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ALPHA MALE: Searching for Your Perfect Brand

Wednesday, August 01, 2012


When you were young, you were loyal to your clothing brands, from Levi's jeans to Vans sneakers. Discover your brands now and embrace them. Photo: WHARF Clothing.

Everyone remembers a favorite piece of clothing or brand they loved from their youth. Whether it was that well-worn pair of Levi's denim, beat up Vans sneakers or Ralph Lauren Polo, there are items you loved and wore until they were tattered, ravaged by use, and wrought with holes (and patches). Chances are you still tried to wear it even after it should have been put in the donate pile, when it probably was no longer

appropriate for public appearances, and its loss fittingly mourned.

But that is what made your favorite your favorite, right?

The item itself became as important as the utility of the item. In menswear, this is the ultimate goal. Design, manufacture and offer pieces that transcend the trends and become your favorites because they not only function as they should, but you love them because you know, this time, you found the right pants or sneakers or shirt.

It is a process of trial and error. Iconic brands like Ralph Lauren, Nike or Levi's become so engrained in your mind because, more often than not, they get it right. As a guy, few things are more gratifying than finding an item for your wardrobe or the toolbox or the garage that you know: a) works and b) once you own it, you never have to think about it again. We, as guys, are pretty easily satified like that. The old, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it" mantra.

Buy In

There is a reason it is cliche. Like your favorite brand, more often than not it does right by us. So when you find a brand or article of clothing that fits the mantra, do not settle on it. Be more thoughtful and more invested. BUY IN. Make the commitment to that item that truly works for you. Buy 2, heck buy 3! Because when you find the right shirt or shoe or pant, there is no rule that says you cannot have more of the same. This helps eliminate guesswork and allows you to focus on accenting your staples by playing with fabrics and color while not having to worry about whether it fits right. If something fits you right, you have already won. Anything else like colors, patterns, seasonal details, etc. merely up your personal style.

The case for the Oxford shirt

There is a reason white Oxford cotton shirts sell better than any other shirt. They are a reliable staple, a blank canvas on which to paint the rest of a man's wardrobe. Every guy I know has at least 2 usually. Again, the guesswork has been limited. So next, find a fit that works for you because you know you will be buying a white Oxford shirt. Again, trial and error. In my store, I carry an in-house line of staple shirts including a white Oxford. It has a great cut, uses beautiful fabrics and looks great. But it does not fit every guy. Some guys come in and find another brand's fit like GANT Rugger or life/after/denim that is better for them. Some guys walk away disappointed having not found anything.

But that does not mean you should stop searching. Because once you find the one, that item you wear over and over, there is no need ever again to mourn its loss to the donate pile when you can reach into the closet for a nice crisp one that fits you as perfectly as the last one.

Robert Babigian is owner of WHARF Clothing & Wares, a menswear retail boutique located at 212 Westminster Street in Providence, RI. A native Rhode Islander, Rob started WHARF after 2 decades in marketing and sales to fulfill his desire to combine his loves of consumer branding, small business and style that would fulfill a niche for desirable men's clothing in the Providence market. The apparel and accessories found at WHARF reflect Rob's own personal aesthetic—a combination of traditional New England staples mixed with modern fits, construction and fabrics blended together with a touch of European style. For more tips or to shop the store, stop in and see Rob and his staff or reach them online at shopwharf.com.


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