The internet hasn’t killed off the mail-order catalog. Discover a list of popular mail order catalogs from direct-to-consumer clothing and home brands who are banking on physical snail-mail pieces as an analog way of standing out in the digital age.
I would have bet that mail-order catalogs would have been a casualty of the internet age. Yet as Black Friday rolled around, my household was inundated with a stack of slick clothing and footwear catalogs from innovative clothing brands
It turns out that rumors of the death of the mail order catalog have been greatly exaggerated.
Popular mail order catalogs are making a comeback
There are 2 reasons why catalogs are making a comeback:
Brands increasingly have a problem getting in front of customers online.
The internet has made it easier than ever to start a direct-to-consumer e-commerce company, creating a crowded landscape of impressive entrepreneurs and innovative retail brands that makes it difficult to stand out.
Consumers find it increasingly difficult to keep up, even with their favorite brands.
Everyone is inundated by ads from brands over their social media channels. It’s getting harder and harder to keep up with email newsletters, sales and deals anymore. (Though you can keep track of discounts and coupons from innovative men’s clothing brands list of online menswear deals and sales.)
And many shoppers want to be able to touch, feel and try on a brand’s offerings before making a purchase.
Snail mail catalogs are one strategy that enables digital retailers and innovative brands to stand out.
I don’t know about you, but I don’t open about 99% of the advertising emails I receive, but I will take at least a minute to browse a catalog that looks interesting that I receive in the mail. And if it looks really interesting, I might tear out a few pages and seed a couple of gift ideas for my family.
These popular retailers send out mail order catalogs
This is a list of some of the most popular mail order catalogs from fashion, clothing and lifestyle brands. I have listed details on how to request a catalog if I could find them.
- Amazon has been expanding its private-label fashion brands for men and women. (Check out Modern Fellows’ guide to Goodthreads and other Amazon Prime Brands for Men, and overview of Amazon Fashion Brands for Women including Lark and Ro.) Our family received two catalogs this year from Amazon: A fashion gift guide and a separate kids’ toy book, part of its efforts to develop into an omni-channel retailer.
- Anthropologie is a great alternative to J. Crew for flowy dresses and boho fashion. Request an Anthropologie catalog online.
- Ashro features African-inspired fashion for women. Request an Ashro mail-order catalog online.
- Bespoke Post offers “goods and guidance” via monthly subscription boxes. You can also purchase clothing and unique gifts a la carte. Bespoke Post sends out holiday catalogs. Try contacting Bespoke Post at [email protected] to request to be added to their snail mailing list.
- Bluffworks makes travel clothing for men and women made from technical fabrics, and sends mail order catalogs.
- Boden – British retailer Boden is a great alternative to J. Crew. They are great about sending frequent snail mail catalogs. Request a Boden mail order catalog online.
- Bonobos has grown into one of my favorite all-around destinations for menswear. (They also produced a women’s capsule in 2019.) The digital-first brand, now owned by Walmart, has undertaken a range of efforts to get in front of customers including by opening guideshops across the United States. (Take a look inside one of Bonobos’ Guideshops in Washington, DC.) Fill out a form online to request a Bonobos mail order catalog.
- Boston Proper is a boutique that offers “sophisticatedly sexy” and unique clothing for women. Request a mail order catalog from Boston Proper.
- Carbon2Cobalt – I have been receiving Carbon2Cobalt’s catalogs for years now. Though I’ve never bought anything from them, this year may be the year. I love the look of their casual henleys, flannel button down shirts, leather bags and loungewear. The company also sells clothing and accessories for women including casual jewelry, shaker-knit sweaters, leather jackets, sherpa fleece beanies, lounge-wear, coconut oil soap blocks and more. Register for Carbon2Cobalt’s mail order catalog via their website form.
- Charles Tyrwhitt, the entrepreneurial Jermyn Street retailer, regularly produces mail order catalogs that emphasize the company’s fashionable British takes on dress shirts, suits, ties and more for men. Their catalog, along with a series of Brick-and-Mortar stores around the world are part of their bricks-and-clicks strategy. (Take a look inside Charles Tyrwhitt’s store at Farragut Square in Washington, DC.) Request a mail order catalog online via a form on the Charles Tyrwhitt website.
- Cyrillus is a unique Parisian brand that advertises “timeless chic spiced with modernity” for women, men and children. They’re worth checking out. While at Cyrillus’ website, request a mail order catalog.
- Design Within Reach sources modern furniture meant to last a lifetime. Request a Design Within Reach mail order catalogue online.
- Free People sells Boho and vintage-inspired fashion for women. Free People is a subsidiary of Urban Outfitters, which launched the separate brand in 2002. Customers can request to be added to Free People’s mailing list to receive snail-mail catalogs.
- Garnet Hill – We regularly receive snail-mail catalogs from Garnet Hill, which offers fantastic, fashionable gift ideas for women, kids and the home. Request a Garnet Hill mail order catalog online.
- Hill City makes technical or performance wear for everyday. San Francisco-based Gap launched the brand and tapped former MLS goalie Noah Palmer to develop an identity, which is registered as a certified B Corp. (That means the company balances “profit and purpose” and meets certain environmental and social standards. Hill City sells good looking shirt jackets, t-shirts and everyday chinos that incorporate technologies like XT2 advanced-odor protection. (Note that Gap discontinued the Hill City Brand as of January 2021.)
- J. McLaughlin, the New York-based clothing retailer which has specialized in classic American styles for women and men since 1977, regularly sends mail order catalogs. Request a J. McLaughlin catalog online.
- J. Crew – Growing up, I fondly recall leafing through J. Crew catalogs full of roll neck sweaters, denim, swimwear and more. J. Crew still sends out mail order catalogs. Request your J. Crew mail order catalog online.
- Johnnie-O, which specializes in west-coast-casual-meets-east-coast-prep clothing for men, regularly sends catalogs. Request a Johnnie-O catalog via this online form.
- L. L. Bean is a favorite of mine for cozy flannel shirts, pajamas, and blankets as well as outdoor gear for the snow and hiking. It’s also a great option for Light Academia-inspired fashion. (It’s a thing.) Create an account online and choose which LL Bean print catalogues you want.
- Lands End is another time-honored option for cozy basics and rugged outdoor gear. You can request a Lands End print catalog online.
- Lunya – Ashley Merrill founded Lunya in October 2012 with a focus on modern luxury sleepwear for women. Lunya has expanded to sell sleep sets and kits, robes, intimate apparel, sleep masks, dresses, cardigans and bottoms to make the most of your off-hours. Lunya sends out direct mail catalogs but there is no form on their website to apply to receive one. Try contacting Lunya customer service to request a mail order catalog.
- Marine Layer, founded by Mike Natenshon and Adam Lynch, set out more than a decade ago to make the perfect t-shirt. I love looking through their mail-order catalog, which projects a laid-back vibe for everything from athleisure apparel for men and women to jackets, stripy sweaters and t-shirts for men to dresses and skirts and pajamas for women.
- Monroe and Main, a destination for everyday stylish clothing for women, sends out snail-mail catalogs. Request a Monroe and Main catalog via this form.
- Nordstrom is one of my favorite retailers and a great example of a brick-and-mortar company that has fully embraced technology and provides amazing customer service. Nordstrom regularly produces high quality catalogs, which are available to view online. To receive catalogs via snail-mail, try contacting Nordstrom.
- Parachute – Ariel Kaye founded Parachute “to bring more comfort to your world through premium, accessible essentials” for the home, including bedding, bed inserts, bath, décor and living. Try contacting Parachute to request a mail order catalog at [email protected]
- Prana sells “clothing for positive change” for women and men. My wife and I have several articles of Prana’s sustainably-produced clothing, which spans athleisure, casual and business casual. (Prana is a terrific alternative to Lululemon for athleisure and workleisure clothing.) You can request a mail order catalog from Prana online.
- Pure Collection is a British-based company founded in 2002 by Adam Holdsworth and Nick Falkingham whose goal is to sell “the world’s finest cashmere, sensibly priced and expertly crafted into beautiful, modern styles to make you feel special and look terrific.” I love the variety of styles (think zip necks, cable knits and sweatshirts) and fun colors (hunter green and pillarbox red) for men and women. Pure Collection is one of Modern Fellows’ selections for where to buy cashmere sweaters online. Request a mail order catalogue via the Pure Collection website.
- Revtown makes outstanding jeans for women and men. They publish snail mail lookbooks.
- Room and Board is an outstanding destination for simple, modern and expensive American-made furniture and décor. (While we can’t afford the statement pieces, we have found success with lighting and accessories.) Request a Room and Board catalog online.
- Serena and Lily – Serena Dugan and Lily Kanter founded Serena and Lily to bring California style and precise design for the home. I love my duvet cover from the brand, which is simple and soft and exactly what I was looking for. Request a mail order catalog from Serena and Lily online.
- Stio – Jackson Hole, Wyoming-based Stio was founded to deliver “beautiful, functional products infused with mountain soul” and sells a range of high-end outdoor clothing and gear. Request Stio’s mail order catalog via this form.
- The Territory Ahead – Founded in 1988, Territory Ahead is part of DAI Holding LLC, which also owns brands like metrostyle and Chasing Fireflies. The company sells what it describes as “Exceptional Clothing for Life’s Adventures” for men. I’ve found Territory Ahead to be a solid option for shawl collar and cardigan sweaters for men. You can request a mail order catalog from Territory Ahead online.
- 32 Bar Blues produces “noteworthy” clothing, footwear, accessories and gifts for men. Founded by Bruce Willard, who started up other brands including Territory Ahead (which sells great sweaters). Their clothes are mostly made in their own factories — not outsourced to third-party factories, and they produce a nice mail order catalog that showcases their casual clothing options such as plaid button-down shirts, worn-in leather bags and belts, and suede, made-in-Portugal Chukka boots. Try requesting a catalog via 32 Bar Blues’ customer service email at [email protected].
- Title Nine clothing is a women-owned company, which entrepreneur Missy Park founded out of her garage in 1989. Named after the breakthrough 1972 federal legislation that “protects people from discrimination based on sex in education programs or activities that receive Federal financial assistance,” Title Nine the clothing company sells performance dresses, bras, tops, bottoms and other essentials for workouts and athleisure. Request a Title Nine mail order catalog online.
- Untuckit, like Bonobos, has transformed from a digital first brand into an omnichannel, bricks-and-clicks retailer, opening a range of stores inside malls across America, including several shops in the greater Washington, DC area. Untuckit has also expanded their line to include a range of offerings for men, women and boys. Untuckit offers dress blouses, casual shirts and tee-shirt dresses for women to complement their traditional focus on men’s shirts that look good untucked. Try contacting Untuckit to request a mail order catalog.
- Uncommon Goods is an amazing repository of thoughtful and unique gifts for her and him and kids. Request an Uncommon Goods catalog online.
- Vineyard Vines focuses on colorful, preppy clothing for men and women, and is an interesting alternative to Brooks Brothers (though the company tends to plaster its whale logo on much of its clothing). Request a Vineyard Vines mail order catalog online.
- Wayfair, the Boston-based furniture and home goods retailer founded by Niraj Shah, offers a great snail-mail catalog. Request a Wayfair mail-order catalog via a form on their website.
Who else should be on this list? Let me know in the comments section, send an email or, if you’re a brand, feel free to send me a catalog at Modern Fellows, 4005 Wisconsin Ave NW, #39025, Washington, DC 20016.
About JakeJake 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/or 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.
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