STORE: Tobi

SINCE: 2006

FOUNDED BY: Catherine Chow, Corina Nurimba

BRANDS CARRIED: A.P.C., Comme des Garçons, Converse, Creative Recreation, Dirty Librarian Chains, Frye, G-Shock, G-Star, Hudson Jeans, Hunter, James Perse, Jean Shop, Keds, Ksubi, Marc by Marc Jacobs, MM6 Maison Martin Margiela, Nixon, Nudie Jeans, Opening Ceremony, Prps, Spiewak, Super, Tom Ford, TOMS Shoes, WeSC, and many more.

WHY WE CO-SIGN: Despite the pros of online shopping (wide selection, good prices, anytime/anywhere convenience), many are weary for obvious reasons. For example, how would you know if that shirt makes you look sallow? (Because it TOTALLY does.) Tobi, a web-based peddler of the choicest in menswear, has eliminated the problem by providing "1-to-1 Shopping". This service pairs shoppers with a stylist, who remembers the look you're into, styles you look best in, and provides honest fashion advice. Founders Cathy and Corina promise care, commitment, and passion and thanks to them, making that perfect purchase is only a click and chat away.

Keep reading for an interview with Tobi's co-founders...

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Complex: So what does "1-to-1 Shopping" actually entail?
Cathy: It means our stylists can be reached by phone, via live chat, or by email. We greet customers with an approachable invitation to ask about products, trends, and general questions. We're real people who are knowledgeable, passionate about fashion and interested in helping.

Complex: Yeah, but like, do dudes really use the service?
Cathy: Yes! Men make excellent use of our stylists. They appreciate the efficiency and accessibility of our styling and sizing tips. And the speed and ease of placing an order.

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Complex: Speed is always good. What are the common questions that come up?
Cathy: Denim. Men are either looking to transition out of their current look or already are real denim buffs on the hunt for the next great jean. [Guys] contact us to help them select gifts for their ladies with sizing questions.

Complex: Any annoying customer experiences you want to share with us?
Cathy: Annoying? Are guys ever annoying? [Laughs] From time to time, we have male customers who ask the stylists out. We'll be assisting and the next thing we know—we're being propositioned for dinner. Although, I guess that falls more under the category of "brave" and "flattering."

Complex: Who came up with the name Tobi? What does it mean?
Cathy: Corina and I opened our brick-and-mortar, Azalea, in 2003 and because the customer's shopping experience is invaluable to us, we wanted to name our e-commerce site after our first customer—Tobi.

Complex: Whoa, I hope they were cool with it! What are some of your favorite websites/blogs for shopping, killing time, and checking out trends?
Cathy: For all of the above, Complex! And The Sartorialist and StreetEtiquette are two of our "go-to" street style blogs. Shout-outs to A Continuous Lean, Denimology, and BackyardBill. As for killing time? Laughing at the Selleck Waterfall Sandwich tumblr, and this newer tumblr from Peter Nguyen who is Robert Geller's design assistant. Great insight from a design perspective.

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Complex: What are the biggest trends in menswear right now, and which brands do you feel are really on top of them?
Marisa: Beach bum, nautical, plaid, preppy, blues. Shades of Greige has done a fantastic job of including the nautical stripe into their collection. Shipley & Halmos and Steven Alan have both tastefully captured "woodsy chic"—there's lots of plaid to go around! We're also seeing the "clean and preppy" look everywhere! J.Lindeberg puts the "prep" in our step.

Complex: You're so heavy into customer service, as an online spot that must be really hard. Does it get challenging?
Cathy: Maintaining a genuine connection and interaction with our customers is invaluable to us and we all make an effort. As a website-based business, we have to go that extra mile to make sure we successfully provide a shopping experience that mirrors (or better yet, bests) an in-store experience. We want it to be personal and without that face-to-face interaction, you have to really assert yourself to ensure that you aren't taken for some online robot.

Complex: Right. Even if robots are awesome... If Tobi was a brick-and-mortar spot, where would you put it and why?
Cathy: If we were to transform Tobi into a physical space, it would be great to be in New York City. Our foundation is already established in San Francisco, so we could branch out to our next favorite metropolis. Plus, you can't argue that New York City is central (and a haven) for emerging trends, young and well-known designers alike. And it has amazing street style and creative minds. 

Complex: Yeah, that sounds about right.

Tobi
www.tobi.com

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