The upcoming sale season makes it too easy to start focusing on buying for yourself and forget about the impending holidays; I’m here to remind you that it’s time to put that shoe purchase on the backburner and start planning out what you’re getting your loved ones. This list is for the men that deserve your gratitude this year – maybe it’s a brother, a father, a friend, a husband, or someone else entirely. No matter what relation, here’s your unequivocal menswear gift guide for this holiday season. Whether you’re shopping for a jet-setting cosmopolitan, rugged outdoorsman, or an internet-savvy iGent, you’ll find something for them on this list.
For the jetsetter: MUJI is a Japanese company that focuses on simple, well-made basics – sort of like if Uniqlo and IKEA had an inexpensive, unassembled child. MUJI’s 33L hard case is quite possibly the perfect carryon for under $200, plain and simple. It’s made of lightweight polycarbonate, has four locking wheels, a clever TSA-approved lock, and a sleek, simple design. My ancient roller bag is on its last legs, so I’m eyeing one of these in navy (of course). It’s not that easy to get MUJI online, but they have several brick and mortars in California (including San Francisco) and New York.
For the fitness buff: my friends at Taylor Stitch recently launched Myles Apparel, which is a clothing line for activewear. Their flagship products are their everyday shorts, which are designed with a more flattering cut than most gym shorts (which seem to look universally terrible – at least on me). It looks like a solid product and I’m looking forward to seeing what else they come up with in the future.
For the foodie: I love to cook, and I owe much of that love to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt – I cannot recommend his new book “The Food Lab” highly enough. As an engineer, I enjoy learning things that are backed up by data and tests, and that’s how Kenji approaches food. Old misconceptions are debunked, experiments are performed, and a lot of wonderful recipes are made in the process. This is a great book for people that want to understand the mechanics of food science, not just follow a recipe. At this price it’s an absolute steal – I already have two copies, just in case.
For the young urban professional: If you are close to someone that is just entering the workforce (bye bye, youthful innocence), consider a briefcase to carry them through the daily grind. On the luxe side you have Frank Clegg bags, which are basically perfection. Other options for leather bags are Linjer, Hrothgar Stibbon, and Custom Hide, to name a few favorites. For canvas, I love Ernest Alexander (see here), but also check out other brands like Chapman and Filson.
For the college kid: Knit caps are great, but cashmere knit caps are really great. My two favorites come from Berg & Berg* and Proper Cloth, but you can find them here and there at places like J. Crew and Brooks Brothers as well. I have one in grey, but they look good in just about every color (even some bold ones, if you want to get in touch with your inner Marvin Gaye).
For the writer: Have you ever written with a nice fountain pen? You should try it. Much like mechanical watches, straight razor shaving, and many things discussed on this site, using a fountain pen is a treat because you get to appreciate the mechanics at work and participate in an art form that is lost on most people. I highly recommend the Pilot Metropolitan* as an entry-level model, but if you’re looking for something with a bit more gravitas, consider a model like the Pelikan M200 or LAMY 2000.* Once you get the hang of it, pens like these make writing fun again.
For the grooming guru: The Feather AS-D2* is the top of the line when it comes to double edge razors, as far as I’m concerned. Exceptional balance, amazing craftsmanship, and a nice moderate shave. For the true enthusiast, check out the one with the razor stand. It seems foolishly expensive for a chunk of metal, but when you feel the satisfying *click* of the two pieces of steel fitting together perfectly, you’ll get it.
For the VERY good boy: Is your menswear enthusiast on the “nice” list? Like, really on the nice list? If you’re looking to give someone an heirloom to pass on for generations, nothing does it quite as well as a nice watch. If you’re considering buying something new, my favorite brand at the moment is Nomos. Their exceptional design aesthetic, in-house movements, and quirky minimalism make them a serious “bargain” in the world of luxe watches. My personal favorite is the Tangente Gangreserve 35mm, but there are many beautiful models to look at. Looking for a less expensive option? Stowa’s Kleine Sekunde (for the small second complication) gets you 90% of the way there at about half the price – it even has the Peseux movement (7001) that the Nomos Alpha is based on. Need something actually affordable? The Rodina is what it looks like – a knockoff – but a very well executed one, and has admittedly good stats for the price.
For the outdoorsman: I love patterned wool camp blankets, and nobody does them better than my fellow Oregonians at Pendleton. I absolutely love the classic Native American-inspired ones – they’re beautiful, functional, and bring a bit of the outdoor spirit inside (to my eye, at least). Although I do have a West Coast bias, I will admit that Woolrich* has some great ones as well.
For the Pitti Uomo Attendee: If your guy is concerned with looking his best no matter what temperature it is outside, check out these gloves by Dent’s at No Man Walks Alone. If you think that cashmere-lined gloves are the peak of luxury, think again – these rabbit fur gloves are quite literally the most exceptional feeling things I have ever had the pleasure of touching, and the classic design makes them an easy addition to a tailored wardrobe. I would be all over these if I had any reason at all to wear gloves at all.
*Some of the things on this list, mostly by coincidence, are available on Massdrop (where I work) now or will be soon. This isn’t why I included them – I included them because I think they’re awesome – but you’re welcome to check them out there as well.