In 2018, a camel-colored, windproof long coat popped up in writer Alexis Madrigal’s Instagram feed. It was exactly what he wanted and at under $100, he couldn’t pass up such a great deal. But as Madrigal explains in his subsequent article for The Atlantic, the material of the coat had “the softness of a Las Vegas carpet and the rich sheen of a velour jumpsuit.” He goes on to explain that the fabric was “so synthetic, it could probably be refined into bunker fuel for a ship.”
All of which is to say, Madrigal — like so many before him and so many more after him — had fallen for the most basic Instagram trick in the book: He assumed that the coat would look (and feel) like the coat he saw on Instagram.
Nonetheless, some “Instagram brands” — i.e., clothing companies that appear in no other stores than on the Instagram marketplace — can be decent. It’s finding them amidst the minefield of deception that’s a crapshoot. “A lot of what you find when trying to learn more [about these companies] is actually advertising disguised as ‘customer reviews,’” writes one subscriber to the Male Fashion Advice (MFA) subreddit. Thus, in the same MFA post, he asks, “What companies or pieces did you learn about through a trendy social media ad that ended up being a purchase you’re glad you made?”
Four brands in particular popped up multiple times in the comments…
“For me, it’s always about quality and fit,” another MFA denizen tells me. “And for the prices at which Boggi Milano offers their products, they’re on par with the more luxurious/expensive Italian brands — e.g., MooRER, Tagliatore, Boglioli Milano and Zegna.” For the most part, Boggi Milano boasts a contemporary spin on classic menswear staples, a la Banana Republic but less stale. Their stuff is ideal for the guy who shops Everlane but is interested in some slightly more formal wear. Their garments are manufactured in Italy, and their flagship stores offer tailoring services to ensure a perfect fit.
On r/MaleFashionAdvice, whenever someone suggests that there’s no such thing as a quality dropshipping company, someone else will chime in to suggest that the Bronson Mfg. Co. is actually pretty great. Their prices are on par with mall brands like Old Navy and H&M, but their fabric is of a much higher quality. “The shirts I have are a lot more substantial, in a good way, not a Hane Beefy T way,” writes one redditor.
I own a few Bronson T-shirts myself, and I can attest that their quality for the price (around $23) is unmatched. They’ve got good customer service, too. If slouchy tailoring and loose-fitting pants, pea coats and military-issue bomber jackets are also your thing, Bronson might quickly become your favorite online store.
The general consensus among r/MaleFashionAdvice is that for the price, Axel Arigato’s sneakers are as good, if not better, than $400 designer shoes. “I’ve recently bought the Axel Arigato Clean 90s, which I’ve seen mentioned a few times on the sub but have never seen anyone write much of a review,” offers one MFA subscriber. “They’re very nice quality leather sneakers, and I think the all-white colorway looks very nice and gives the same aesthetic as Common Projects at a much more affordable price point. They also come with a pair of Axel Arigato chopsticks if you’re into that.”
The only issue you might run into with Axel Arigato’s footwear is that the leather is a bit stiff at first. As another MFA subscriber explains, this means it may take a few days to properly break them in.
Per Ministry of Supply’s website, their “mission is to create a new category of apparel (Workleisure) to unlock your full potential — all achieved through science.” To that end, an MFA subscriber tells me that their button-down shirts, which boast the softness and stretch of a T-shirt but with the structure of something more formal, are their best offering. “It’s just so soft and so comfortable,” he says. “I wear them with a suit, and it genuinely feels like I’m wearing a T-shirt.”
In terms of what workleisure means, it’s basically work-like enough to look presentable on Zoom calls, but leisurely enough to lull you into time-wasting activities like buying clothes on Instagram.