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Gilt Groupe Targets Guys for New Luxury Retail Site Park & Bond

August 10, 2011
Forbes
by Lydia Dishman

When should a company not replicate its winning formula for retail success? When it’s clear the ploy won’t play to the target market. In this case, internet retailer Gilt Groupe is straying from its tried-and-true flash sales model to launch Park & Bond, a full-priced menswear site without the limited-time component that’s been responsible for Gilt’s rapid growth since it was founded in 2007.

36-hour-only sales replete with deeply-discounted merchandise have made Gilt Groupe’s site a daily destination for many a bargain-hunting fashionista. In addition to high-end designer threads, the label-hungry could also snap up a growing array of accessories and lifestyle products for women, men and children, home entertaining and decor, along with luxury travel packages, local services, and experiences. Such sales have pushed Gilt Groupe’s annual revenue to an estimated $500 million and allowed the company to snag $138 million from investors in May.

Yet what made the flash sales so thrilling for female shopaholics well-versed in standing in long dressing room lines and jockeying for position and goods at sample sales and on eBay, would leave the majority of male customers cold. In other words, dudes won’t be skipping lunch (most Gilt sales start at noon) in favor of rushing to get the best deal on the latest Prada suit.

Gilt knows this. CEO Kevin Ryan told Daily Finance:

  Some of the reason why we’re going into the full-price men’s business before women’s is that men love to shop online. They tell us “I just don’t like shopping in stores that much. I don’t want to spend hours in a store.” I think more and more over time, men are just going to buy more and more online.

Using this knowledge, Gilt Groupe has already built a handsome business (think $100 million) in discounted men’s clothing and accessories on the shoulders of flash sales. But in order to really flex the buying muscle of its 400,000 male customers Gilt is going to offer them a specially selected full-price assortment on a dedicated site.

Ryan noted, “This is a full price men’s store. Go look at Saks and Bergdorf’s home pages, and check if you see any men’s [clothing]. They’re basically women’s stores that have a small men’s store.”

Back in November, John Auerbach, general manager of Gilt MAN and president of Park & Bond, explained that the site would be a virtual version of an old school salesman who really knows his stuff. Park & Bond’s curated, seasonal offerings shows gents exactly what’s current, covetable, and most important, looks cool head-to-toe from such brands as Alexander McQueen, Paul Smith,Thom Browne, Thomas Pink, Brooks Brothers, and Florsheim by Duckie Brown.

The team behind Park & Bond has a wealth of fashion cred, too. Gilt tapped the talents of execs from Rue La La (another flash sale site), Men.Style.com, and Zappos. To give context to the whole enterprise, Gilt is building on what it started with Gilt MAN’s “Manual” and provide editorial content as well as host a GQ online store that will feature a selection of products handpicked from the pages of the magazine by the editors.  The picks will be designated in the print magazine as well as compiled on GQ.com, so readers can go directly to the GQ online store on P&B to purchase instantly.

For those (few) guys worried about the fit of the clothes, P&B offers Fits.me technology, a virtual fitting room service that customizes FitBot mannequins based on shoppers’ individual measurements so they can see how clothes from select brands look on them before they buy. Gilt is the first U.S. retailer to use the tech within its site.

Message to those guys who start to sweat at the thought of wandering through a department store or worse, the mall, in search of trousers or shoes: your e-commerce fairy godmother has arrived.

Gilt Groupe Targets Guys for New Luxury Retail Site Park & Bond

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