I admire people that put their money where their mouth is. Becoming an entrepreneur, setting up on one’s own, trying to make money selling your taste to the world. It’s ballsy. Writing a blog doesn’t risk anything, other than exposing your ignorance and prejudices.
Which is one reason I admire Will Boehlke’s decision to launch the A Suitable Wardrobe store. Long the author of probably the best blog on men’s style in the world, Will went one step beyond cloth clubs and exclusive offers this year, to start stocking the European brands he loved and making them available to gentlemen of America.
The other reason I admire Will is he may be the first of many online sartorial stores. The costs of running such an operation are dropping all the time, especially as software providers begin to target small businesses.
The blogger or similar aficionado is well placed to start such a business. He knows his audience well. It is a specialist audience, often searching for rarity, superior quality and limited production. It is sometimes willing to pre-order, which substantially cuts commercial risk, and wait for its purchase. What retailer would not want such a patient, knowledgeable clientele?
I don’t share Will’s taste in several respects. I don’t wear caps, bowties or sleeveless cardigans. But there’s still more than enough stock on the ASW store to keep me interested. And I recently took delivery of my first order – it’s not that much harder to source Irish, French and Italian goods in the UK as it is in the US, unless you are prepared to get on a plane. I bought the shawl-collar Aran pullover, a linen handkerchief and some shoecare products. None are available in the UK as far as I am aware.
The Simonnot-Godard linen is lovely – as fine as any I have seen and more generously sized. The hand-loomed Aran fits surprisingly well through the waist (most knitwear is cut too generously for me); the texture was slightly different to my expectations, but those expectations were based on nothing I can justify. And I can’t really rate the Saphir shoe products yet – time will tell if they nourish and protect my footwear better than any other brand. But I’m grateful for the chance to try them.
Good luck Will.