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Hello fellow men, how do you want to shop? I ask because I genuinely don’t know. I spend an outsized amount of time trying to figure this out, picking the brains of a recurring cast of characters: The Girl With the Badly Dressed Boyfriend, The Friend Who’s Tried It All, The Boss I Should Pretend to Be More Knowledgeable Around.
Everyone — department stores, boutiques, the internet — is working overtime to have the honor of dressing you. The latest tactic that has my attention is so-called weekday and weekend packs that promise to make you look professional for work and/or relaxed for your days off, usually at a value price.
They aren’t that different from Hanes (or Margiela) T-shirt packs, but brands like Kotn and Nice Laundry are differentiating themselves by mixing multiple categories and ascribing specific purposes to the kits. It almost feels educational, like Getting Dressed 101: Wear nice stuff during the week and chill stuff on the weekends. It’s one baby step up from Mom buying you day-of-the-week underwear.
These brands contend that even with office casualization, there’s still a difference between what what a lot of men wear at home and what they can get away with at work. Nice Laundry’s $95 work week and $65 weekend boxes offer the same underwear (five pairs for work week, three for weekend), but diverge stylistically when it comes to the socks; while you’d definitely be a Fun Sock Guy with either pack, the weekend version includes zanier prints, like a camo option.
Nice Laundry co-founder Ricky Choi finds that “most of our customers are coming from a very basic product.” “Basic” means he was inspired to start the business because his co-founder would wear nice shoes with white gym socks. (That sound you hear is hundreds of teens calling out “Daaaaaad.”)
Kotn offers $248 weekday kits with three T-shirts, two polos, five pairs of underwear, and a tote bag; the $258 weekend kits have two T-shirts, a hoodie, a pair of sweats, two briefs, and a backpack. “This is really how men shop,” claims co-founder Rami Helali. He says Kotn’s packs were born because customers would buy one T-shirt and then come back a fortnight later and buy a dozen at a time. These are men of simple pleasures, clearly.
Helali says that men are stubborn (though he uses the kinder word “loyal”) when they find something they like. Convenience is also a huge selling point for guys who can use these one-stop packs as another excuse to avoid regular shopping trips.
These packs aren’t meant for a sophisticated customer. Nice Laundry’s packs are for a guy just getting interested in style, someone who wants to go beyond the white gym sock by making one purchase and suddenly having a whole week’s worth of stuff. It takes the pain out of picking what to purchase and what to wear, says Choi. (And every time someone buys into this concept, Mark Zuckerberg starts involuntarily shouting about decision fatigue.)
According to the buying patterns of Kotn’s customers, this practice has only really burrowed deep in the reptilian brains of men. “When we had the women's line, it sold really well,” Helali says. “But we sold almost no three-packs of T-shirts to women.” It was the exact opposite of how men shopped: Women wanted variety, but men weren’t looking for that, Helali observed.
Unlike similar-sounding subscription boxes, these packs give you the pieces, then let you build on them however you want. Conversely, Helali contends subscription boxes “play a game trying to figure out the style of men and then cater to it.” That, to me, feels like a losing game. But men will always need the staples packaged together in these packs. Without having to buy into a monthly service, it creates a base that gets guys on the fast track to looking nice, and most of the time, nice is enough.