The internet hasn’t killed off the mail-order catalog. These 15 direct-to-consumer brands will send you a snail-mail catalog, banking on physical 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.
There are 2 reasons why catalogs are making a comeback:
Reason 1: 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.
Reason 2: 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 anymore.
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 couple of pages and seed a couple of gift ideas for my family.
These retailers send out mail order catalogs
The fashion, clothing and lifestyle brands below all send out catalogs. 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 is discontinuing the Hill City Brand as of January 2021.)
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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].
- 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.
- 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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