Sep 10, 2014

Weekend Casual - Brand Spotlight & Review

It was crazy, right around when we decided to move...

It was crazy, right around when we decided to move to New York, I got flooded with review and collaboration requests. In the interests of keeping my sanity together (and making it back to the East Coast mentally and physically intact), I put a bunch of things on hold. Now that I’m settled in and waiting for my full-time job to kickstart, I finally have time to get back to these! First on the list is a new accessories brand, Weekend Casual, who were kind enough to send me some samples as an introduction to their products.

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Brand Background:

As is tradition here on Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets, I’ll kick things off by letting the brand say a bit about themselves. This isn’t me being lazy, I swear! I just feel they can do a better job telling their story than I can. Kunal Parikh, the founder, had this to say:

"Our main idea is that you don't need to spend a million bucks to look like a million bucks - we want people to be able to utilize what they already own and change up their look by adding accents to their look. And at our prices, you can afford to keep changing your look and staying up to date with the latest styles and trends on a regular basis."

The 'About Us' section on their site goes into a bit more detail:
" Our goal at WC is to deliver to our customers a simple, attractive and streamlined outlet for men to keep their style updated and on trend, with collection of ever-changing accessories. Every WC customer can trust in the knowledge that our design house creates and manufactures our quality men's accessories in the finest facilities shared by such designers as Ted Baker, J Crew and more. We're here to bring you the most engaging and efficient shopping experience. High quality at affordable prices is all part of the program. Keeping it real is what we do best."

Head over to their site to learn more.

The Selection:

So what do they offer? At this point, it’s a pretty solid selection of all things menswear accessories. The focus is on ties, but from there they branch out into bow-ties, pocket squares, cufflinks, tie clips and pins, suspenders and socks. The selections themselves range from classic and conservative to modern and fun.

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Classic and conservative...or modern and fun. Your choice.

In particular, they seem to really have a knack for the floral trend, but it will be interesting to see if this gets played down as we enter fall and winter (and what might replace it).

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Floral, floral, and more floral!

I’m also personally a huge fan of their equal emphasis on knit ties - sometimes these companies with more selective offerings skip over knits, which are my absolute favorites, so it’s great to see them getting their due!

Ties, bow-ties, cufflinks, and suspenders clock in at $19 a piece, only nominally more than at The Tie Bar, while tie clips are actually cheaper at just $9. Pre-tied bow-ties are knocked down to $17, pocket squares are $12, lapel pins are $9, and socks are $8. Big apologies if I got any of those mixed up!

What They Sent Me:

To introduce me to their duds, founder Kunal was kind enough to send me a variety of neck ties and pocket squares. I received four ties and two pocket squares:

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The ties were the highlight, in my mind. My favorite was this 100% wool tie in blue and grey stripes. It’s incredibly versatile - even in a wool fabric, the texture is loose enough to be appropriate well into the warmer months:

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Styled by yours truly. Check out that perfect dimple.

The blue and grey color scheme fits my blue-centric wardrobe perfectly, and the wide stripes are business appropriate, but preppy and bold enough to avoid being relegated to solely office-wear. I’m not seeing this exact one on their site at the moment, but it’s very similar to these other striped options (here and here), which are woven from a wool/silk blend (one of my favorite tie fabrics), and bound to be winners as well.

My second favorite was, predictably, their 'Modern Black' knit. Most of my knits now are from The Tie Bar - in comparison, this knit from Weekend Casual was a bit looser-woven and just a tad wider, which I enjoyed - slightly less hipster, but still slim enough for my own slimness:

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Again, styled by yours truly. A solid knot, especially for a knit tie.

I also love that they went beyond the solid, flat black and added an almost heathered effect - it just punches up the visual depth enough to keep a classic from getting boring.

Now, I haven’t had a chance to wear much of the rest yet, but I’m looking forward to it. The khaki tweed tie is just a bit too hefty to rock until the temps dip a bit more, but once they do, I think it will be the perfect fall/winter fabric. It’s got a definite vintage-y feel to it, and I see it adding some perfect contrast to a spread-collar denim shirt:

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Already loving the color contrast and the fabric pairing.

The other three samples (light blue floral tie, and blue and red floral pocket squares), do well to showcase the brands penchant for floral patterns. Unfortunately, the tie is 100% polyester (more on that below), but the pattern is subtle, and I could see myself pulling this out for a slightly-dressier brunch, along with a lightweight white shirt and a blue cotton suit:

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All set for the next sunny brunch.

As for the squares, I love the patterns - but just haven’t had the right dressed-down-but-suited occasion to wear them since they came in the mail. I especially dig that, while the patterns are bold, the color scheme is limited to one color (and white), which makes them so much easier to style, and less likely to come off as too dandyish.

What’s To Like:

First off, the quality of the ties is pretty impressive considering the uber-affordable price point. Construction seems on par with The Tie Bar, with neat, clean stitching, properly attached keeper loops, and a consistent shape. The fabrics themselves (besides the poly) seem, if anything, to be a step above The Tie Bar - these things just knot and drape perfectly, with just the right amount of heft. Sidebar - I hate when wool ties are too thick, leaving a knot the size of an apple, or knit ties are too thin, leaving a weak shoestring knot. These hit the balance just right. The wool and tweed are toothy without being rough, which I guess isn’t so much of a comfort issue, but still something you can notice just by looking. Well done, all around.

Also, something that struck me when talking with Kunal before receiving the samples was our discussion of their selection in comparison to The Tie Bar (probably the closest brand in terms of price and quality). Kunal said, “Rather than be a warehouse of accessories, we like to curate our collections and make our products with limited quantities so that we can continually rotate in new styles,” a mindset that I think makes a huge difference. As opposed to the Tie Bar, which can be great if you know what you are looking for, but can be a nightmare if you just want to browse for something nice. For example, in skinny silk ties alone, there are 38 pages of results to browse. There are plenty of stylish options, but they are mixed in with some, well, not-so-stylish options. Weekend Casual takes some of the legwork out of it, offering instead a more curated collection of options that is much easier to navigate. They might not have everything, but what they do have is solid and well-chosen.

Of course, I’d be horribly remiss if I didn’t point out their Essential Cause program. Real quick, I’ll let Kunal chime in one more time:

“A lot of companies do the whole Toms "one for one" kind of thing or donate to charity. We do this a little different than most, currently we have 2 causes we work with, we'll have 4 shortly - but we give our customers the option of choosing which cause suits them better, and let them choose where they want a portion of their sales to go.”

So yeah, not only does Weekend Casual embody the entrepreneurial responsibility that we value so much in our favorite brands by giving back, but they actually let you, the customer, help decide where the proceeds from your purchase are being donated. It might not be a mind-blowing feature, but I think it really goes to show where Weekend Casual’s values lie: with their community, and with you as an individual, rather than just as a consumer.

What’s Not To Like:

Polyester! Ugh, honestly one of my favorite things about The Tie Bar is that, even at their price points, they offer only 100% natural fibers - wool, cotton, silk and linen. Weekend Casual has plenty of natural-fiber options as well, but peppered into the mix are some 100% polyester ties. I guess it’s not the end of the world, but I just prefer to avoid polyester ties - and if they can offer natural fibers at their standard price, I’d say just drop the poly! Minor beef.

One more minor beef is that both of the pocket-squares I received were one sided, meaning there is a distinct front and back to the square, with only the front really being desirable to have visible. The way I fold my squares, both sides show, making double-sided squares much more desirable. Again, just a minor beef, as all it takes is a slightly different fold.

My last ‘dislike’ has to do with the site, and web design for new brands tends to see improvements quickly and early, so I’m not too worried. It would be nice in the future to be able to filter selections more, be it by color, pattern, or fabric. However, the fact alone that Weekend Casual intentionally offers a more limited selection makes this distinction almost negligible.

In Conclusion:

I think Weekend Casual makes a fantastic alternative to The Tie Bar - and even better, I don’t really see one eliminating the need for the other (or having both be overkill). The Tie Bar comes in handy when you know exactly what you want and are willing to pick through a lot of similar options to find it. Weekend Casual comes through when you are ready for something new, don’t have anything super specific in mind, and want to browse a well-put-together collection. The price is hard to beat, and the style is spot on.

BONUS: For all of you Wide Eyes, Tight Wallets readers out there, Weekend Casual was awesome enough to provide us with a discount code, ‘WCWETW’ for 25% off your order!

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tagged accessories, bow-ties, budget, cufflinks, details, in-person...