Four Last-Minute Wish List Style Upgrades

Jake Colvin is the editor of Modern Fellows, www.modernfellows.com

It's getting down to crunch time for those holiday wish lists. If you find yourself unsure of what to give or get this year, here are five digital age solutions to finding unique style upgrades for the millennial man.

The problem with finding a great gift for modern professionals is that the vast majority of them are filling their own wish list this holiday season. More than 70 percent of 18-24 year olds will self-gift this year, suggesting truly coveted items probably won’t show up on a wish list at all.

Here’s an alternative: Find a gift that allows the recipient to broaden his style horizon and get to know an innovative new retailer.  Despite a proliferation of high-quality online efforts catering to men, many shoppers are still reluctant to take the plunge, particularly when it comes to clothing. A well-considered gift via one of the options below can help break down that reluctance and put a man on a permanent path to improved style options. As a bonus, you get a great American story to go along with that gift.

Here is how to help:

1. Develop new brand loyalty.

Digital entrepreneurs are cutting out the middle man and improving the value of essential menswear staples.  There is Bonobos’s  focus on perfectly-fitting pants, Raleigh-based Lumina Clothing’s relaxed take on modern work wear, bright socks from second-generation Alabama manufacturer Zkano, well-crafted wardrobe basics from Everlane, fifteen dollar ties from Thetiebar.com, and stylish dress shirts from Washington, DC-based Hugh & Crye, just to name a few.

2. Find a new go-to retailer.

Emerging e-tailers like the recently-founded Mind the Chap are curating clothing and other essentials from around the country and introducing men to new labels. The Made Collection, a Colorado-based startup that features products and commentary that are made in America, is now a featured partner of Esquire.

3. Dip a toe into mail-order custom clothing.

Since 2010, accessible and affordable online custom tailoring has exploded. While it’s too complicated and late in the game to design the perfect suit or dress shirt, get a gift-certificate and pick out a fabric that you like from a reputable online retailer. Choose a company that offers an unconditional fit guarantee, like Black Lapel, Proper Cloth or Ratio Clothing.

4. Consider alternative retail options.

Entrepreneurs are having a field day with alternative retail concepts, from flash sales and monthly boxes of casual clothing to “Netflix for neckties” and the ever-proliferating and likely unsustainable Groupon-like daily deal sites. Try to pick one that will last past next year by going with a major player like Gilt City or a company such as Trunk Club  that has managed to create some buzz.

So this year, don’t go for the sure thing.  Take a chance on a new product or service from a digital age entrepreneur.