Just because you can’t wear jeans every day doesn’t mean you have to give up on comfort. These menswear startups offer some damn fine chinos that can transition from the office to the bar — along with compelling business models — all for under $100. Consider them for more modern and affordable alternatives to Brooks Brothers.
“There’s a lot of — for lack of a better word — lying in the retail industry,” Everlane co-founder Michael Preysman suggests. “You don’t know where things are made or how they’re made or what the actual costs are.” And in 2010, Preysman, along with co-founder Jesse Farmer, set out to change that. Through ethical factories and a notion of “radical transparency,” Everlane provides high-quality, conscientiously made garments at reasonable prices. The San Francisco-based company offers a breakdown for the true cost of each item, as well as information about the specific factory the item came from. Made of a sturdy 8.1 oz cotton twill in Vietnam, their Heavyweight Tapered Chinos offers a modern, slim fit for an equally slim price tag of $68. The hook and bar closure tab elevates these chinos from everyday wear to suitable for special occasions.
Literally meaning “global citizen,” Los Angeles-based Apolis strives for “advocacy through industry” and sees the value of a truly global marketplace. Founded in 2004 by brothers Raan and Shea Farmer, Apolis has created hundreds of sustainable jobs in developing countries, living up to their high standards of societal and environmental impact. Made in Peru and dyed using environmentally friendly dyes, the Standard Issue Utility Chinois anything but. Suitable to be dressed up or down, the modern cut and attention to stitching detail will make this pant a staple in your closet. Offered in five colors for $98.
For a bespoke look without a visit to a tailor, Taylor Stitch has you immaculately covered. Inspired by a desire for well-fitting, sophisticated clothes, Michael Armenta, Barrett Purdum, and Michael Maher created Taylor Smith in a San Francisco apartment in 2008. Calling their clothes “overbuilt,” Taylor Stitch aims to make clothes that fit simply and beautifully for all of life’s occasions. Implementing an innovative crowdsourcing platform for new collections they call The Workshop, Taylor Stitch is reducing waste by only producing what the consumers want. In their essentials line of products (available sans crowd funding) is the elegantly sleek Democratic Chino. Made in Spain with a durable 9.5 oz brushed twill, these pants have comfortable and tailored fit. With the unique detail of vintage San Francisco maps lining the pockets, these $98 slacks make a nice addition to your wardrobe.
Frank and Oak
Socially conscious Canadian company Frank and Oak is creating thoughtfully designed clothing from sustainable materials. Founded by friends Ethan Song and Hicham Ratnani in 2012, Frank and Oak hopes to provide an elegant yet comfortable wardrobe. Their And* campaign seeks to spread a message of inclusion, tearing down divisive walls and building up community. In addition to providing jobs for women in need, $5 of every And* purchase goes to Equitas, an organization which seeks to end poverty and injustice around the world. Frank and Oak also offers a monthly clothing subscription plan for the man too busy to shop. The Newport Chino at $59.50 is the least expensive pant on our list, but no one will call these slacks cheap. Made of stretch cotton, this straight cut design offers a bit more room for a more relaxed fit, but still appropriate for the work day or weekend barbecue. With eight colors to choose from, the Newport Chino could easily become your go-to pair of pants.
Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly founded Bonobos in 2007 in order to compensate for the lack of good-fitting pants. The two spent countless hours in an attempt to perfect the way mens’ pants were designed. Their solution that took the internet by storm rests in the design of their signature waistband. The company, since acquired by Walmart, currently hails as the largest U.S. clothing brand to get started as a born-online e-commerce shop. They also sport about 50 Guideshop locations around the United States, including several in the Washington, DC area — like this one in Shaw. For a pair of Chinos that are equal parts stylish and comfortable, check out Bonobo’s Washed Chinos. They’re made from 100% cotton and are available in tailored, slim, athletic and straight, as well as in a ton of classic and trendy colors. As of this writing, they are available on their website going for $58-$88.
Tom Kay founded Finisterre back in 2003 as a British shop for surfers and sea lovers to buy specialized fleeces to protect against chilly winds. Today, the brand offers a range of stylish and sustainable apparel with functionality in mind for men and women. The headquarters are off the beaten path in St Agnes, Cornwall in the United Kingdom, but they have a shop in London and offer worldwide shipping from their website. Finisterre’s Upton trousers are a great pick if you’re looking for a classic style chino made of a soft, slightly-stretchy blend of 97% cotton and 3% elastane. They are made in Portugal and are designed for comfort and durability. The Upton pants are garment-died in color options and feature buttoned rear welt pockets.
Flint and Tinder by Huckberry
Huckberry was founded Andy Forch and Richard Greiner over a chairlift in Sqaw Valley in 2010 to create a brand for young men in the city like themselves that would serve as a mashup of store, magazine and inspiration to get outdoors. The company was born from 100% sweat equity from the duo and has proven to have built something made to last. The company snapped up fellow startup Flint and Tinder in 2016, a brand best known for made-in-American underwear and the “10 year hoodie,” Made in Los Angeles from a 97% cotton and lycra blend, Flint and Tinder’s 365 Pants in gray are a light, stylish, stretchy, and comfortable pair of chinos for $98
Jason Ross founded JackThreads in 2008 to give men a cool and stylish source for discount fashion apparel. The company has experienced its share of ups-and-downs, having been sold to Thrillist and then briefly shutting its doors in 2017. They made a comeback and today targets guys in their mid-twenties with a rotating selection of super-affordable wardrobe basics. Their Slim Chino Pant comes in charcoal, khaki, navy, olive, silver, and stone and it’s made from 100% cotton twill. They retail on the site for $40, but can go down to less than $20 on sale.