Anthropologists have an interesting rule: the complexity of a civilization is positively correlated to its specialization. In other words, more specialists & deeper knowledge = a more developed society.
This rule is highly evident in one area of our culture: menswear. Thanks to the internet the depth and breadth of sartorial options available to the modern man is breathtaking, even intimidating. You know we’re living in some sort of Menswear Golden Age when entire companies are started on the premise, “Tie clips… damn it, there’s got to be a better way!”
Primer wants you to be on the leading edge of menswear innovation, so we’ve put together a list of 5 companies & technologies you should know about.
Primer Partner Pick:
1. Anson Belt & Buckle
Lose the holes, gain versatility
You might be asking yourself, “What is a belt doing on a Most-Innovative list?” The belt is a bit like the wheel: circular, ancient, solid. But consider this: when was the last time you lost or gained a bit of weight? Were you suddenly stuck between belt holes and wearing your pants too loose or too tight? And unless you take care to regularly condition a leather belt, it’s going to show unsightly creases over time. This is especially true if you gain weight and have to reveal more of the belt.
When you stop and think about it, it makes absolutely no sense to use belts with pre-set holes in the modern era. We have the technology for adjustable, custom-fit belts at a reasonable price point – why not put it to use?
The micro-adjustable belt has been around for awhile but Anson Belt & Buckle has taken the adjustable belt to the next level in terms of quality, selection, and style.
Founded in 2009 by a father and son team, Anson offers over a dozen buckle styles and more than 20 belts that are all interchangeable for true versatility. This means you can get a buckle (or two) you really like and then swap them between belt colors depending on what your outfit requires.
The buckles in Antiqued Gold and Gunmetal are perfect for casual applications, while Anson’s classic gold, silver, and black work well with a suit or work getup combo. Leather belts are available in a variety of colors and finishes, along with cloth belts for Saturday afternoon at the beer garden.
2. Algorithm-Driven Menswear
Custom Clothing Without the Insane Cost
Algorithms power our modern lives, from Google’s search results to self-driving cars to dating website results calibrated for maximum compatibility. It’s no wonder that algorithms have found their way into menswear, and the reason is pretty cool: to free you from the tyranny of five-sizes-fits-all.
Stantt uses an algorithm to generate bespoke-fitting dress and casual shirts. Input three measurements and Stantt outputs one of 75 sizes in their database, created from body scans of real guys. If you don’t have a tape measure, Stantt will send you a measurement kit for free.
Proper Cloth takes a slighstly different approach: an 11-item questionnaire that covers everything from typical t-shirt size to belly convexity to how snug you like your shirts. Based on the results, they output a bespoke shirt or blazer.
Shopping either company won’t come cheap – expect to pay between $75 and $200 per piece – but consider what it’s worth to have something that fits you as your body demands.
3. The Magic Wallet
A 100 Year Old Piece of Ingenuity, Refreshed
The story goes the so-called Magic Wallet was invented by French waiters in the 1920s to quickly stash tips and receipts. Whether this exact provenance is true or not is beside the point: it’s definitely a magic piece of gear.
Technically a tetraflexagon, magic wallets utilize elastic bands to retain money, cards, and whatever else you throw at them. Simply place on one face and fold and hey presto – your belongings are secured by the bands. The sleight of hand never gets old or less enjoyable, but it’s their slim profile that’s the real selling point. If you’re ready to ditch a bulky traditional wallet, check out these options at J Crew and Amazon.
4. Space-Age Anti-Microbial Fabrics
Wear Astronaut-Inspired Engineering for Work & Play
Life is stressful. Men sweat. Sweat stinks. And it transfers that stink and stain to whatever you’re wearing, regardless of how inconvenient or embarassing. Fortunately, some innovative startups are trying to address this age-old problem with technology and forward-thinking design.
Strongbody is performance workout gear utilizing anti-bacterial, anti-microbial, pile-resistant fabrics that get their potency from Chitosan, a compound derived from crab and shrimp shells. According to one study, Chitosan works by disrupting the cell walls of bacteria, making it impossible for them to live in the presence of the compound – think of it like a rumble strip that punctures the thick wall of a tire. Worry not, however – the compound isn’t harmful to structures on the scale of your skin cells.
Ministry of Supply is known for bringing space-age technology to office-and-evening-ready dress shirts, jackets, and slacks. Launched in Boston by MIT grads, they utilize a variety of technologies, including phase-change material which adjusts to the body's temperature, and warped knit fabric that looks normal but actually affords the wearer significantly more range of motion that traditional cotton. Ministry of Supply also makes use of antimicrobial tech, though their main focus is using innovation for a superior fit.
If you’re tired of spilling mustard on shirts and ruining them, Aussie company Threadsmiths has you covered: their hydrophobic t-shirts, polos, and dress shirts mean moisture runs off, rather than soaks in. It’s an innovative solution to the unnerving trouble spots underneath the arms.
5. Microfiber Pocket Square
A Dual Purpose Accessory for the Digital Age
Pocket squares add color, style, and distinction to a blazer or suit jacket. What they don’t contribute? Function. That is, until now.
Several companies, foremost among them Declan, are making pocket squares and handkerchiefs from microfiber cloth, the same fabric used for no-scratch screen and eyeglass material. It’s an idea so simple and elegant you wonder why it wasn’t done years ago, but we’re not complaining – one of the oldest menswear accessories has an internet age purpose.
Special thanks to Anson Belt & Buckle for partnering with us on this post
Check out their full line of interchangable micro-adjustable belts and buckles – their $100 gift box gives you 6 different belt options!