Style

How to Find New Brands? An SG Reader Question

Brad asks:

Quick question. Your recent post on dressing for college touched obliquely on a subject that’s been a trouble spot for me since college. I’m in my 30’s now, have the professional dress thing mostly down, the smart casual mostly down.

My problem is casual, and specifically, t-shirts. I can’t find cool ones. As you mentioned, the A&F/Aeropostale/gaudy logo etc is a no go at any age, certainly mine, and I wear my alma mater t-shirts a healthy amount, but I try not to overdo that. Everywhere I look I see my peers with cool t-shirts with cool graphics and I have no idea where they’re getting them. I end up just resorting to polos and button ups with rolled up sleeves which are easier to find. This seems so basic that I can’t imagine if other guys have a similar issue making it a worthwhile topic, but I love your site so I thought I’d write in. Thanks!

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What a great question! I definitely understand the “FOMO” (fear of missing out) when it comes to clothes. It’s not fun to feel like everyone but you has the inside track on the hip, new brands.

You’re halfway there by recognizing that the logos you know are probably not the ones you want on your shirt – Old Navy, Aeropostale, American Eagle Outfitters, etc etc. There are so many times I’ll see a sweet t-shirt or tank top at Abercrombie (yes, I still shop there) and think, “I’d buy that…if not for the huge moose or ‘A&F’ stamped on the front.”

Below, a few tips on how to find new brands to try:

Ask around

If you see someone wearing a t-shirt you like, why not ask him where he got it? This is an approach I take literally ALL the time with ladies. Just yesterday, I asked the salesperson helping me buy a battery pack at Best Buy where she got her earrings. Maybe it’s not quite so easy to get all “hey girl heyyyyy” with another bro about clothes, but I mean, a guy’s not going to NOT tell you where he got the shirt he’s wearing. Here’s a line to to try to get you started:

“Hey man, cool shirt, do you mind me asking where you got it?”

If you’re totally uncomfortable with this idea, why not enlist a girlfriend / sister / willing female wingman to help? Just expect some teasing for being too chicken to do it yourself.

Go somewhere new

Another approach is to start shopping at stores you haven’t frequented before. Albert Einstein said the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. If you keep walking into stores like Old Navy and Aeropostale, you’re going to keep finding shirts with the brands’ logo plastered all over it. Walk into a store in your mall you’ve never been to. If your city or town has a college, stop in a boutique near campus.

Try Etsy

Do you know Etsy? Your girlfriend does. It’s a website where people can buy and sell handmade items – everything from cookies to monogrammed flasks to…well, pretty much whatever you can think of – someone’s made it and is selling it this very second on Etsy. To wit: I searched “men’s t-shirt” and this rad tee of Chewbacca riding a velociraptor came up.

Concerts

No, I’m not talking about the N’Sync “No Strings Attached” tour that I wanted so desperately but didn’t get in…ha, I was about to type middle school, but it was definitely high school (nerd alert!). Thankfully, concert t-shirts have gotten much cooler in recent years. I’ve found that bands that are more “indie” are impressively savvy about artwork – with album and concert tees you’d be proud to hang on your wall or wear on your back. I’ve seen cool t-shirts from Black Keys and Wild Nothing; there’s definitely more out there.

Ask a blogger

Which is what you did! So I suppose I better give you a few suggestions – none better than the ones featured here! They’re from stores and brands I’m digging right now. So, to get you started:

**Oh! And…

As much as it makes me sound like a terrible style blogger, I’m really not big on vintage shopping. It’s just not my scene. I also don’t think guys are as into the idea of “going thrifting” as girls can be, so I don’t feel bad not suggesting it. Besides, t-shirt technology (YES, TECHNOLOGY) has evolved to the point that you can buy a tee that feels like you’ve had it for twenty years, for twenty bucks, and you know it hasn’t been worn by any strangers doing who-knows-what. But if you really want to, you can find some unique t-shirts on the racks at stores like Plato’s Closet and Buffalo Exchange. Just be ready to do a little digging. And wondering about your new-old tees’ previous owners…