Bonobos Review: So Much More Than Pants
Founded by a couple of Stanford Business Students in 2007, Andy Dunn (still with the company today) and Brian Spaly, reshaped the way men bought clothes online when it started Bonobos.
Building their brand around pants with a curved waistband and to better avoid the “khaki diaper butt” problem, they made waves in the men’s fashion industry.
But fast-forward nearly a decade later, a lot has changed over at Bonobos.
First off, they don’t just sell chinos anymore (while they are still great as I personally have a few pairs myself), they have since expanded into other product categories including swimwear, formal wear, active wear, underwear, and even golf wear (more on all of this in a minute).
While product selection is one piece of a brand, another, and perhaps more important factor is the leadership.
Now most men with fashion sense don’t go to the men’s clothing section at Walmart to try and find hidden gems…
…that is unless you need to pick up a tropical shirt for Hawaiian day at the office (and burn donate it immediately afterwards)!
Simply put, Walmart likely isn’t the first place that comes to mind when you need to look your absolute best (no offense Walmart).
But why am I saying this?
Well last year (June 2017), Walmart actually bought Bonobos outright (source).
Yes, you read that right!
Bonobos is owned by Walmart.
In fact, to get you up to speed, Walmart has been on quite the acquisition run lately and has snapped up several trendy online retailers as evident in the footer of Walmart.com:
Why is this important?
Well inevitably, some men thought that this would lead to the demise of the quality products that Bonobos delivered as evident in these reactions when the acquisition was announced:
While I don’t know anyone who works at the company personally, through a bit of Googling and sleuthing, it looks like the culture of the company is still among the best (Glassdoor), and one of the original founders of the company, Andy Dunn (Twitter), remains in charge as the CEO to this day.
Also, the headquarters of Bonobos still holds its roots in NYC as opposed to Bentonville, AR.
Lastly, as far as I can tell, the quality of the clothes that they deliver has remain a cut above the rest in this post-acquisition era.
Why This Review Was Made
As massive as the internet is, it’s REALLY hard to get an honest opinion about a brand or product.
Based on my personal experience and what I hear from others is more often than not you will find a little Sponsored or Paid Placement tag somewhere in the article whenever someone is recommending a product or brand.
So, I want to be crystal clear:
This is NOT a paid placement or sponsored post.
I really do like Bonobos, and own many clothes from them.
If I thought a product or brand sucks – I will tell you that (as evident in this review of Harry’s).
So, take this write-up as a candid look at a menswear company that seems to be hitting all the right marks and one you might want to check out the next time you need to freshen up your wardrobe.
Product Selection Of Bonobos – Where Will It End?
One of the things that I have noticed over the years when shopping at Bonobos is their product selection.
When heading over to bonobos.com, you can now find clothes that will suit you for just about any occasion:
- Casual Pants
- Dress Pants
- Sweats & Lounge
- Shorts (For beach wear)
- Short Sleeve
- Dress Casual
- Sweaters & Sweatshirts
- Tees & Henleys
- Black Tie Formal
- Semi Formal
- Groomsmen Gifts
- Ties & Pocket Squares
- Beach Towels
- Muscle Tees & Tanks
- Short Sleeve
- Long Sleeve
Basically, they have just about every and any category when it comes to men’s apparel.
While some may think that this could spread them a bit too thin and deliver a crappy product, we think just the opposite. From underwear to pocket squares and everything in between, they are just as good (if not better) than some of the other popular options that exist in the market.
Bonobos Store Guideshop Locations
Here’s where Bonobos really puts a twist on the traditional retail model:
Instead of stores, Bonobos has Guideshops.
Unlike a traditional brick and mortar store where you can actually make a purchase and have instant gratification, Bonobos operates a bit differently (which can be tricky if you are looking for clothes at the last minute).
Their 50+ Guideshop locations act as showrooms for you to try on their apparel.
This allows you to see how any one of the variety of cuts they offer of either a dress shirt:
Or even a pair of Chinos will fit:
So, if you are unsure if a Tailored or Slim fit chino looks better, instead of asking your girlfriend, you can get an expert recommendation from one of their on-site stylists…
…which leads me to my next point:
The great part of having an on-site stylist walk you through the product selection is that you get the proper measurements for you to look your best (just be sure to book an appointment ahead of time).
But that’s not all.
One aspect that we really loved about their Guideshop is that when you create an account on Bonobos.com, they will save all your measurements.
As evident in my own account, I can see that for their pants I am a 30” length and 32” waist (yes, I know, I could probably shed a few pounds) and that a Tailored cut looks best:
Here’s the secret sauce of Bonobos though:
Once you have all your measurements set, when you shop their store you only will see the stuff that is in stock and that conforms to your size and cut.
This prevents the frustration of falling in love with a sweet button down pattern only to find that it comes in just XXL or XXS sizes!
Is Bononbos.com The Only Place To Purchase Their Stuff?
Even though Bonobos is now owned by Walmart, if you head over to Walmart.com (or even Jet.com – also owned by Walmart), you will find no signs of Bonobos clothing – in fact you are only met with pictures of the Bonobo ape and the records from Bonobo (the DJ – who was just featured on Boiler Room).
In fact, the one place where you can buy Bonobos clothing outside of Bonobos.com is actually Nordstrom, which coincidentally was an early investor in the company before they were acquired by Walmart (source).
Just a simple search for Bonobos on Nordstrom will serve you up a list of countless results (295 to be exact):
But beyond Nordstrom’s online presence, physical Nordstrom locations do dedicate a section to Bonobos as well – even the recently opened Nordstrom location here in NYC (their first store ever in the city) focuses squarely on men and stocks Bonobos clothes (so we have been told):
But if you are like me, and not looking to go out of the house unless necessary, you can still skip all the brick-and-mortar stuff and order directly from bonobos.com, here’s why you should:
Shipping & Return Policy
In the age of Prime and 2-day delivery, Bonobos keeps up with the expectations when purchasing stuff online.
If you live in the U.S., shipping and returns are absolutely free.
There is no order minimum.
Given that their clothes ship from a single warehouse on the east coast (located in Devens, MA), the shipping times can vary quite a bit.
Here’s a short 2-minute video that explains expected shipping times clearly:
Now the return policy…
Back in the day when Bonobos first started out, they had one of the most customer friendly return policies in retail.
They offered lifetime returns as seen in this screenshot of their site back in 2009:
Perhaps it was due to costs, abuse, or a mix of the two, they eventually shortened their return policy a few years later to a 90-day limit (365 days for store credit):
But fast forward to today, Bonobos now offers a much shorter 45 days to return their clothes (or 90 days to receive store credit):
While this still beats most retailers that offer only 30 days to return their clothes (and normally something we would never be nitpicky about), but given the history of shortening the days to make a return, we thought it worth bringing to your attention in this review.
Bonobos Promo Codes & Sales
The best way to get promo codes or coupons for Bonobos is to sign up for their email list (typically found at the bottom of every page).
There you can get notified on new offerings or score one-time deals for new customers.
As a quick search of my inbox will show you, they do regularly handout deals, mostly on top of items already on sale:
Similarly in our review of Huckberry (another awesome men’s online retailer), you can typically find great end of season deals – so be sure to shop accordingly.
Unbiased Reviews From Other Men
One thing that we haven’t covered yet is customer service.
Known as Ninja’s, the Bonobos Customer Service team is second to none.
Being incredibly responsive to requests and always trying to make things right, they set the gold standard for menswear companies.
To further hammer this home, here are some telling interactions that others have had with the Bonobos Ninja team:
And here are some other men’s insights when it comes to the quality of the clothes themselves:
Final Thoughts On Bonobos
Based on both my personal experience and those elsewhere, Bonobos overall is a pretty great online men’s retailer and one worth trying.
While I recommend them mostly for men looking to get new dress pants or for semi-formal wear (think button downs, chinos, etc.), the quickly expanding product line makes them worth considering for other parts of your life as well (and yes, even when you plan on hitting the greens).
So, check them out today and see if you can find anything that will work with your wardrobe – we think you will be pretty happy with the results.