I recently had a chat with Edward Lando and Yagil Burowski, the founders of a two-week old startup called BlackV Club.
“We made an app that just sells you black v-necks,” said Burowski.
“All you can do on the app is buy one model of black v-neck,” added Lando. (To be clear, the app is still in the works.)
The founders explained that busy, intelligent people—chief among them those in technology—have neither the time nor the desire to engage with the process of getting dressed. (See here.) So the BlackV Club will select a men’s t-shirt to be universally flattering and “everyday billionaire chic” for those who can’t be bothered to pick out their own shirts, but still want to look good—and, presumably, are not averse to black v-necks.
Lando and Burowski said BlackV Club was born when they were busy working on their anonymous messaging app, Notice. (As opposed to when they were reading about the menswear startup parody, Shirterate.)
“We realized we were running out of clothes,” said Lando. “We each bought five black v-necks. When we got home and had them stacked and slipped them into our drawer, it felt like a very zen moment.” I saw a dystopian future populated with wannabe Steve Jobs, dressed in identical black v-necks for a day of coding or a night of clubbing (or a night of coding).
Zen black v-necks, said the founders, are just the beginning. Soon, they would add more wardrobe-building items.
“We’d like to feature one product at a time, and in a sense, be the Oprah’s book club for fashion,” Lando said modestly.
“Everyone sees that one article of clothing, and it sells out very quickly,” he continued. “That brand does very well because BlackV Club says, ‘this is what you should buy.'” He repeatedly declined to name any brands that meet their quality standards: “Affordable luxury.”
I asked Lando whether he had ever tried Trunk Club, a web-based retail service whereby stylists choose clients’ clothing. “It wasn’t zen,” he said. “They send all kinds of striped shirts.” (Fair point.)
In a follow-up email, Lando further clarified: “We want you to THROW AWAY your closet and we’re going to fill it back up with things that you look awesome in. And the way we’re going to do it is one-item-at-a-time-take-it-or-leave-it mobile flash sales.”
Lando said they’ve yet to select the black v-neck that will make tech workers look awesome, but they hope to launch their first one-item-at-a-time-take-it-or-leave-it mobile flash sale “within the next few weeks.” If the Club already has more than 1,500 members, as Burowski told Valleywag’s Nitasha Tiku, that means they have the rest of August to select a shirt, collect customers’ sizing information, order and receive the shirts, and finalize and produce the “zen,” Apple-inspired packaging they aspire to.
A large part of me (probably the part that likes men and clothes) wanted to believe Lando and Burowski were having me on. But I asked, and they’re not. BlackV Club is one logical—however outlandish—conclusion of movements happening in the tech world, where the founders of the nutrition drink Soylent have similarly solved the pesky problem of eating meals. It’s even happening in retail: Mainstream US department store Nordstrom has, with its recent purchase of the aforementioned Trunk Club for $350 million, acknowledged that some men just won’t proactively shop.