A caution for other entrepreneurs about how one brand’s SEO strategy can undermine a more important outreach strategy.
Modern Fellows sent the below note to the founders of Boden, the stylish British clothing brand, in response to several emails the company sent regarding a link by Modern Fellows to Boden’s online menswear section.
Modern Fellows is an online effort to get to know the entrepreneurs who are helping men dress sharp in the digital age. In 2014, MF published a post, Not Just Another Tie: 6 Stylish Christmas Gift Ideas for Men, that pointed our readers to Boden’s fledgling menswear section. Boden produces really spectacular, stylish clothing for women, which I’ve bought for loved ones, and I wanted to feature the brand’s menswear for Modern Fellows’ readers.
Occasionally, when brands have discovered they are featured on Modern Fellows, I’ve received a short note of thanks from a founder or communications director. It’s a nice gesture. Instead, when Boden discovered that Modern Fellows had linked to them, a representative from the company sent multiple emails requesting that Modern Fellows remove the link to their site.
The reason? According to one of the emails Boden sent, “our marketing agency has informed us that search engines (specifically Google) could potentially view these as “unnatural links”, therefore negatively affecting both parties ability to rank in Google.”
Boden also threatened that, “any links that cannot be removed will be entered into our disavow file which could potentially be of detriment to your sites rankings in Google.” The message? Do what we say or your site could be negatively affected.
This is a baffling example of a seriously myopic SEO strategy and is a potential disaster for the brand’s media and influencer outreach strategy.
Modern Fellows takes pains to follow best practices that Google offers to create original, appealing and non-spammy content while simultaneously complying with U.S. federal regulations that require publishers to disclose when they have received a product for free.
Boden’s attitude is appalling for several reasons —
Now, because it seems to mean that much to you, Modern Fellows has removed the offending link to your site. (You don’t deserve the love.)
But next time, a short thank you note will suffice.]]>
One of Modern Fellows’ top menswear shops, Richmond-based Ledbury is good value all year round. Around Christmastime, there are good deals to be had on unique and great-fitting shirting and a range of gifts for men.
We’ve raved in the past about why Nordstrom is head-and-shoulders above most of its competitors. It’s a department store for the digital age that carries a range of up-and-coming designers and brands including Bonobos, colorful socks, original sweaters, slim-but-not-skinny ties and much more.
Founded in 2011 by then 25-year old engineer Michael Preysman, Everlane promotes “radical transparency” in its supply chain, providing some visibility into input costs and the workers behind the clothing. (On Black Friday, Everlane donated profits to help improve the lives of workers at its factories in Vietnam.) The company makes quality men’s wardrobe staples including soft t-shirts, super-comfortable cashmere crew and v-neck sweaters, fleece pants, backpacks and a natty wool overcoat for under $300.
Bonobos launched as an online-only brand in 2007 as the brainchild of Stanford Business School classmates Andy Dunn and Brian Spaly. While it began with a focus on chinos, the company today carries a range of menswear staples including sweaters, button down shirts, suiting, neckties, cold weather accessories and denim. Several years ago, Bonobos began opening a series of storefronts called Guideshops that help customers get a better feel for their products (and if you live near one, you can go scout out potential gifts in person)
House of Fraser is a delightful British department store that is worth a visit whenever you’re in London. Their online shop, which ships internationally, is also worth a look for British takes on ties, accessories, shirts, suiting and knitwear.
J Crew has had its ups and downs over the years, but is back on the upswing with a refreshed line of casualwear and amazing Ludlow suiting. The company is also focusing on a line of cozy menswear-only stores, including a new outpost on 14th Street NW in Washington, DC.
Netherlands-based Suit Supply frustrates with overly-pushy staff who attempt to up-sell you at every turn, but you can’t argue with their aesthetic, which pushes the style envelope. Flashy suits mingle with a variety of stylish ties, dress shirts, shoes and accessories that will keep you going back for more long after the holidays are over.]]>
Here’s a quick roundup of 2016 Black Friday and Cyber Monday sales and discount codes and coupons from some of our favorite innovative menswear brands who are helping men dress sharp in the digital age:
50% Off Selected Styles + Free Shipping During the Allen Edmonds Black Friday Sale.
For Black Friday – Cyber Monday: Aces (Birchbox VIPs) receive 20% off, subscribers to Birchbox receive 15% off, and everyone else receives 10% off site-wide at Birchbox with $30+ purchase (including subscriptions). Codes: 10FORALL 15FORSUBS 20FORACES
Up to 50% a great selection of sweaters, shirts, boxers, accessories and made-in-America bowties.
Black Friday – 20% Off Everything at Charles Tyrwhitt with Code USA2016 Valid 11/22 through 11/28. (See Modern Fellows’ review of Charles Tyrwhitt.)
Some of our favorite socks are 30% off with code BLACK16
15% off $250, 20% off $500, and 25% off $800 with code GOBIG16
Pretty cool: Everlane is donating its Black Friday profits to improve the lives of its factory workers in Vietnam.
15% Off first orders with code NEWNOVEMBER
Up to 50% off shirts, blazers and more from this DC gem.
Any 2 Premium Suits For $739 during its Black Friday event using code 2SUITS & Up to 70% off with code BLKFRI
40 percent off everything at La Redoute using the code BLACKFRIDAY.
Up to 30% off.
Up to 30% off at one of Putthison’s favorite stores.
From November 24 – Revolve has up to 65% off Menswear. Save 20% off final sale for men this Cyber Monday with code: Cyber20. Valid 11/28 through 11/29.
30% OFF Todd Snyder and Todd Snyder + Champion apparel from 11/23 – 11/28.
Free pair of holiday socks with $40 order with code STRIPE40. Ends 11/27.]]>
Here at Modern Fellows, we have come to know New York-based Proper Cloth fairly well over the past few years.
In 2013, we reviewed a Proper Cloth dress shirt for the first time, visited their then temporary showroom and spoke with founder Seph Skerritt. Modern Fellows concluded that —
Proper Cloth’s photos pull you in, but the fabrics, customer service and enthusiasm and execution from Seph and his colleagues … ought to make you stay. The photos, descriptions, and community commentary… convey unparalleled information about Proper Cloth’s shirts and help diminish the uncertainty surrounding custom shirts…Proper Cloth offers an opportunity with its customer service guarantee to perfect your fit, while their amazing photos, quick turnaround times and quality shirting lure you back for more.
We’ve reminded readers that they can score a $20 discount coupon on their first Proper Cloth custom shirt purchase by using this link.
And in 2015, we named Proper Cloth one of 13 amazing sites to shop for menswear because “it’s easy to perfect the fit, the fabrics are amazing, and their customer service guarantee is solid.”
But what do others say? Here’s a look —
The Silentist concludes that,
For the price of the shirt and the quality received, I’d say that Proper Cloth exceeds other MTM shirtmakers I’ve used in the past and I can give them a recommendation… If you’re considering Proper Cloth, then give them a try – especially if you already have a well-fitting shirt you can base your measurements off. In case the shirt doesn’t fit you, their customer service is pretty top notch and they’ll work to get your fit right.
Wide Eyes Tight Wallets reviewed Proper Cloth’s custom dress shirts in 2014 and observed that,
Proper Cloth won’t let you down… To put it most simply — Pros: Easy Measuring System; Customization Options; Fabric Selection; Turnaround Time; Fit; Quality; Construction; Perfect Fit Guarantee. Not much not to love. Cons: Price. Really, I can’t think of anything else here, and… you get what you pay for.
Dress Like A suggests that,
Proper Cloth exceeds many other online MTM-shirtmakers I’ve seen so far.
Life, Tailored calls Proper Cloth shirts,
The Best Custom Shirt You’ll Ever Own… Do yourself a favor and treat yourself to one of these. But we must warn you, you won’t be able to stop at just one.
Quartz awards Proper Cloth the best web design, noting,
The foundation of a shirt is the fabric its made of, and a quick look at the online custom landscape will show you that just about every site out there has a bunch to choose from. The problem is they don’t always make it easy to do so. That’s where the New York company Proper Cloth, which launched in 2008, has a clear advantage over its peers…The site’s interface lets you easily sort fabrics according to a range of criteria, from basic qualities, such as color, pattern, and price, to fine-grained details, including thread count and thickness. Want a light-blue broadcloth with a thread count of at least 120 for work? Or a heavyweight charcoal flannel for the weekend? Proper Cloth makes it simple to search for either.
On Yelp, Proper Cloth boasts more than 300 reviews with an average five stars as of this writing, including this one:
My new Proper Cloth shirt isn’t just a shirt. It’s the start of a new wardrobe that makes me look and feel as close to great as is possible. Seriously, Proper Cloth is THAT good.
And from the Naked Poop?
a magical moment (partnership, even) when consumption preferences and a company’s product offerings converge… I had chanced upon Proper Cloth (through Style Forum)…they have become my de facto shirt provider.
What do you think of Proper Cloth’s custom shirts?]]>
It is easy to think of Amazon.com as a glorified big box store, but you can find all sorts of unique gifts and staples there, including some fresh menswear articles from up-and-coming brands. Here’s a look at 5 essential pieces from menswear startups that you can nab quickly on Amazon.
Daniel Wellington helped usher in the current watch craze, and has stuck to its knitting over the past several years, pushing out simple, gorgeous watches for men and women. Founded by Swedish entrepreneur Filip Tysander, these preppy timepieces have elegant appeal and a smaller watch face than many in-your-face models.
Tie Your Socks makes supremely comfortable socks. Their designs are bright, flashy and quirky but push the envelope without jumping the shark. (They also make ties, though those same flashy designs are harder to swallow draped around your neck.) The company also donates one pair of socks for every purchase to a community organization that train and cloth people in need.
Jeff Shafer founded Agave Denim in 2002 in Santa Monica California with a goal “of designing and crafting beautiful, inspired and authentic denim products using only the highest quality materials.” Their denim and knits are made by hand in California and project what the company calls “West Coast Luxury” and it’s those knits and jeans that stand out at Amazon.
Entrepreneur Ricardo Puentes established Puentes Denver in 2011 in, you guessed it. The brand offers pretty snazzy pocket squares on Amazon, as well as a selection of men’s ties and accessories. Its pitch? “A deft hand for quality and a discerning eye for timeless style.” See for yourself.
You can’t open a men’s magazine these days without seeing a plug for a tie clip, tie, or socks from TheTieBar.com. Kudos to their marketing team. There is a good reason these ties fly off the shelves. The company issues simple, affordable riffs of ties and socks that often look like more expensive counterparts. Just make sure you realize what you’re getting here: You can’t get a real grenadine tie for twenty bucks, but The Tie Bar’s Grenafaux version comes close.]]>
Avenue Jack is the brainchild of DC resident Scott Wallis. Wallis, who lives nearby and staffs the store regularly along with a handful of friendly and laid-back colleagues, has a background in the apparel business as owner of kids-focused House of Mongrel. This is his first foray into menswear.
The independent menswear store is a welcome addition to the Dupont Circle neighborhood and to the menswear community in the DMV, taking its place alongside other recent additions including Blank Label, Frank and Oak, Read Wall and Trunk Club along with the more established Suit Supply DC. (Washingtonian has a nice article featuring Avenue Jack and 3 other unique places to shop in Washington DC.)
The store trends casual with beach trunks, henleys and jeans, though there is a decent selection of dressier accessories including ties from Thetiebar, pocket squares, underwear from Bread and Soda and umbrellas.
There is also a unique selection of gifts for men and District of Columbia-themed odds-and-ends.
Wallis and his team are hosting “First Friday” events, a casual way to introduce the brand to the local community over free drinks.
Our only regret? Avenue Jack replaced Copenhaver, a terrific local stationary store – further evidence of the pressures of e-commerce and email on local businesses that sell things made of paper.
Avenue Jack, 1301 Connecticut Ave., NW
Online custom suit tailor Lanieri boasts an impressive Italian pedigree. The European menswear startup sources its fabrics from storied Italian wool mills such as Reda, Tallia di Delfino, Loro Piana and Vitale Barberis Canonico.
Receive a $100 discount off your first purchase from Lanieri by entering code MODERNFELLOWS at checkout.
Go behind the brand with co-founder Riccardo Schiavotto, and check out Modern Fellows’ review of Lanieri’s online custom suit.
Lanieri makes the online intake process easy and delivers an extraordinarily well-crafted, Italian-made suit that offers impressive value for money. For men who are willing to take the time to measure themselves and perfect the fit of that first suit, it’s hard to see how you could be disappointed with Lanieri’s high-end fabrics and construction. Highly-recommended.
Menswear blogs are great, but sometimes it is nice to curl up with an actual, substantial, physical book to learn more about menswear philosophies and style trends. To follow are 10 of our favorite books on mens’ fashion and style.
Flusser is the reigning modern day authority on male style and dress. Dressing is equal parts history, photography, and diary of the rules of dress that quotes Oscar Wilde, places Gordon Gekko in historical context and walks the reader through how to tie a bow tie.
Fashion experts Steven Vogel, Nicholas Schonberger and Calum Gordon profile 50 brands that have been innovating in menswear over the past decade including Engineered Garments and Gitman Bros. An excellent tour of independent menswear.
True Style, Boyer’s superb tome from 1990, flows from American economist Thorstein Veblen’s and English philosopher Herbert Spencer’s treatment of style at the turn of the 20th Century all the way through American and European designers of the 1980s. Dated in spots (Raleighs, “the capital’s department store of menswear,” which used to reside at 1133 Connecticut Ave. NW, closed in the early 1990s) — it’s still a great read. True Style, his latest, is a collection of reflections about menswear, through which his trademark appreciation of history continues to flow.
Sir Hardy famously quipped that, “A man should look as if he has bought his clothes with intelligence, put them on with care and then forgotten all about them.”
Not your typical guide to custom suiting, J.J. Lee weaves a history of the suit into a story about what it means to be a man that is at turns raw, sad and hopeful. It is “a heartbreaking page-turner about a family, an abusive father, and men’s fashion,” according to a Jury Citation for Charles Taylor Prize for Literary Non-Fiction, which observes, “Who could have thought these themes could work together?”
While oversized coffee-table books are often more for show than for reading, Musgrave blends a stunning pictorial history of men’s fashion with eight engaging narratives that trace the history of the suit and how men have adapted it throughout the years.
Crompton’s slim volume hits many of the same notes as other guides to men’s style, starting from very basic concepts such as the differences between bespoke, made-to-measure and off the rack suiting. Tailoring stands out through a series of “words from the wise” — vignettes featuring English entrepreneurs like Patrick Murphy, the Head Cutter at Huntsman UK, and Michael Drake, the founder of Drake’s UK.
Esquire’s 1957 guide is a reminder that much has changed in the world of menswear and yet much remains the same.
The author’s faux-haughty style can wear at times, but The Suit contains some useful knowledge and witty commentary.
Antonio Centeno (“Dress Like a Man”) and Rob van Tongeren (“Effortless Outfits”) are two well-respected bloggers who have Kindle books out on Amazon. Each, in his own way, produces a guide to help men feel more confident in the clothes they buy and in laying out outfits from their closets. Both authors also offer a free look inside their books on Amazon, so you can start reading before you decide whether it’s worth plunking down some money.]]>
Black Lapel is fast becoming one of the deans of online custom suiting for men. Modern Fellows caught up with co-founder Derek Tian in the company’s brand new showroom in New York recently to discuss Black Lapel’s new fall collection and upcoming plans.
Derek was focused on readying Black Lapel’s fall custom suiting collection, which is now available online. The collection is heavy on rich browns and reds, including a daring maroon tuxedo and red windowpane offering.
The jewel of the collection is two Rivington offerings. Derek noted high demand for last year’s Rivington — a micro-herringbone pattern that gives subtle texture — in dusk blue. The new collection features Rivingtons (pictured above and below) in grey and brown.
Beyond the suits, Black Lapel is also refreshing its topcoats for winter. Topcoat fabrics will include improved fabric performance this year, as the company tinkered with the flannel finish and added new colors and design features.
Derek and co-founder Warren Liao are also in the middle of tricking out their new showroom and office space at 10 East 38th Street in midtown Manhattan (pictured above). The showroom portion is already up and running and looks sharp, as is the glass conference room where we met.
Black Lapel appears laser-focused on the basics — regularly refreshing and improving fabric offerings, building out a welcoming in-person option for potential customers to get to know their brand, and online user acquisition.
They also continue to look for opportunities to partner with complementary, like-minded and cool brands to expand their attractiveness and reach — building on past experiences like the innovative Dapper Man popup. During my visit, they were hosting Stuart and Lau — a New York and Hong Kong-based company that makes exquisite umbrellas and unique bags and briefcases for men — for a pop-up (pictured below) at their showroom.
Black Lapel’s new suiting collection and topcoats provide a reason to look forward to winter.
Photo credits: Photos of the Black Lapel FW16 collection are courtesy of Black Lapel]]>
Can the entrepreneurs behind New York-based startup Away transform the travel goods industry? They’re off to a good start with a first-class carry-on suitcase at a coach price.
I travel. A lot. And my go-to piece of luggage – a heavy and slightly-clunky, battered and bright-red Victorinox 21 inch roller that can usually be jammed into an overhead bin – is always an afterthought until I have to lug it around the streets of Berlin or Havana or through the seemingly never-ending corridors of Washington Dulles Airport. On those journeys, I often wonder why I don’t invest in a new bag.
Then I come home, stick my suitcase in the closet and don’t think about it again until the next trip – in no-small part because the idea of throwing down $800 or more to upgrade my luggage makes me shudder.
Enter Away Travel, launched in February by Stephanie Korey and Jen Rubio (pictured above), two Warby Parker alumni who conceived of the business after finding deficiencies with their own luggage and becoming appalled by the cost of existing replacement options.
“I found myself wondering, when I went to a luggage store, ‘why do I see a $1,000 price tag’?” Steph observed during a recent interview in her Manhattan office. “Does it really cost that much to make a plastic box on wheels?”
The two friends investigated and found that most luggage is marked up for retail 5 to 10 times over the cost of production with hefty profits split between distributors and retailers.
They thought they could do better by removing the intermediary. The two entrepreneurs pooled their complementary skills – Jen ran social media for Warby Parker and subsequently headed innovation for All Saints from London, while Steph managed supply chain for the eyeglass company and consulted for mattress startup Casper – and set out to solve luggage as a first step.
(After all, who better to start up the “Warby Parker of travel” than two Warby Parker alumni?)
Away held focus groups with over 800 individuals from a variety of backgrounds – artists, CEOs, college students and retirees – and heard similar wishes and complaints. Everyone wanted lightweight luggage, durable zippers, quality rotating wheels and an interior that seemed like someone had actually put some thought into it.
They also asked the focus group participants to step back and describe other pain points and frustrations while traveling. The most common? Dead phones and tablets.
Away’s response? To integrate an easily accessible rechargeable lithium-ion battery into their signature carryon piece – along with high-class wheels, durable zippers, a lightweight frame and a series of internal compartments and a compression packing system.
And the cost? A remarkable $225 for their 19-inch carry-on roller with free shipping and a lifetime warranty.
Since launching in February, Steph said the response from consumers has been “extremely overwhelming.” Sales were double projections for the first month, then doubled again the second month, and have taken off from there. Her team has grown from 4 in March to 20 as of June 1. Media attention has been pretty stellar too, with coverage in Vogue, Wallpaper, New York Magazine and Esquire among other publications.
Away recently debuted two larger-size pieces of luggage and has even bigger ambitions for the future.
“We are a travel brand, not a luggage company,” said Steph. She and Jen want to identify pain points associated with travel and make the entire experience as seamless and hassle-free as possible.
The company is already telegraphing new directions including by opening a temporary concept shop in NoHo in New York. The store features Away’s luggage, a quirky combination of travel accessories, games, food and trinkets from Japan and Sweden and the company’s newest product, a soft, attractive “blarf” – a combination blanket and scarf for airplanes – that is eminently more appealing than its nickname.
The team also launched The Upgrade, a curated travel journal that, over time, aims to provide trusted recommendations for travelers.
Visit Away Travel online. Their concept store at 325 Lafayette Street is open until September 2016.
Photo credit: Lead photo courtesy of Away Travel.]]>