Bonobos-Bethesda-Interior-shotRapidly-growing online retailer Bonobos is bringing its contribution to alternative brick-and-mortar retail to the Washington, DC area. On November 7, the company opened the doors of a temporary Guide Shop on Bethesda Row, joining others in New York, Boston, Chicago and Palo Alto. The Bethesda location is only around for the holidays, and will be succeeded in the new year by a permanent installation in Cady’s Alley in Georgetown.

The guide shop is an effort to provide a personal interface for customers skeptical of buying clothing online.  The idea, which requires some explaining to curious passer-byes walking in off the street, is to create an “e-commerce showroom” where men can make appointments or wander in to try on the company’s product line and speak with personal shoppers.  (While Bonobos encourages individuals to make guide shop appointments via their website, unlike their New York outpost, which occupies a smaller footprint in its 5th floor headquarters on West 25th Street, potential customers are welcome to walk into the Bethesda and, presumably, future Georgetown locations.)

The company does not stock inventory on site, however, and only maintains representative items for guys to try.  For instance, if you are interested in purchasing their Foundation grey suit in a 40R, you may have to try on their navy version instead in your size. Once you find the correct fit, you can then place an order at the shop which is then shipped free to your preferred location.

Bonobos gave me the standard treatment for guide shop patrons, taking me around the Bethesda showroom, describing their product lines and suggesting some pieces to try on in their fitting room.  In the interest of full disclosure, the company also offered to gift me a pair of their signature washed chinos as an introduction to the brand.  Below is a photo tour of the guide shop based on my recent visit.

I have to admit to looking past Bonobos when it first opened, as its emphasis on chinos, non-iron pants, button downs and other business casual staples — however well-tailored — are outside the scope of this blog.  They still have all of those things in spades but, over time, the company has also introduced new tailored and professional clothing lines including suits, ties, dress shirts, outerwear and shoes.  (Recently, they debuted the Donegal, pictured below, a heavy three piece, Made-in-the-USA suit for the holidays.)


My experience over the past several days suggests a young, entrepreneurial company with a team which is enthusiastic about the fit of their clothes, brand, growth prospects, and customer service.   While I have yet to become a customer, after touring the guide shop and seeing Bethesda Row all decked out for Christmas, it might be about time to put something from Bonobos on my holiday wish list.

Photo credits: The interior shot appearing at the beginning of this article, the donegal suit above, and two others noted in the captions below are courtesy of Bonobos. All other photos taken by Modern Fellows with permission.


Is it Christmastime already? Bonobos temporary guide shop is on Bethesda Row, which is decked out for the holidays.


Ties, socks and accessories tend towards the whimsical. While the company offers some non-iron dress shirts with neck and sleeve length sizing, many of their regular dress shirts only come in alphabetical sizes (S, M, L, etc.)



Photo courtesy of Bonobos



Photo courtesy of Bonobos

About Jake

Jake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age.  Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.

Other cool stuff:

* The Essential List: These 41 innovative startup brands will transform your wardrobe
* Discover more than 30 thoughtful gift ideas for men from unique shirts to colorful socks
* Shop Modern Fellows' list of recommended menswear brands.
* Search 12 Thoughtful Gift Ideas for the Modern Dad for Fathers' Day, Christmas or his birthday
* Browse our list of essential men's style books.
* Discover the best places to buy men's socks online.
* Check out these gorgeous, affordable watches with numbers
* Find Alternatives to Warby Parker that also let you try on prescription eyeglasses at home.
* Explore 10 options for amazing chinos from these menswear startup alternatives to Brooks Brothers.
* Get $25 off your first suit at Black Lapel, one of our favorite online custom tailors.
* Score $20 off your first shirt at Proper Cloth, one of our favorite online custom shirtmakers.