't be a subscription service for ties and cufflinks too.
The result is MetCode, which launched a few months ago, designed to give men a rotating wardrobe of accessories.
Hawkins, based in Atlanta, said he had the idea for the company after his cousin joined a college fraternity.
"He would post pictures on Facebook and he always had on the same bowtie," said Hawkins. "They were expensive, so he didn't have that many."
So Hawkins decided to offer a monthly box of three accessories with choices including regular, skinny and bow ties, tie clips, bracelets, pocket squares and accents for lapels. The packages are priced depending on the level of brand included. The $20 Dapper selection encompasses Bill Blass, Calvin Klein and Dockers; for the $35 Esquire — the most popular — subscribers get Brooks Brothers and Donald Trump, and the premiere $50 Aficionado gives members access to Hermes, Ermenegildo Zegna and Gucci. When you're done, send them back and get another box with something new.
"We were hearing from guys who maybe always wanted to try a Tom Ford tie or wanted to find something unique and new but didn't have access or didn't know where to start," he said. Offerings can be customized as well: If a subscriber is headed on an important business trip or to a wedding, he can specify color requirements and dress codes.
MetCode also offers a try-before-you-buy model, with users opting to purchase the accessories they have received. Hawkins is developing the e-tail part of the business by collaborating with small independent designers who use MetCode as a launchpad of sorts. These include a designer making fabric floral boutonnieres out of her basement and two brothers who make wooden bowties. The site will also be adding ready-to-wear options.
"Guys always need crisp white dress shirts and a great pair of slacks," said Hawkins. "We want people to see us as an add-on to their wardrobe. It's a niche market, but the price point is low enough for us to be affordable by anyone."