As one of the worst-dressed cities in the country, (thanks, GQ!), Bonobos is here to save Boston. The New York based company, which boasts the largest men’s Internet-launched clothing brand in the U.S., is opening its first offline, brick and mortar shop today on Newbury Street. Modeled after a similar pilot Guideshop based out of the Bonobos headquarters in New York, the Guideshop in Boston aims to take the website’s bright, energetic, personalized experience offline, helping men find the right fit of chinos and best color button-downs to match them with.
Because anything bright and energetic is right up my alley, I went to check out the store last weekend. The discreet storefront is easy to pass, which makes you feel even cooler when you finally discover the door and climb the flight of stairs to the store. After you walk in, the colors of the store hit you like a rainbow that simultaneously exploded and puked up Skittles.
After putting on sunglasses due to the blinding colors, my eyes were immediately drawn to a wall decorated with canvas Instagram images of men in awesome locations, from mountains to the Taj Mahal, wearing Bonobos clothing. Gina DiPietro, a Bonobos’ public relations expert, explained that all the photos were user-generated content, gathered as part of the #BonobosNation social media campaign.
As much as I love shopping , size 32 men’s chinos just don’t look good on me, so for the full Bonobos Guideshop experience, I brought along my colleague Dave to help test the ropes. The actual floor space is small, but of course, that’s part of the Guideshop experience. Since you don’t walk out of the store with your purchase in hand, they have no need to carry a hundred size 34 pants – one pair will suffice. All of the items you purchase in-store are ordered online through your Bonobos account and then shipped to you, eliminating the overhead costs of having a fully-stocked store, and, in turn, keeping prices low for you.
For every appointment you set up, the store offers a complimentary Bonobos Guide, an expert trained to help men find their correct size, match colors and help work the Bonobos threads into their current style, and Dave got the full treatment.
“There is a level of guidance that I, for one, have not found in my typical experience of shopping for clothes,” he explains. “When you shop for suits and tuxedos, you get help from the folks at the store, which you don’t get at places that sell more casual wear — think Gap, Old Navy, stuff like that. And why not offer that same guidance for everyday style? You don’t think you need it, but then when it’s offered, you realize what a bonus it actually is. I can put together an outfit, but I’m no fashionista.”
And that’s the whole point of the Bonobos Guideshop. Shopping online may be easy, but it’s not always easy to figure out what a “cotton-polyester blend” feels like when you’re actually wearing it. As we sipped beers while Dave tried on jeans, DiPietro explained to me that through the Bonobos pilot Guideshop at the New York headquarters, they discovered the clientele ranges from the dude whose girlfriend was fed up with his ripped jeans to the young professional looking for a fresh suit to the older, in-the-know dad.
For Dave, a recent college grad, colors are just starting to play a role in his fashion. “I’ve more or less established myself as a blue jeans and t-shirt type of dude. I wouldn’t feel like myself if I started rocking bright yellow chinos. It just isn’t my style,” he says. “However, I’ll get frisky with shirts, and Bonobos definitely has me covered there. One day I’ll slip into some of the colorful chinos, but I’ve got to ease into it like stepping into a cold pool.”
Lucky for you, Dave, they have swim trunks, too.
Gentlemen of Boston, Bonobos is here to answer all your fashion needs, and after seeing Dave in his new outfit courtsey of the wonderful Bonobos team, they aren’t messing around. “Bonobos is inspired by the promiscuity of their namesake gorilla and that is definitely evident in their clothing,” says Dave. “It’s playful. It’s fun. And fashion shouldn’t be such a dead serious catwalk all the time. It’s just clothes. Have fun. Look good. I think they understand that.”
The store, which opens today, is located at 85 Newbury Street, Suite 2A and is open for appointments Monday through Wednesday and Saturday from 10am to 7pm; Thursday and Friday from 10am to 8pm. Bonobos wants to offer a special discount to BostInno readers who book a Guide appointment at www.bonobos.com/guides. If you book by appointment by May 15, 2012, you are eligible to receive 20 percent off on their entire first purchase at the store by simply referencing “BostInno“ when scheduling. Now you have no excuse not to look as fresh as Dave, Boston!