Have you ever had your laundry done at a five-star hotel? If so, you’ll know the glee that comes with that knock at the door, the sumptuous stack of boxes, the decadent unwrapping of your Sunday best – all crisply pressed and folded around an arrangement of tissue and card worthy of an origami champion. It’s like your wardrobe has been replaced like for like, fresh from Jermyn Street.
Now apply that experience to every morning of your working life every time you reach for a shirt. The stuff of 80s Wall Street or James Bond, surely? Not according to Collar Club, a new, London-based service, whose members are supplied with 11 made-to-measure Italian shirts, five of which are collected, laundered, pressed and delivered back every week (wrapped in tissue paper and boxes), for £95 a month. For most time-poor white-collar sorts, it sounds like a godsend.
In fact, it is the brainchild of Hasan Mustafa, who left his job at RBS to pursue his new baby, alongside entrepreneurs Jono Holt and Ben Lewin.
“I spent a long time in emerging markets and investment banking,” says Mustafa, “so I’m a typical Collar Club customer; I know where the ‘pain-point’ is when it comes to the weekly laundry. My funding [a £300,000 seed] came from an ‘angel round’ of other friends in the City who believed in my model and wanted to be customers.”
As Mustafa sees it, Collar Club straddles two separate problems faced by City chaps. “Some have maids already; our service provides a laundry service for roughly the same cost but with 11 tailored shirts that are essentially ‘free’.”
“Alternatively,” Mustafa continues, “there’s the guy who regularly shops on Jermyn Street for a three or four shirts for £100 deal. If he signs up to Collar Club, he gets a complete set of comparable-quality shirts and it’s the laundry that’s free.”
The prospect of no more Jermyn Street, no more Sunday-evening ironing sessions, and no more lunch break trips to the dry cleaner certainly sounds enticing – let alone the “as new” experience every morning of a fitted shirt made in Italy with Egyptian Giza 86 cotton. It’s just a question of weighing up that £95 a month. At £3.17 a day, Mustafa reckons it’s no more than if you source all the components individually. And when you consider the lengths he’s gone to corral them on your behalf, it’s a wonder it’s this low.
“Finding the right Italian shirtmaker was a problem,” he says. “Not in the making, but the fact that shirts are not made at once. In a sense, it’s a bespoke system, with small batches.
“And then there’s the little stuff you don’t expect to be an issue, like the boxes, which needed to be wide enough to accommodate creases at the correct part of the shirt, so it unfolds properly on a business trip.”
Mustafa doesn’t simply want to be known as an amazing laundry service. His heroes are disruptive, democratic web startups such as Made, Rent the Runway or Uber, and like these success stories, all of whom cut out the expensive middlemen, he wants Collar Club to be a menswear subscription service that offers a different, easier way.
“Being unique has its problems, though,” Mustafa says. “With no one else around, there’s no competition, which is what drives business.”
But now the secret’s out, a shirt concierge service like Collar Club seems like a no-brainer. Still not convinced? Why not buy a shirt outright first, for £69, and see for yourself? That very first rustle of pristine tissue paper will have you hooked before you’ve even reached for the cufflinks.
For more information log onto collarclub.com