Editor's Note: Welcome to my first ever guest post. Let me introduce you to my internet/blogging friend, David, who blogs over at Intentional Threads about ethical menswear and Christianity. We decided to compile a list of ethically made gifts that you can give this season. You can check out my list for the ladies over on his blog.
Let me start with a confession: I know absolutely nothing about women's fashion. If I had to find a Christmas gift for a stylish lady, I would have no idea where to start, other than men's brands that just happen to sell some women's stuff too. I imagine that the inverse must be true for some of you ladies as well. Luckily, I know a thing or two about ethically made men's clothing and lifestyle goods (whatever that means), which is why Laura graciously invited me to compile this list of gift ideas.
The following list is an incredibly biased collection of items that I personally would love to own (or already own) from some awesome brands that range from "I think I've heard of them before" to "I've never heard of this brand in my life." I highly encourage you to click around the websites of some of these brands and explore some of their other wares as well.
Also, a disclaimer: Many of the products listed here happen to be available through one of my favorite e-retailers, Huckberry. Many of those products are available at a slight discount if you purchase through them, and I happen to be a Huckberry affiliate, which means if you purchase an item after clicking through one of the affiliate links in this post, I receive a small commission. If you'd rather not purchase through them, that's totally cool too, and I've included the links to the manufacturers' websites wherever I could (some of the products are only available through Huckberry). Also, they have a few curated gift guides that you might find helpful.
Campfire Cologne- $13
There's nothing quite like the smell of a campfire. To me, a campfire smells like nostalgia, carefree summers, and happiness. That Abercrombie & Fitch cologne your boyfriend has been using for the past two years? It smells like retail, buyer's remorse, and mall kiosk. There's no spritzing mechanism here, because this is a man's cologne. You strike a match (fire!), light one or several of the wood sticks (fire!), and waft the campfire smoke into your beard (beard!). Not convinced yet? Watch this video. You're welcome.
Made in Oregon.
An Issue of The Collective Quarterly- $25
Buyer beware: if you purchase one of these magazines as a gift, you may want to keep it for yourself. The Collective Quarterly is sincerely the single best periodical I've ever read. There are no ads, just tastefully done product placements from companies that the magazine believes in. There are no throwaway articles, just the heartwarming stories of creatives and entrepreneurs. Each issue focuses on an obscure city you've probably never heard of (#hipster), and there are two issues so far. If you already have a pronounced case of wanderlust, you should probably stay away.
Available from Huckberry for $22 with free shipping, only Issue 0 is available.
Printed in Canada.
The only thing I have to shave is my neckbeard, so I personally have never experienced the joy of fancy shaving products. However, I've been using Imperial Barber's pomade for the past year or so, and it's some really high quality stuff. I've been told that women appreciate when a guy invests some time in a good shave, so maybe this can be your not-so-subtle hint. For extra cool points, consider pairing with a subscription to Dollar Shave Club (you mean you haven't seen their viral video yet??) or upgrade to the Field Shave Kit for an extra $24.
Made in California.
Apolis Keychain- $38
I've been using this exact keychain for the past couple years, and it has aged beautifully. The oiled and vegetable tanned leather has acquired an incredible patina, and the military standard hardware has proven to be plenty durable. If your man has a giant key fob for his car, it's really nice to get that bulk out of his pockets. If you're not a fan of the tan/olive combo, there are six other color configurations available.
Made in California.
There's something unusually satisfying about writing with a pen made from a solid piece of metal. Every single person that I've let borrow this pen from me immediately wanted to steal it. There's a variety of models and metals available (the brass models are insanely heavy), and this particular one uses ink refills from the popular and easy-to-find Pilot G2, which aren't included, by the way. At $45, this isn't much more expensive than the cheesy pen gift sets from Staples or Walmart.
Many of Karas' pens are available through Huckberry at a discount, but this particular model is sold out.
Made in Arizona.
Does your significant other enjoy carefully crafted #artisinal cocktails? $12 drinks can be delicious, but there's something to be said for enjoying a nice drink at home, especially when you don't have to worry about driving. This kit has everything you need to start making your own cocktails, including the Mason Shaker. Everyone knows mason jars are made for Instagram. The following quote is straight from the book:
Book printed in New York, everything else made somewhere in USA, I think? Don't quote me on it.
Scarves aren't exactly the most masculine article of clothing, but in some parts of the country, they can be a necessity. This scarf has a very no-nonsense design. No frilly do-dads, no pattern. Just a high quality Japanese oxford cotton that's been washed for softness and overdyed in a versatile, matches-with-everything navy. For the more adventurous guy, The Hill-Side offers a full collection of scarves in arguably some of the best fabrics and patterns in menswear. If you're as intrigued by The Hill-Side as I am, they also sell pocket squares, bandanas, ties, key chains, socks, belts, blazers, watch straps..... (deep breath) hats, tote bags, sneakers, shirts, wallets, card cases, and iron-on patches.
I think this backpack might be one of the best bargains on this list. At $74, it costs pretty much the same as the ever-popular, made-in-who-knows-where Herschel Supply backpacks, except these backpacks are made in the USA, and a portion of every purchase goes towards funding scholarships for students in Tanzania. The design is simple and uncluttered, and the padded laptop sleeve keeps your valuables safe. If only the laptop was included...
Made in California.
Out of all the brands on this list, Warby Parker is probably the most recognizable. While they're mostly known for their super-affordable eyeglasses, they do sell some stylish shades as well at the same $95 price point. The Griffin is an excellent alternative to the timeless Persol 649 at a fraction of the price. Plus, for every pair purchased, one is distributed to someone in need of affordable eyeglasses, which increases productivity in developing countries and empowers female entrepreneurs who sell Vision Spring eyewear, Warby Parker's non-profit partner.
Made in China, but I'd be willing to bet the working conditions are better than Ray-Ban or Persol's factories in Italy.
You know how the wallets at Macy's or Kohl's say "genuine leather" on them? Genuine leather is actually one of the lowest grades of leather out there, which is why those wallets don't last too long before getting all nasty. formfunctionform uses some of the finest leathers, many of them sourced from the famed Horween tannery in Chicago. This is probably their most unique wallet.
It comes bundled with a Fisher space pen which has its own dedicated slot (in case you ever need to jot down your thoughts in space) as well as a small Moleskine notebook. There's enough room between the two slots for anywhere between 8-13 credit cards as well as some folded bills, and the leather does stretch over time. It's pretty far from a typical wallet, but most everyone who uses one immediately falls in love with the design (just take a look at the reviews). There's a full array of colors available, but you can't go wrong with brown or black, in my humble opinion.
Available from Huckberry for $89 + shipping, but only in the Natural Chromexcel with matte black hardware colorway.
Made in Florida by an awesome guy named Shawn.
Half Dome Wood Print- $130
This is one of those things that I would never spend the money on myself, but would absolutely love to own. If your significant other has ever been (or wanted to go) to Yosemite, they'll love this beautiful wall hanging of Half Dome printed on maple wood veneer.
Made somewhere in USA.
Yes, Apolis again. Trust me, I tried really hard to keep this down to two items from Apolis. If I had my way, every single item on this list would be from my favorite brand ever. Most cameras these days come with a strap included, but they're usually pretty awful. If your man loves his camera, this is the perfect photographer's accessory. Unlike the cheaper Transit Issue strap, this one features metal fasteners to attach to a DSLR. Nice cameras deserve nice straps.
Made in California.
Rogue Territory Jeans- $220
If you've never heard of raw denim before, here's the short explanation: most denim is treated with chemicals and washed in the factory to give it a certain "distressed" look. Raw denim is untreated and unwashed, just plain 'ole indigo dyed denim. They start out as a "blank canvas" with no fading or distressing, like this, and eventually with lots of wear, they end up looking something like this, depending on your lifestyle, how often you wear them, how often you wash them, etc. By the way, you rarely ever wash raw denim, once or twice a year on average. Yeah, really.
Rogue Territory offers two fits, the Stanton, which is a slim-straight, and the SK, which is a skinny or slim tapered fit. Each one comes in a variety of weights, colors, and other details. Weights and sizing and fits can all be a bit overwhelming, so if you have any questions at all, shoot me an email at email@example.com and I'd love to help you out. I know of plenty of more affordable raw denim brands as well.
Made in California.
You know when you're spending the night at a friend's house, and need to bring a change of clothes and some toiletries over, but don't necessarily need a whole suitcase? Or maybe you're going on a quick weekend trip? Duffle bags are perfect for that sort of thing. This particular duffle is done in a beautiful water resistant waxed canvas with tanned leather handles, brass zipper, and copper rivets. I imagine it's the perfect size for a gym bag, but I would never take something this nice into a place that smells so bad.
Available from Huckberry for $215 with free shipping, but only in the olive drab color shown here. More colors available directly from Joshu + Vela.
Made in California.
Shinola "Runwell" Watch- $550
If a lady ever bought this for me, I'd immediately propose upon opening it, have the wedding the next day, and renew my vows every day for all eternity. End of story.
Made in Michigan. Detroit, actually. No, really.