Oct 1 2013
In the heart of Manhattan’s Midtown is a fledgling business touted as “the Netflix for Menswear Accessories”, Freshneck, that is reminding men that getting “dressed up” for your days and evenings is imperative and also quite easy. Former lawyer and Merrill Lynch alum, David Goldberg is more than familiar with the ‘Gordon Gecko’, ‘Donald Trump’ three-piece suit, business life that surrounds his Midtown headquarters. Goldberg seeks to change how men get dressed and more importantly how they shop for their clothes. Fashion doesn’t come easy for most men, so Goldberg takes out the risk of committing to a piece that they’re not entirely sure of. With Freshneck, you can try ties and other accessories before you pull the trigger on a purchase, and if it doesn’t work out for you then you can send it back and try something new. The business model is 100% safe for all customers and continues to evolve to match the whims and demands of all men that look to Freshneck for an update to their wardrobe and style.
We caught up with Goldberg to talk about how this business got started, the buying habits of members and the future of menswear.
This interview was conducted on August 21st, 2013.
How did you come up w/ Freshneck?
I used to work in the corporate industry wearing a suit and tie everyday. I was a practicing attorney for three years until I moved over to finance where I worked with two global investment banks. I couldn’t really afford to have the variety in my wardrobe that I wanted. My ties and my pocket squares were the only way I could express my style and personality. While I was at Merrill Lynch, I orchestrated an in-company called ‘Tie Swop’ where about 5 or 6 guys bring in 3 or 4 of their old ties, pass them to the person on their left and now that person has new ties without spending any money. About a month later a few of the guys asked when we can do that again and that they’re ready for some new ties. I think people realize that just because you don’t want to wear your ties anymore they still have a lot of value if they’re in good shape and someone else can get use out of them, so that was really the first moment [where I realized] we’re on to something and we can make this into a bigger and actual business.
It’s an interesting concept, it’s like part thrift shopping, part Style Forum…
I think traditionally you compare it to something like a thrift store or eBay, which are two inexpensive alternatives to going out and buying something new at Bloomingdales. The problem [with thrift stores and eBay] is that there is very little trust and no real quality. You can’t really go on there and get a $150 tie for $80 in a trusted source like that so we take the combination of eBay, thrift stores, and flash sales like Gilt and Prive and offer an alternative to getting really high quality unique stuff at a much more affordable price.
Is this your first venture into fashion?
It is, I was always just a customer until this.
What first drew you to fashion?
It was always just my own personal style. I was working in large banks and when I was a lawyer I was surrounded by hundreds if not thousands of boring, plain grey suits and ties or navy suits and ties. There were restrictions on how bold you can get [with your outfit] and I always liked to stand out a little bit whether it was my ties, pocket squares or socks. I was always known as one of the people who pushed the boundaries a little bit.
About Freshneck, how do you select all of the brands you carry?
There’s no real process, it comes down to our three-tiered membership – silver, gold and platinum – that equate to quality relating to Macy’s, Bloomingdales, and Bergdorf. So we look to fill out each level and it basically comes down to our customers and what they want. We get a lot of data of the types of things they’re clicking on and what they’re renting from us so we know what brands, what colors, what fabrics and what widths to add to the collection and then it comes down to value compared to price and if it’s the right price that our customers want, we’ll purchase it for inventory.
What are some of the things you’ve noticed from customers so far?
Talking about trends in what we do, given our business model in that you’re wearing something once or twice and then sending it back, people are skewing towards unique, bold items like bold colors and prints by companies like Duchamp or Seward & Stern or it can be seasonal fabrics like we’ve seen from Everett Clothing, Armstrong & Wilson and D.B. Ties. If you’re buying something you realize you can only really wear a piece for a few months when the weather is warm out, but with us you can wear it once or twice, send it back and then when it gets colder get some wool ties or something along those lines.
I think people start with us to dip their feet in. They may buy Brooks Brothers for example or what they’re accustomed to wearing and over time you’ll start seeing that after they get their second, third and fourth shipments they get more comfortable and try a bowtie, some tie clips, some knitted ties or some different patterns or fabrics that they may not want to try or commit to buying.
Do you feel like the lack of risk is the main driving factor for purchases?
Definitely, I’m not the first to realize that men fear commitment and this translates to their style. I can’t tell you [before this company] how many times I’ve walked down the street and saw someone on the street or on GQ looking really dapper and stylish in a bowtie and I would say to myself, “I’d love to try that out”, but I’m not going to go to Bloomingdales and buy one for $75 when I don’t even know how to tie one let alone if I can really pull it off. So here as part of your membership you can try it out and if you like it you can then choose to buy it from us, or send it back and get new stuff.
What goals do you wish to achieve with Freshneck?
The true goal is growth and awareness. We want people to understand and to realize that they should take pride and have fun with their style and that they don’t have to overspend to do so. I also think part of that is brand perception and understanding that ‘collaborative consumption’, sharing with many people, isn’t something that degrades from quality. There shouldn’t be a stigma related to renting or sharing, this is really the new age of economics.
Is there anything that you wish to change in mens style with Freshneck?
I think men need to start dressing up again outside of the workplace. I think men do a good job with their suits and ties, but I think men have stopped taking pride in this. You see a lot of jeans, t-shirts, baseball caps and sneakers and I think there’s a time and a place for that, but there’s just something to be said about someone who takes some pride and throws on even a tie or bowtie for a Saturday night dinner, a night out with friends or a date. I think it really says something about that person.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’ll add one thing, I feel that it’s very important that new designers really do things that are different and really stand out from the crowd because there is a market for that especially outside of the business in the formal wear. I think it is key to keep pushing boundaries and making new things instead of remaking the old classics with different labels.
Head to Freshneck for a closer look of what’s available and how to start receiving ties of your own.