Part One: Everyday D2C Apparel Guide to Dressing like S
Disclaimer: these reviews are based on the pieces S’s closet has gravitated towards. While there are gender directed notations throughout this post, I encourage readers to wear and identify with what works for you! Gender fluid apparel is an area that continues to grow, and I am interested in cultivating content in that direction as the industry itself becomes less segmented.
Since 2009, menswear sales growth has been on track to eclipse womenswear spending over the next few years (2018 L2 report). Companies are seeking to attract customers via new product lines (Lululemon, Madewell), experiences (Bonobos, Trunk Club), and technology (Ministry of Supply, Rhone).
Unlike me, S typically shops a few times a year to replace items. His wardrobe is pretty consistent from work week to weekend, alternating among button up shirts, sweaters, polos, jeans, and slacks. Overall, fit takes priority followed closely by quality and style. The versatility of the item is also pretty important since he will frequently mix and match items. Below is a roundup of the d2c brands and products S has been favoring:
The preeminent direct-to-consumer menswear success story has been Bonobos. Founded in 2007 with a single pair of pants, Bonobos grew to $150 million in revenue by 2017 before it was acquired by Walmart. Focusing on the shopping experience has allowed the company to breakthrough. Customers can head into Guide Shops to view apparel and try on for size. From there, the friendly store ninjas (Bonobos’ term customer service) help create an account, record your preferences, and complete your order. Of the five friends I chatted with for this post, Bonobos was the only brand they were all familiar and customers of. Across the board, the fit of the chinos stuck out as repeat purchases. Bonobos credits the perfect fit from gathering feedback and analyzing sales and returns to help edit the styles. Interestingly, the other appealing aspect of the shopping experience is due to the lack of store inventory at its locations. After you select and make your purchase, the orders are shipped for free to the address of your choosing. The Guide Shops do not hold excess inventory where you would exit with your order. My friends felt that it was a perk to not have to walk out with a bag. S primarily sticks with the stretch slim fit chinos ($88), having tried out a few polos but was not entirely happy with the quality and price. For 25% off of your first order, use this link.
Known for bringing yoga pants to the masses, Lululemon has emerged as a formidable disruptor for menswear. As business casual takes on new meaning, Lululemon’s menswear line is outpacing its other products. At $128, the ABC slim fit chinos are not easy on the wallet; however, the wrinkle-free and technical fabric allow S to move from casual to business casual seamlessly. These pants are actually annoying to me because when we travel he consistently is comfortable yet “dressed up” versus my sweatpants and a hoodie look. I think if the pricing was cheaper across the products, S would be more apt to adding pieces to his wardrobe. However, the quality has stood out in comparison to the higher cost, and I wouldn’t be surprised if S became a repeat purchaser.
I started noticing Criquet polos turning up in our laundry last year. The Austin-based brand bills itself as a call back to the golf shirts popularized in the Arnold Palmer era. The founders even brought on Luke Wilson as a partner to help drive home recreational wear off the range. I was surprised to find that despite being super soft, the polos are indeed constructed with 100% cotton. As a fervent shirt ironer, S has not needed to iron out the wrinkles post-wash. While $79 exceeds the polos he has from Banana Republic, S has been gravitating to Criquet as a comparable shirt to the Evolution Polo he has from Lululemon.
Harken back to my Everlane review last October. After watching shipment upon shipment arrive for several years, S ventured down to the Everlane store on Valencia where we waited 30 minutes for him to try on jeans (seriously though, why such a line). At $68, the slim fit jeans are his go-to denim, $20 cheaper than Bonobos, and more consistently sized than Levi’s. While he picked up a flannel shirt during a Choose what you pay price discount, S singles out denim as something he would buy again from Everlane (despite the seam he feels runs awkwardly near the calf). After taking a spin through the Bonobos fit dashboard, I will again beg Everlane to provide a similar feature for its customers. For an Everlane referral, use this link.
Ministry of Supply
We live near a Ministry of Supply shop on Fillmore street, and we were curious about the astronaut hanging in the storefront. Founded in 2012, the apparel brand is not pretending to be your average technical wear, instead using similar materials NASA astronauts have in their clothing to help regulate temperature. The dress shirts are supposed to help moderate moisture, odor, and maintain a professional demeanor. S took home the Aero performance shirt. The button-up is dressier than the other items in this roundup. I am personally not a fan that the shirt is primarily made of polyester and nylon. Visually, it appears to be a thicker weight and wrinkle resistant dress shirt. Upon touch, the shirt has a stiff and almost jacket like effect to it. At the higher end of the price range and due to comfortability, S has not been interested in trying other items out in the line.