Whether your go-to outfit is a suit and tie, jeans and a tee or sweats, chances are you’ve bought most of your wardrobe mainstays online. That’s not just a function of the COVID-19 world; last year, Digital Commerce 360 reported that online clothing purchases accounted for nearly 40 percent of all clothing sales, and nearly all sales growth for clothing retailers.
Add in the fact that so many major clothing retailers (like the venerable Brooks Brothers, denim mainstay Lucky Brand, department stores like Neiman Marcus and Lord & Taylor, and preppy lifestyle line J. Crew) are teetering near insolvency, and it’s likely that the newest and most innovative menswear and accessories don’t even make it to traditional stores.
But savvy retailers have learned that a good website and holiday discount codes aren’t enough. The most interesting entries in the marketplace can often be found trying to meet new customers by way of their most direct and effective influence, social media. And nowhere is that direct-to-consumer sales tactic more apparent than Instagram.
With everything from sneakers to watches to custom suits available through the app, Insta has become the go-to for style-conscious shoppers and fashion bloggers.
Here’s our curated list of favorites from across the personal style spectrum, just for the guys.
One of the older entities to top our list is Saturdays NYC, which began in 2009 as a small shop in New York’s Soho neighborhood. Just over a decade later, Saturdays is a true style maker, billing itself as focused on “high-quality craftsmanship, a minimalist ethos, and classic style.”
The evolution into a full lifestyle brand has resulted in collaborations with well-known men’s style brands, including a motorcycle jacket in water repellent wax cotton manufactured by Barbour. Saturdays demonstrates their commitment to being a lifestyle brand by offering products not just for the workweek; they offer drinkware, their own line of men’s grooming products in minimalist packaging (try the $24 container of Wet Wax, to put a shine and maximum hold and keep that barbershop fresh look), and even solid gentlemen’s toys like a beautiful quad fish Jeff McCallum surfboard.
McCallum can trace his lineage as a surfboard shaper all the way back to Hawaiian legend Duke Kahanamoku, and like the venerable Barbour jacket, Saturdays NYC presents refined modern goods strongly rooted in tradition, updated with new technology and innovation.
Dutch-based suit retailer Suit Supply has shaken up the US market with its high style, medium price entries into the business world. The suits, which offer a heavy European influence (think Marcello Mastroianni in La Dolce Vita), are well-cut with rakish lapels and a fit far closer to custom than the off-the-rack manufacturers found in most department stores.
But while their suits offer plenty of dapper flair, you won’t find a lot of loud patterns and busy design here; the Insta is far more likely to feature a core product like an all-white sneaker made out of Italian calf leather, one of the company’s most popular recent products.
The company’s own website boasts that they combine craftsmanship with flair for “people who want to be seen.” Their Instagram also offers embedded stories featuring new arrivals and a series of snaps featuring celebrities (like Alan Cumming or Diddy) wearing Suit Supply clothes.
The Spanish up and comer Mango Man combines technology with fast fashion for a worldwide footprint that looks stylish no matter what continent you’re on.
The recent men’s collection IMPROVED, released in September, was built on a limited palette of colors, mostly navy, charcoal and white, for the urban consumer. Made of water-repellent, thermoregulating, machine-washable and even crease-resistant fabrics, these innovative clothes are made to withstand the specific demands of city living, while their IDENIM lines feature denim products that are almost entirely made out of sustainable materials.
All of this happens at a price point geared towards the fashion-conscious yet budget-constrained shopper.
Once you leave the office, guys looking for something out of the ordinary for a Saturday on the links need look no further than the fun collections of William Murray Golf.
With styling inspired by Bill Murray’s golf stories (three Murray brothers—Bill, Brian and Joel—are members of the Caddie’s Hall of Fame), the site features a full menswear line that ranges from on course, to the 19th hole, to business casual.
Shinola Detroit started as a watch company seven years ago. They manufacture their goods out of the historic Argonaut building in Detroit and have since branched out into bags, jewelry, sunglasses, bicycles, even a gorgeous Detroit-centric Monopoly gift set where Woodward Avenue takes the place of Boardwalk as the game’s priciest piece of real estate. Side note: Woodward Avenue, the dividing line between Detroit’s East and West sides, also is the home of the country’s first mile of concrete-paved roadway.
Among their most popular core products are the watches of the Detrola collection. Like the other Shinola watches, these timepieces are assembled by hand in Detroit from Swiss and other imported parts, but unlike the company’s first, bulkier timepieces, the watches of the Detrola collection offer a wide array of colors and, using interchangeable nylon bands, dozens of possible color combinations. The good service and strong warranty (most Shinola products are guaranteed for life) make their timepieces a good investment too.
Another specialty manufacturer making waves on the Gram is York Athletics, makers of unisex footwear designed for athletic training but stylish enough to be everyday streetwear too. A family concern, in 2016, the company partnered with sneaker industry veteran Mark McGarry to reinvent itself as a company focused on footwear inspired by the “everyday fighter.”
Tracing its roots to 1946 when it was incarnated as the Indian Head Shoe Manufacturing Company, some of Boston-based York’s historic clients include NFL Hall of Fame quarterback John Unitas (who they fitted with his signature black high-top leather cleats), and Olympic figure skater and commentator Peggy Fleming.
That legacy continues with its current products, including the Gail, a stylish sneaker designed in collaboration with Aly Raisman, the third most decorated gymnast in the history of American gymnastics.
The modern shoe comes with a modern purpose too; with each pair sold, York donates a pair to Heading Home, the Boston area’s leading provider of emergency to permanent housing assistance for the homeless.
While Stag Provisions offers some brick and mortar locations (Austin and Dallas survive, while the Venice, CA location recently shuttered due to COVID), their Instagram and website both give a good view into the company’s open embrace of individual style.
The company bills itself as an “emporium of essentials” for the modern gentleman, but that gentleman is broadly defined, as the collections and products take inspiration from such style icons as Cary Grant, Steve McQueen, and James Dean.
With an Insta that features new products (45 kinds of new socks in stock, anyone?) and a vibe that leans heavily to classic tailoring and style, Stag wants you to browse a while. That might be why in-store visitors can ask for a beer, a definite plus and maybe an inspiration for those impulse purchases.
Our Honorable Mentions
Looking for some inspiration and some more shops to explore? Here are some bonus accounts to help you refresh your look.
Taking its style inspiration from a lot of denim, activewear, and high-end sneakers, the shots on Men With Street Style take a good look at outfits with a strong active and urban vibe. If your own vibe is more coat and tie, or after six, check out their partner Men With Class, with a focus on suits, resort wear, and luxury.
Adam Gallagher took his travel-focused blog, IamGalla, and expanded it to an influential Instagram account of the same name. While the virus has slowed travel, Gallagher recently announced his intention to find new ways to partner with more socially conscious companies.
Jose Zuniga’s Teaching Men’s Fashion shows examples of basic style, accessorizing, and budget-conscious style, including $49 Jade Black sunglasses made from Italian acetate and polarized lenses, and a menswear collaboration available at Walmart.
And no outfit is finished without the perfect pair of kicks, which is the focus of Hypebeast, the best known and most popular sneaker-focused account on Instagram.
With a little help from your Instagram feed and following the right accounts, you can kiss the need for an expensive stylist goodbye. All you need is a handful of stylish men, a few fashion influencers, and maybe a fashion blogger or two, and you’ll have your finger on the pulse of all the biggest names in the fashion industry.
Looking for some outfit inspiration? A new way to style your favorite retro t-shirt? A quick search through the #ootd hashtag will bring you all the inspo you could ever need.
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