BirchBox Grooming 1 Man up Your Face With Birchbox Grooming Goods

Birchbox is an innovative and creative brand that has helped to create the curated product discovery market.  Founded in 2010, Birchbox helps consumers discover beauty, grooming, and lifestyle products through monthly deliveries of curated, deluxe samples that are tailored to their personal profile.

Updated Birchbox Man up Your Face With Birchbox Grooming GoodsAn important trend in the evolution of retail for both brands and consumers lies in the discovery experience.  Birchbox brings the excitement of product discovery online and its innovative approach allows brands and consumers to connect in a unique and intimate way.

Each new box includes a mix of products across categories – haircare to skincare and body, plus lifestyle extras.  Their distinct product offerings cater to both men and women via dedicated website sections and individual marketing outreach.  Special seasonal and holiday boxes also provide unique opportunities to sample new items and introduce new brands and products.

Recently, Birchbox Man sent us some new grooming samples from Gentleman’s Brand Co., Mr. Natty, and Sachajuan.  From hair gel to Bay Rum aftershave to daily moisturizer, our Birchbox samples are all outstanding and unique.

In the Birchbox e-shop, they sell full-sized versions of every product they sample, as well as other editor-selected products. With a highly personalized and targeted profile, Birchbox allows consumers to try the best and latest products in their home, including hard-to-find international or niche brands, and then provides a seamless way to purchase the full size versions of the products they love.  Pretty smart.

The Birchbox site also features robust editorial content designed to educated and inspire consumers; from how-to videos to expert interviews, and beauty news roundups.

In just 3 years, the company has experienced rapid organic growth and now boasts more than 400,000 current, active subscribers each month. In April 2012 Birchbox Man was launched for customers in the United States, and in November 2012, Home items were added to the Birchbox Shop. The acquisition of JolieBox in September 2012 expanded Birchbox to the UK, France, and Spain.

BirchboxLogoNew Man up Your Face With Birchbox Grooming Goods

 

 

 

 

 

Birchbox Find: Hanz de Fuko

Hanzdefuko Quicksand 900x900 Birchbox Find: Hanz de FukoEven classically stylish guys need to focus on grooming.  While we here at OTC central don’t have a major personal care regimen, per se, we do need good stuff for our hair.  And thanks to our friends at Birch Box, we now have a new favorite hair styling brand, Hanz de Fuko, which is currently being sold exclusively through Birchbox.com.

We checked out their Pomade, Spongewax, and Quicksand products and found all three to be outstanding, each in their own way.  The great thing about these products is that they can help style your hair whether wet or dry and do so with a natural look.  It’s this quick and effective styling that has received some pretty glowing coverage from the likes of Esquire, QG, and Details.  So, whether you are going for something highly styled, a la David Beckham (a regular user), or you pull the I-don’t-do-the-style-thing-I-just-have-cool-hair, bit, this brand has you covered.

Here is a little bit about the three products we tried out through Birch Box.  Our everyday go-to choice is Quicksand.  It’s particularly light, holds well, and looks perfectly natural.

Hanz de Fuko Modify Pomade

A lightweight, modern pomade that’s great for a slicked back but never greasy look.  This medium-hold formula is water soluble which means less grease with a softer feel, still giving your hair smoothness and definition.

Hanz de Fuko Spongewax

This is a firm-hold hair styler for everything from perfect “bedhead” to a put-together pompadour.  This lightweight, water soluble wax, made with organic ingredients and natural plant extracts, thickens and adds fullness while still allowing you to sculpt your hair.

Hanz de Fuko Quicksand

An oil-absorbing styler to get that back-from-the-beach look. This medium-hold hair product is one part styling wax, one part dry shampoo. This gritty formula contains a soft granular rock similar to pumice that sucks up excess oil and adds lots of texture.

 

OTC Review: Tommy John Underwear

Tommy John Retail Boxes OTC Review: Tommy John UnderwearUnderwear brand Tommy John likes to frame their product’s value proposition thusly; wearing their underwear with make you feel better about yourself.  After a few weeks of testing, we more or less agree.

Men today have more options when it comes to finding great, well-designed underwear than any other time time history.  While it’s not the same as curing cancer, designing undergarments that that help the wearer feel comfortable, relaxed, and unrestricted yet put together, is no mean feat.  To us, the Tommy John brand is notable for the consistent comfort; no stretching or sagging, even after repeated wearing and washing.  In addition, the brand has developed a truly creative and eminently functional advancement in the fly department – something all men will appreciate.  Frankly, that accomplishment alone deserves some sort of award.

OTC highly recommends both of the items we tested, the Second Skin Trunk underwear and Cool Cotton Deep V-Neck undershirt.  The underwear is incredibly light and breathable, providing excellent comfort and minimal bulk throughout the day.  The undershirt has an almost body sculpting  quality to it that tapers down to the waist.  This design element means that it truly stays put and doesn’t ride up, a universally persistent issue with most undershirt-wearers. No tucking or scrunching needed.

The one note of caution we would add is that this significant tapering also means the undershirt itself can potentially feel a bit constricting, almost like shape wear.  The outward effect is slimming and helps your dress shirt look less bulky.  However, depending on the wearer, it may not always feel comfortable.  As the fit is close by design, it might be better to size up if this is a concern.

As with many of these advanced, research-based underwear brands, Tommy John’s products are not inexpensive and choosing to invest in a $30 pair of underwear may be a bit daunting – or irritating – to some.  We don’t really weigh in on the pricing issue for one key reason.  These products are not “also” items picked up on the grocery store run.  They are not to be tossed into the cart as an afterthought; a six-pack for ten bucks.  The quality, construction, design, and comfort brought to the wearer makes this underwear akin to a great shirt or solid pair of trousers you plan on wearing all the time.  So, view purchasing this sort of high-end underwear for what it is, investing in your wardrobe; frankly, an important and often overlooked part of your wardrobe.

Tommy John before after OTC Review: Tommy John Underwear

Tommy John problem solution OTC Review: Tommy John Underwear

 

Wardrobe Upgrade: Ribbed Tee

Ribbed Tee V Neck Wardrobe Upgrade: Ribbed Tee

Over the past several months, we have had the chance to review a variety of products that are redefining a wardrobe staple that seems to have gone unchanged in any meaningful way for decades; the undershirt.  For many men, especially those who dress up for work, an undershirt is a necessity but also a burden.

Too often, they are spun from heavy cotton, sized like small boxy tents, and bunch up under all but the fullest cut shirts.  One reason we are excited about this new crop of brands that are re-thinking the lowly undershirt, is that the changes they bring are making a real difference in the market.  These “next generation” base layers are more comfortable and fit much better that what’s on the store shelf, and they actually match the way we live and dress today.

Ribbed Tee is a great example of this updated thinking.  Made in the USA, their undershirts and tees combine excellent quality, soft but supportive materials and a solid design that fits comfortably.  The 50/50 combed cotton and polyester blend Retro Fit v-neck undershirts we tested are incredibly lightweight, so much so that we could barely feel them.  The wide neck opening remains well-hidden when wearing an open neck shirt.

The shirts themselves are cut long and pose little risk of ever coming untucked. They also have a high cut sleeves that stay out of the way when worn under a polo or other short sleeved shirt.  The loose jersey knit MicroModal fabric means that the shirt hugs your body without any binding or constraint.  It’s a great fit under a slim dress shirt but still feels incredibly comfortable.

We also tried out their classic fit crew neck in heather grey, which was equally comfortable and possessed many of the same material features as the the undershirts: streamlined fit, trim design, featherweight fabric, and a long stay-in-place cut.  The mico-ribbing pattern is reminiscent of a classic thermal tee, and provides some visual texture when worn by itself.  It’s also an excellent layering piece, especially due to its ability to provide real style without any bulk whatsoever.  However, if you plan to wear it as a stand-alone tee, some fair warning – you better be in shape.

Ribbed Tee Retro Fit Via Por Homme Wardrobe Upgrade: Ribbed Tee

 

 

 

(Re)introducing Mack Weldon

MackWeldon via Buffalo Dandy (Re)introducing Mack Weldon

We introduced OTC readers to the Mack Weldon brand as part of our 2012 Holiday Wish List.  Apparently, some folks wanted to know a bit more, judging by the feedback in our inbox.

As a topic, OTC has never really addressed things like underwear and tee shirts, but these items really are important. Feeling comfortable in the clothes closest to your body makes difference in how you feel; so coming across a brand that gets it right is a pretty big deal for us.

To recap, Mack Weldon is a new men’s collection that features tee shirts, undershirts, underwear, and socks – the fundamental pieces needed to create the base for any outfit.  For now, the line is sold only through the brand’s dedicated website (www.mackweldon.com).  In addition to buying individual items, you can also choose from some clever gift packages.

Mack Weldon’s marketing material says, “this is an undergarment brand that is solely devoted to producing top-notch products that perfectly combines luxury and performance features to create a one-of-a-kind item.”  Normally we eschew such hyperbole, but after testing the tees, undershirts, and underwear for about two months, we do agree that there’s nothing like it on the market.  Our samples included all but the socks, so we can’t speak to them directly.

MackWeldon3 via PorHomme 300x199 (Re)introducing Mack WeldonThe Mack Weldon menswear brand was launched in August 2012, with an eye on innovating men’s basics, improving both the product and customer experience.  The fact that they actually accomplished these rather lofty goals is one reason we took the time to revisit the brand in more detail.

Founders Brian Berger and Michael Isaacman realized that to make a dent in the relatively unexciting men’s undergarment market, the brand interaction needed to be as engaging and innovative as the products being sold.  These guys are not amateurs; with stints ranging from Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger to Excite, and WebMD, their combined menswear and internet savvy led to a successful social media- and customer-focused brand experience.

To counter the reputation of underwear as a relative commodity, they take a rapid-response approach to turning around orders and provide high-touch customer service.  Another key market objective is competing directly with the low barrier-to-purchase alternative of brick-and-mortar retail.  The back-end of the operation is pretty impressive too.  Check out the robots manning their automated warehouse.

As we stated the first time around, the tees and undershirts are simply better than any other we have tried; plain and simple.  The fit, design, construction, and materials combine to make these the tops we reach for first.  The underwear is just as innovative and well made, with extras soft waistbands, strategically placed cooling mesh, and the boxer brief styles have great stay-put legs.

 

M01T07 CB 1 detail (Re)introducing Mack Weldon

MackWeldon2 via Svpply (Re)introducing Mack Weldon