Thursday, 18 January 2018

The Chapar Review: UK Subscription / Curated Clothing Service

I'm back! No one expected that.

Well, for one post only. I've recently tried out a new service that I wanted to review, and I didn't really think it was suitable for my current outdoors and adventure blog, so I thought why not put it here just in case anyone is still reading!

For those not familiar with the process, The Chapar is a subscription (sort of - I'll come on to that) clothing service, whose stylists pick out clothes that they think you will like and send them to you in a trunk. The benefits are that a) you don't need to shop for clothes, b) you get someone else to guide your style and pick out outfits that should be coherent and interesting and c) you may be exposed to brands or clothing types you wouldn't normally consider, which broadens your style a bit.

I say it's 'sort of' a subscription service because, firstly, you're not tied in to a monthly box - you simply order a trunk as and when you want. I would hope that the more boxes you order, the better they should get as your stylist starts to learn what you do and don't like and what fits you (and bear in mind in this review that this is my first box). Secondly, you're not tied to any cost since you only pay for what you keep. If you send the whole box back, you'd have paid nothing, since postage both ways is free.

Anyway, the process starts on their simple but effective website. You provide a bit less information than I'd expected - basic sizes of course, but not much about your personal preferences other than to choose a few brands you like. However, a few days later I got a call from my personal stylist who talked a bit more about what I am looking for. Again it was fairly formulaic, obviously working through a checklist of questions rather than just letting me talk about how I like to dress, but that's fine as long as the end result is good.

Anyway, a week or so later I got my 'trunk', which is box about the size of a piece of carry-on luggage, with a handle, so it can be easily carried from work to home, for example, if you have it delivered to your office.

Inside, there's a little intro booklet with a list of all the items you've been sent and their prices (which should be the same as high street prices, although of course it probably doesn't factor in the possibility to shop in sales etc.) and some notes from your stylist, including which items are intended to go together as an outfit.

The clothes themselves were broadly bundled together in outfits, plus a few loose items such as a belt and a tshirt. It's worth noting that shoes and outer coats could also be included, I'd just said I didn't need any, so my focus was on shirts, jumpers and trousers mainly.

I was pretty immediately impressed with the selection. Just glancing at the bundles when I opened the trunk gave me a good feeling that the clothes were broadly the kind of thing I'd wear.

The process of trying them on is fun - it's rare for me to have 15+ items of clothing to try on at once, and putting together the recommended outfits and seeing what worked was a nice part of it. Of course, how much fun you get out of all this does partly depend on your budget to actually keep the clothes. I forgot to tot up the value of the whole trunk but it won't have been far off £1,000, so keeping everything wasn't going to be an option for me on this occasion. In fact, I'd done this on a whim as an experiment and then realised I don't actually have any money to spend on clothes, so I kept a lot less than I'd have liked, and the fact I only kept two items doesn't reflect how good the overall selection was in any way.

Unsurprisingly a few items didn't quite fit, or 'fitted' but not in a way I like (such as some Lee's jeans which were the right waist and length, but just far too skinny) but most things were pretty spot on, and there were a lot of styles of clothing that I really liked and which I felt reflected my style well, so I was pretty pleased with the results. Importantly, since this is part of the point, there were things I might not have bought for myself but which I really liked, such as a Ralph Lauren half-zip sweater (which I sent back with great regret as I just couldn't afford it).

The great triumph was a lovely pair of Levi's dark blue cords which a) fitted perfectly and b) were exactly what I was after as a slightly smarter alternative to jeans for everyday office wear. They were also surprisingly cheap, and so they got kept. The other item was a lovely cotton Ralph Lauren jumper which fitted so well that I couldn't resist keeping it. Sadly, everything else went back but there were probably three or four other items I'd have happily kept if I could have afforded to.

There were few things that really didn't work, though I didn't love a couple of checked shirts I was sent, and a plain blue polo shirt was just a bit dull - if I'd been starting a wardrobe from scratch I might have kept it as a useful staple, but I already have a decent wardrobe and am looking for little extra items to fill small gaps, so a polo shirt wasn't really a must-have.

Anyway, I wrote an email with some feedback to improve the selection next time, and sent the box back - which is an easy process either by dropping it somewhere that handles DPD parcels, or by arranging for Chapar to come and collect it again. I can definitely see myself ordering another trunk in the future, the only thing I'll change is that I'll wait until I have a bit more to spend, so that I don't feel so constrained and I can keep more of the items I like instead of sending them back.

I definitely recommend it, and if anyone does fancy giving it a try, use this link to get a £30 credit on your first order (disclaimer: I'll also get a £30 credit if you use it, but that's win-win eh?)


  1. Good grief! The Lazarus of menswear bloggers has returned.

    I still enjoy reading some of your old posts now and again and I hope it won't be another 3 years before we hear from you again.

    On a completely unrelated note - what do you think of Drake's apparel? I would have thought a lot of it would have been up your street, although the prices have become increasingly ludicrous following its incorporation into the Armory group.

  2. it's good to see you again!


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