h1Rules for dressing are silly. Style is like being funny. You're born with it or you're not. It's not something you learn.
Brad Bennett, Well Spent
It's not every day that you meet someone who really puts his money where his mouth is - particularly when it comes to clothes. Brad Bennett is that kind of guy. As the founder of Well Spent, he showcases only menswear brands and products that meet three strict criteria: They must be responsibly made (sweatshop-free, or from sustainable materials etc.), look good, and be relatively affordable. In an age where many purchase decisions boil down to price comparisons by default, Well Spent is a go-to source for living ethically and sustainably – with less sacrifice than you'd think. It's a refreshing point of view from a site devoted to style.
A recent addition to the SAY 100 Gear and Style channel, we caught up with Brad to find out what men's style brands live up to his quality standards right now, what other men's style sites are doing it right, and his advice for looking good while you beat the heat (spoiler: don't wear skinny jeans).
Your blog covers honestly crafted products that look good and don’t cost an arm and a leg. Give us a taste - what are some of your favorite brands that embody that same ethos? There's a great brand out of Colorado called Topo Designs that makes super affordable, vintage-inspired nylon bags. Not only are the bags made here, but the facility they're made in is LEED certified. Another good one is Tennessee's Pointer Brand, which makes tough-as-nails chore coats and aprons in their own century-old factory. Amazingly, every component of every product they produce is sourced from within the US, and yet their prices are extremely reasonable. Lastly, there's a new brand from Vermont called Jed & Marne, which, through their fair practice / fair wage partnership with a group of Guatemalan master weavers, produces what are probably my favorite shorts of all time. Exceedingly comfortable, great looking and very well priced.
What are the few special items every guy should have in his closet? At least one pair of selvedge jeans (I'm partial to Left Field myself), a well-fitting pair of khakis (the Gios from Unis are a great option), one blue, one pink and one white oxford shirt (I'd go with Gitman Vintage for these), a good chambray shirt (doesn't get better than Engineered Garments for that), white sneakers (I like the organic cotton Ethletics from Autonomie Project), and a soft-shouldered blue blazer (I'm all about the Italian brand Tagliatore for this one).
What have been some of your most popular posts? And why do you think they resonated? That'd probably be the Instead of Rent series. I guess, conceptually, it's something people can relate to. Who hasn't entertained the idea of blowing their rent money on a non-necessity purchase? Plus, it's got pretty pictures.
You also do freelance marketing / digital strategy work. Any inside advice for brands looking to work with bloggers like you? Yeah, learn the blogger's name before emailing them. Every blogger has their name somewhere on their site. Look for it.
What other bloggers do you appreciate reading around men's style? Who else is doing it right? Secret Forts is always good. Plus, James, the site's author, is probably the best dressed person I've met in real life. The GQ Eye is solid too, thanks largely to Sean Hotchkiss and his consistently excellent copy. Mister Crew is another good one. Always tasteful. The Sig Other is also great, and written by one of the most stylish women you'd ever hope to meet. Simple Threads and WaxWane are written by younger guys who are clearly on their way to great things. And then, of course, there's Valet, which is constantly raising the bar for all of us.
What's something your readers would be surprised to learn about you? I don't really know what assumptions they have about me, so that's hard to say. Maybe that I have tattoos? Or that I grew up in the metal / hardcore scene? Or maybe that my parents own a sweatshop in China? That last one is a joke.
Men's jewelry – any rules or thoughts on what works or doesn't? Whatever. Everyone can wear what they want. Rules for dressing are silly. Style is like being funny. You're born with it or you're not. It's not something you learn. People who have good style do jewelry well. People who don't, don't.
Who are your style icons and why? There's no single person (or small group of persons) that I would consider a personal icon. My inspiration is a lot more random than that. If I see an image that speaks to me, I bookmark it. Doesn't matter where it's from, or who it's of (well, for the most part).
You're based in Chicago. Any fashion dos and don'ts for men looking to beat the heat (and still look good) this summer season? Don't wear skinny jeans. Don't wear beanies or any other kind of knit hats. Do ride bikes. Do go to the beach. And make sure to drink lots of water.
Follow Brad on Twitter @WLLSPNT.