In Search of the Best Men's Monthly Subscription Box: A Review of Gentleman's Box (August 2017)
It seems like nowadays all of these subscription box services are a dime a dozen. There are literally too many to keep track of (though this website is gonna try, it seems). Yet, at the same time, many guys out there really seem to like some of them. One monthly box subscription service for men that I've heard lots about is Gentleman's Box. Wanting to see what it was all about — box services in general, and this one in particular — I placed an order for my first Gentleman's Box.
They cost $25, though you'll save a few bucks on your first box with a pop-up coupon on their site. After that, though, you can be expecting to pay $25 a month. After holding my breath for a few days, the box arrived. Asides from a coupon or two, here is what was inside:
"Gentleman Collective" Plaid Tie: This is a substantial-feeling "cotton blend" tie that is a versatile addition to anyone's tie collection. I happen to really like it. It's 2.75" wide which is a bit shy of the usual 3" that I wear and recommend (as it's a more timeless width), but it's not at all comically skinny if you are skinny-tie-averse like I am. Still, I would like to see some 3" ties from these boxes, so we'll keep you posted on that as we review more as they come in.
"Wolf" Argyle Socks: Proving that actual human stylists are putting together these boxes, this pair of socks perfectly matches and compliments the tie. Quality-wise they feel fine. Like any good pair of socks...
"Modern Made Man" Leather Card Case / Wallet: I am unclear as to what this thing is made out of. You would think if it were made out of genuine leather it would be stamped somewhere on the outside, but no such marking exists. It feels fine; a bit rubbery. It's certainly a great card case / wallet, especially if you're looking to upgrade from a bulky old wallet (which you really should!). For me, though, I'll be sticking with my Chester Mox which is made in the USA out of fantastic, real leather, looks and feels a thousand times better and nicer, is a better size, and is still just as great as the day I got it.
"Gentleman Essentials" Blue Bead Bracelet: Here is where things might go a little south for some. It's a fine bracelet, with what appear to be quality beads on a somewhat flimsy feeling elastic string. But for someone that does not usually wear any sort of bracelet, this is a bit too "out there" to be the small step into the ocean. While it is true that sometimes being given an item you never otherwise would have bought ends in you actually using and liking it (as, once you have it, why not use it?), it also sometimes ends the opposite way. For non-bracelet wearers, this will likely sit in a drawer somewhere, or be given away. While getting items outside your comfort zone is part of what boxes like these is all about, it's always a bummer to see something and instantly know you're never going to make use out of it. Then again, that is totally just me. For those of you that might like this sort of thing, it's perfectly good!
"Brickell" Face Wash: This is the aspect of these boxes I was most excited about. While I can find nice ties and accessories by myself, buying grooming product samples is not something you can really just do. The fact that you get to try a little bit of a new product like this every month, and maybe discover something new that you like a lot, is super great. You get one ounce of this aloe, geranium, and coconut "clarify gel face wash." It's a bit on the stickier/thicker side of things. It's not super fragrant when applied, and washes off nicely with a quick rinse. I would even imagine that some of it gets absorbed into your skin, but I'm no expert. It's not my favorite facial scrub that I've ever used, but I'll use it until it's finished, so that says something.
Gentleman's Post: This magazine-like booklet is a little monthly pamphlet put together by the people at Gentleman's Box that details how to wear and style the various items you received in your box, along with complimentary colors that match with all the items in addition to a brief description and prices for everything in the box as well. There are also one or two shorter "articles" on something relevant to that month's box; this month there was a guide to how to properly wash your face. This Gentleman's Post is apparently something that really sets Gentleman's Box apart, as no similar other monthly boxes have something quite like it. Is it the most amazing menswear pamphlet you'll ever read? No. But it's definitely nice to have, adds to the experience, and is an enjoyable 5-minute read as you spend time opening your box for the first time.
Together with any Gentleman's Box subscription you also, apparently, receive a free 1 year subscription to GQ magazine. I would imagine that most people read all that sort of stuff online these days, but hey, I'll take it.
The box shipped pretty quickly, was nicely packaged, and overall, delivered on all its promises. However, I cannot help but feel a little bit scammed when it comes to all of these new subscription box services. The way that they promise you a value two or three times (or more) of what you paid always seems to rub me the wrong way. Sure, at retail price, you've gotten more than what you paid for. And I understand that they surely worked with these companies to offer these products at such a good deal in exchange for the exposure. And typical reviewers of these boxes always explain that if you get even one or two items that you like, you've come out ahead (as they likely total $25 or more by themselves). But what this all seems to be missing is that what, really, is a box of stuff from companies that no one has ever heard of actually worth? Do you not usually buy things on sale anyway, and thus aren't the sticker prices on these items irrelevant? The retail price of these items is surely more than $25, but you now have a monthly expense that you otherwise would not have had, for a box of unknown items.
Of course, none of this is a secret, it's just important to be aware of. In fact, many people will tell you this is all exactly the point of these boxes: to discover new products from obscure brands that you otherwise never would have had access to, and have them delivered to you neatly in a box without lifting a finger, even if that means some items will sit unused in a drawer somewhere. Maybe I just need to warm up more to this business model. After all, I can say personally that it was a heck of a lot of fun to open up my box of surprises, and I'm very much looking forward to using all the products within it that I actually can get use out of. That's no small thing.
Considering all the various box companies are pretty similarly priced, and what they offer is likewise pretty similar, with each company having its own particular focus, Gentleman's Box gives you a little bit of everything. You've got your more major items, your accessories, and your grooming. It was a great foray into the subscription box game for me, and would likely be for anyone else out there as well.
Next up we'll be reviewing SprezzaBox!