Accessories Clothing Services

I’m trying out The Chapar’s Personal Clothing delivery service for men

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This week I was at the Great British Entrepreneurial Awards nomination shortlist reception. Held at 250 Bishopsgate in the centre of the Square Mile (and sponsored, no less, by Bizcrowd), I was there to give a little speech of welcome and to meet the gathered entrepreneurs.

I was blown away by the talent in the room. I don’t envy the judges having to make their decisions from the shortlisted companies. There were entrepreneurs from almost every industry. One pair I bumped into were Sam and Joe Middleton from personal stylist service, The Chapar. I was immediately intrigued as Sam introduced the concept: Wouldn’t it be great if someone who knew what they were talking about sent you a trunk every month containing clothes custom selected for you? Further, wouldn’t it be great if this basic service was free of charge — and that you just pay for any items you’d like to keep, sending the others back?

Yeah. I liked the sound of that.

I’ve heard of similar services in America that I’ve always wanted to try out. So I didn’t waste any time taking Sam’s card and promising to sign-up the next day.

I did sign up. But then I panicked at the online form. I panicked because I don’t really know my style. I don’t necessarily have one. Am I preppy? Or am I smart casual? That depends, you see. It almost depends what office I’m in. If I’m in the City, then I’m probably going to don a tip-top-super-hot pinstripe. If I’m working out in Angel, then I’m usually in relaxed ‘chinos-n-trainers’ look. I then hadn’t heard of half the brands they’d put up on the form to help give The Chapar’s stylists a bit of a hint.

I phoned the number on The Chapar’s website to ask for some advice. The call was answered by a delightfully sounding Chelsea. I explained that I loved the concept but didn’t feel qualified to complete the online form, nor did I feel it was appropriate for me to complete a phone style assessment with one of The Chapar’s personal stylists. This, I explained, is because I am married.

Some men like to retain their own individual sense of style and jealously guard their wardrobe. I’m not one of those people. I outsource that to my wife. This is why I married her. She knows and I’m fine with that. The last thing I want to do is go and buy something and then bring it back home and have her stare at me with the, “What were you thinking?” look. Far more efficient, I think, to have her talk to The Chapar’s personal stylist.

Chelsea — to her credit — didn’t laugh. She said that would be no problem.

My wife duly phoned up and had a chat, I think, with another of The Chapar’s team (a lady called Hannah). I haven’t had the time to ask about the experience as it’s been a busy week however I can say that my wife appeared content.

I think we’re both waiting with baited breath now.

I clicked the ‘send me a trunk’ button and a few hours later I had an email telling me that my trunk had been dispatched, along with a UPS reference. Nice.

I’m looking forward to seeing what they come up with.

I am very impressed by the simplicity and ease of use. The team, too, well, the one’s I’ve been exposed to (Hannah and Chelsea) appeared highly capable. Chelsea sounded fashionable on the phone.

Now then. How will that translate to 36-year-old me?

Before I ordered the trunk, there was a helpful series of checkboxes asking if I needed anything in particular. Chinos, jackets, that sort of thing. Rather useful that. I didn’t know what to put. I didn’t want to leave the form blank so I clicked a few boxes.

I can’t wait.

Bring it on.

You can try out The Chapar for just £1 (required to verify your credit card). There are no other charges unless you’d like to purchase some of the items you’ve been sent. I would imagine it’s possible to receive a whole trunk, look through the items and return them all — free of charge. That would be pretty boring though.

The ability to try on clothes easily and without the hassle of sales assistants shoving things in your face strikes me as a key benefit. I reckon there’s a high likelihood that I’ll probably want to keep some things. The experimentation possibilities are likely to help me buy more, I’m sure. For example, it’s likely that I’d never reach for a particular jacket or item of clothing if I saw it on a shelf in a shop. But if you’ve sent it to me… I’ll at least consider it. And then you’ll have my wife sitting next to me with a glass of wine appraising it all. In a relaxed manner.

Interesting, very interesting.

I’ll let you know how I get on.

In the meantime if you’d like to give it a go, get yourself over to and let me know how you get on.


Using Collect+ to return my Amazon package was painless

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I have to say I wasn’t feeling that good about being forced to use the Collect+ service to return my Amazon package. Although I expect nothing but greatness when it comes to Amazon, I did wonder how it could possibly match my standard (super-high) expectations of Amazon.

I shouldn’t have worried, I really shouldn’t.

Here’s the background: Over the Christmas period I ordered a big noticeboard for the office via Amazon. I buy everything I can on Amazon, primarily because of the purchase experience and the predictability. Unfortunately when the product arrived one of the corners was seriously damaged.

I did a few clicks on Amazon and — boom — they instructed me to print out a returns label. No bother, I thought.

It was only when I continued reading that I saw the mention of Collect+.


Here’s the Collect+ overview from their website:

Collect+ is a new parcel service delivering freedom and convenience, not just parcels. We have built a network of over 5,000 local corner shops, open from early ‘til late and often 7 days a week, allowing you to drop off or pick up parcels at a time and place that suits you.

I did wonder. This all sounds good but what’s the actual user experience when you head into the local corner shop? Especially when you arrive with a huge noticeboard-sized package?

I stuck the return label on the package and put some selotape over it to protect from the elements. Thoughtful, I reckoned.

Then I checked for my nearest local shop. Even on a Sunday it was open until 6pm. I arrived at the Spar mini supermarket and I had to take a moment behind the car wheel to mentally prepare myself for the consumer horror I was potentially about to be exposed to. I could picture the scene and it wasn’t pretty. I was mostly thinking about the possibility of a totally disinterested employee telling me words to the effect of “I dunno what you mean”.

I did see a PayPoint sign on the wall of the shop as I did the mental preparation. On that sign, bottom right, was a Collect+ logo. So I wouldn’t feel totally stupid trying to explain what I wanted. At least I could respond with, “Well, there’s a Collect+ logo on the sign outside” when challenged by the fictional shop assistant.

I did feel rather strange walking into the shop with a package. It’s not the standard user experience, you see. One or two other shoppers stared as I waited to be served at the… well… the payment concession bit. I didn’t see any Collect+ branding but I did see the PayPoint machine which, I began to understand, seemed to be the glue that underpins everything.

It was my turn shortly.

“Hi, I’d like to drop this off,” I said, nodding to the package.

“Oh sure,” said the shop assistant chap, “Just bring it round here.”

He took the package from me and then explained he just needed to scan the barcode and give me a tracking number.

I was thinking of some handwritten scrawl on a used Bounty wrapper — that was the model in my mind — but no, the shop had a proper machine. And everything 😉

He scanned the barcode and the machine duly printed out a receipt with the tracking ID.

“Thanks very much,” the chap said, handing me the receipt.

I thanked the guy and walked away, wondering why I had ever doubted Amazon’s smart thinking executives.

It was utterly simple.

I’ve got my proof of delivery. As far as I’m concerned, job done. The shop assistant explained that apparently a Collect+ truck will arrive tomorrow morning and pick up the package.

I’m delighted.

I’m impressed with the Collect+ service. I might even give it a shot with some deliveries. You can opt to have items delivered to your local corner shop rather than your home address which makes a TON of sense if you’re out all day or if you can’t stand getting one of those notes through the door from the postman.

The place I selected today is open from 730am until 8pm daily, however the nearest Collect+ place to me is actually a service station… which is open 24-hours a day. Absolute genius. I doubt very much that you can actually walk into the store with a package to return (or pick up) at 4am in the morning as service station places usually swap to doing business through “the window”, don’t they? I’ll need to check.

Thank you Amazon. Thank you also to Collect+ team for creating such a seamless service.