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How King & Stone Is Building a Private Label Business Through Subscriptions

The genre of subscription retail has matured since the days of the Columbia Tape House Club.

From Dollar Shave Club and Birchbox Man offering an affordable way to try new grooming products, to Surf Shop Box, Bombfell and the head honcho of subscription services, Trunk Club, which ships curated selections of apparel and accessories, men are subscribing to these services to effortlessly update their wardrobes.

Few, however, are offering men’s footwear at an affordable price. Enter King & Stone, a new men’s subscription service that delivers subscribers a pair of house label shoes four time a year. King & Stone charges $25 a month to receive three shoe options four times a year. The subscriber chooses one of the three shoes to own, meaning each shoe costs about $75 each.

In comparison, subscriptions to Men’s Shoe Club, which sends a shoe each month go start at $75 a month for 12 months to $90 a month for three months. The Mr. Porter Ultimate Shoe Subscription will set you back $5,500 a year.

Co-Founders Shaun Rosenstein and Krijn Mossel launched King & Stone in 2015 because they were interested in providing an affordable service that made purchasing and owning shoes completely hassle-free for men.

Like many footwear start-up companies, King & Stone gained its footing on Kickstarter, raising $28,500 from 203 backers.

“I always viewed Kickstarter as a way to establish a foundation for the company, but I never expected the Kickstarter customer to be what a typical King & Stone customer might be like,” Rosenstein said.

“I love Kickstarter in this way because it gives you a baseline of customers to experiment and learn with and grow organically instead of getting a huge chunk of money from a different funding source and artificially going through growth.”

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Rosenstein, with a background in the social marketing and digital media, said he’s seen men fall victim to owning shoes for too long. As a result, he said they damage their posture and health, and their social lives by continuing to put on the same tired sneakers.

“Once they’re subscribed, they stay subscribed.”

The company caters to young working professional males—consumers that have enough money to buy shoes but not enough time or interest to shop for them.

“Buying shoes can often be a hyper-personalized experience with a huge variety of choices,” Rosenstein said.

King & Stone aims to streamline the shopping process by offering men an edited selection of shoes that reflect each subscriber’s personal style and needs. The brand asks subscribers to complete a style profile that asks for the user’s shoe size and their preferred style. Selecting shoes takes place on King & Stone’s website, but the brand is working toward a mobile app that will make this process even more convenient.

Subscribers can choose to skip a cycle if they feel like they don’t need a new pair, but Rosenstein pointed out that the company has a very low attrition rate. “Once they’re subscribed, they stay subscribed,” he said.

Rosenstein works directly with their manufacturers on design and have sourced from factories in India and China to produce the house label.

“Our goal is always to find the best quality at an affordable price.”