Let’s face it; shopping can be as pleasurable as a visit to the urologist. It’s inherent that the act should cause men problems when you consider that the word retail comes from the French retaillier, “to cut off, pare.” The anti-shopper could equate this to the paring down of masculinity. But, that man will soon go the way of the troglodyte. Put simply, the Internet has upped her game, with a slew of online shops that combine vintage influence with modern accessibility and great return policies – eBay be damned!
The web is establishing a new breed of man, one who can enter a female-dominated arena and retain his virility. Matt Fox, proprietor of the Fine and Dandy Shop, chalks up our struggle to characteristics engrained in gender roles “I think (a dislike for retail) is a result of this idea over the past several decades that guys shouldn’t care about their appearance, as if it isn’t manly to put any thought into the way a guy dresses. That has started to change in the last few years, particularly among young guys.”
Those young guys also have the pick of a variable deluge of websites; from heritage clothiers like J. Press to online only brands like Fine and Dandy. The Fine and Dandy shop is the perfect spot to pick up items that you are less likely to come across in person, such as tie bars, lapel pins and double-blade ties, while with J. Press you have access to a company that doesn’t have any physical representation in Canada – plus a wealth of quality clothing that only a company with a century plus behind it can boast.
Gilt Man, another web-only company, has the right idea – a high-end haberdasher on perpetual sale, offering a mix of familiar brands with those you’re soon to be smitten with. Another high-end option comes in the form of Mr. Porter, whose launch several months ago was on the back of it’s highly successful sister site Net-A-Porter (proving once and for all that a woman’s place is in the kitchen…shopping on her laptop). Mr. Porter really stands out as it features so many outfitters who aren’t casually available in Canada, like J. Crew, Alfred Dunhill and Charvet.
Dressing well is about self-expression. You can even stray as far as to have shirts made-to-measure on the cheap – Biased Cut is perfect for this, compromising nothing for a nice crisp look which includes mother of pearl buttons, four piece collars and twenty stitches-per-inch (well above the average sixteen or so found on most shirts).
To fully make use of the onslaught of online shops, you have to have a good sense of self (nothing metaphysical here). The discerning man should know his measurements and shouldn’t kid himself about a change in shape – no more straining your neck muscles to fit into that size fifteen shirt.
The quality of clothing presented to us is changing, but our malls and high-streets are still chock-full of poorly produced goods that we are told to want through mass-marketing, while the quality and selection online is far superior. Men of all ages now have the chance to embrace their inner sartorialist, spurred on by the torrent of online companies out there whose mantras have more to do with quality material than marketing. Get ready to add shopping malls to the growing list of Internet casualities, along with the music biz and, gasp, publishing.