I received my Elizabeth & Clarke order recently and thought I’d share with you. This is a quarterly subscription service, and it’s one of a handful of new companies that works directly with manufacturers and sells exclusively online. This is in an effort to provide consumers with high quality clothing with transparent pricing and a significant discount from traditional retail, sort of like a subscription-based version of Everlane (or Cuyana, or up-and-comer Brass Clothing). Can you tell I’m into the concept these guys are working with? I only really shop online anyway, so I’m ok with forgoing clearance sales and discounts if I know the full retail is actually a fair markup and not an additional, arbitrary price gouge. No more games!
It works like this: You sign up for a recurring one, two, or three shirt box and every season you are presented with five shirts that you can choose to fill that box. The more you get the more you save, with the boxes working out to $30, $25, or $20 per shirt, respectively. You select these in anticipation of the next season and don’t actually get your shirts for a couple months. This is part of how they keep costs low. The pieces are really high quality, but they are able to cut out a huge chunk of the markup by 1) limiting marketing and only selling online directly to consumers and 2) by taking in all of the orders ahead of time and only producing the EXACT amount of shirts that they will be selling. It’s actually a pretty clever business model.
If you want a more in-depth explanation about the company’s formation and some of the realities of the fashion industry, I’d highly recommend checking this post from the founders, it’s a worthwhile read.
It also looks like a lot of effort goes into each design to ensure that the pieces produced are exceptional. The card enclosed with my order explained that the designers tested over 300 fabrics to pick their stock, and for each design they test 12 different dyes, spend over 600 design hours, and create 15 different prototypes.
The downside to this service is the lack of choice. Last season I signed up for the three-shirt subscription. I chose one seasonal top and two of their seasonless staples (I couldn’t resist a nice white tee and a proper button-up). Unfortunately, that means when the upcoming season’s choices rolled around, I had already received the two perennially available basics and was stuck with the three winter selections as my only options, and I’m not sure if I like all of them. I went along with it, but I may end up downgrading to a two-shirt subscription for Spring since I don’t love that I’m supposed to get a “choice,” but really I’m stuck with the only three options that I haven’t gotten already. That is not a choice.
Anyway, let’s check out the three tops that I have from the Fall Collection!
This is my favorite of the bunch. Last week I wore it tucked in to a black midi skirt and my friend told me I was looking very Jackie O, which is highest praise in my book. I like the interesting drape detail to the neckline, and the crepe fabric is lightweight but opaque.
The Liz Lemon
The shirt is very soft and the fabric has a great hang to it. The curved hem at the bottom makes it a little different from other shirts, although it might be better with an extra inch or two for my frame. I still like it. I hope they eventually update it with different colors so I can buy more! I did noticed that in spite of my height-based issues, all of the shirts I ordered fit more precisely than other shirts in this price range because sizing is offered in 00-14 rather than a more generic S, M, L chart.
This classic, white button-up has internal tabs to keep your sleeves rolled up if you like. I also LOVE the way this cut is fitted enough to curve in toward my back, but still loose enough not to cling around my stomach. I feel like I’m forever compromising between those two cuts whenever I buy a button up. This one also has a really thoughtfully designed curve to the hem (and it hits me at a better place than the Liz tee).
All in all, I’d say this box was a big hit for me since the quality is great and so is the value. But as I mentioned earlier, I may downgrade my subscription depending on which designs are offered after my Winter box arrives. I’ll keep you posted.