Subscription boxes: the next generation

First came veg boxes, then Graze and Glossybox – now a whole new wave of subscription services are vying to be the next through your letterbox…

There was a time we thought exciting post was dead. Nobody wrote letters anymore, fewer sent postcards, the only surprise the postman would bring was whether or not those ASOS jeans would fit.

But then, in much the same way that fear and nostalgia has revived the fortunes of paper books and vinyl records, we decided to embrace post again. We’re using it rather than losing it. And one of the newest ways that we’re using it is subscription boxes.

Quietly, quickly, subscription boxes have become massive. It all started with organic veg companies like Riverford and Abel & Cole, then companies like Graze and Glossybox got in on the act, and now there’s barely any life luxury or necessity that you can’t get nattily packaged and delivered to your door for a monthly sum. Cosmetics, homewares, books, clothes, tampons, cheese. Hell, there are even sites like All Subscription Boxes which have been launched just to help you keep abreast of all the options.

Astute cynics might point out that you can, obviously, buy things you’ve actually chosen and have them delivered to your door – it’s called ‘shopping’. But in an era where dredging through the internet feels as much of a chore as stomping up the high street ever did, subscription boxes are so popular because they take away our burden of choice.

It’s the same reason my Mum has always fantasised about being sent a Christmas hamper. ‘How lovely it must be,’ she says every year, ‘to have lots of things you haven’t had to shop for! All those things you would never think to choose yourself.’ Whether you’d never choose them yourself because you don’t actually want them is by the by, and it’s how subscription services get away with the element of risk (that, and making sure that whatever they send you has been trussed up to the nines in tissue and ribbon).

Even if they send you something you hate, it’s fine because you didn’t have to waste time shopping for it. And hey, at least you got some exciting post.

12 great subscription boxes to surprise yourself with…

Style By Portobello

Style by Portobello

Ideal for vintage lovers who can’t face a regular market stall trawl, Style By Portobello ships beautiful secondhand accessories to your door every month. The service was founded by vintage collector and Notting Hill resident Nzinga Russell, who wanted to take the hassle out of the hunt for decent pieces and give vintage virgins a way to ease themselves in gently.

Sign up and you’ll receive one big piece, like a handbag, or up to three smaller items of jewellery or accessories every month, tailored to your tastes and preferences. Because the only reply better than “Oh this? It’s vintage…” is “Oh this? It just turned up on my doorstep.”

£35 a month

Lauren Bravo