Style Is The Man: This Online Shop Wants to Make Classic, Luxury Menswear More Accessible in the Philippines - Lookbook

A man of style is hardly ever found. This new business hopes to change that.

Hardly Ever Found, an online boutique, has been launched to make luxury menswear more accessible in the Philippines.

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Currently, the boutique offers a collection of shirts, shoes (boots, derbys, loafers, monkstraps, Oxfords), neckties, and fabrics (shirting, suiting, outerwear). These range from P800 to P16,800.

The menswear selections hail from brands like Berwick 1707, Cerruti 1881, Ermenegildo Zegna, F. Marino Napoli, Gianfranco Ferré, Guy Laroche, Lanolini, Les Copains, Luca D’Altieri, P. Fumagalli, Pierre Balmain, Profumo, Trussardi, Ungara, Valentino, and Vanny Napoli.

By removing barriers to entry, Hardly Ever Found hopes to make menswear more accessible to those who otherwise find wardrobe essentials either too expensive or unavailable—especially people who are only getting into fashion now.

Hardly Ever Founders

The new brand is the brainchild of a group of menswear enthusiasts from different backgrounds who would usually hang out at tailoring boutiques.

These are Galan founder and former The Bespoke Man blogger Kevin Yapjoco, Tiño chief operating officer Tristan Ramirez, private equity person Aaron Chan, and longtime men’s lifestyle media professional Aurelio Icasiano.

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A post shared by Hardly Ever Found (@hardlyeverfound)

“We all liked talking about clothes so I guess it was a natural progression from there,” Icasiano tells Lifestyle Asia.

From talking about how difficult it was to get started into classic menswear, the group thought about creating a platform that would make things a little easier.

About half a year later, they are ready for launch.

Perfect Fit

“We saw an opportunity during the pandemic to enter the e-commerce space, particularly after it boomed when traditional brick and mortar retail saw a decline. It became natural for people in the business to transition to online,” Chan explains.

The same type of platform has worked in the United States and the United Kingdom, as seen in the success of Mr. Porter, No Man Walks Alone, and The Rake.

Although many local ukay-ukay (secondhand) sellers are found online, none are focused on classic menswear.

“We wanted to offer a premium buying experience—as opposed to an Instagram store where people type “MINE”—and a greater selection of products they wouldn’t find elsewhere,” Yapjoco contrasts.

They see the market as “very open” to the idea of an online boutique for luxury menswear, spurred by a decrease in travel and an increase in spending due to the phenomenon of “revenge retail.”

Go Well Together

So far, the market they’re targeting starts in their mid to late twenties upward.

“It’s for people who are trying to get into the menswear scene but who are not yet ready to spend the big bucks. But it’s also for people who know what they want, what they’re doing, and are on the hunt for a fair or great deal. And that’s something Hardly Ever Found does provide,” Chan expounds.

The selling point of the Hardly Ever Found collection is that their items are difficult to source locally and even harder to find at an accessible price point.

Rather than having any direct competition in the local retail scene, the brand sees itself as a service that is both unique and complementary to what is already on the market.

“As it stands, we’re not really competing with any other retailers out there. Primarily, because what we’re offering is a mid-range entry point into luxury menswear,” Icasiano clarifies.

“Our focus is on providing the things that will help menswear enthusiasts complete their wardrobe—whether it’s fabric or shoes, or accessories. And we think these would go well with the other things they buy from other retailers.”

Paying For Quality

Fabrics from European mills form a large part of Hardly Ever Found’s inventory.

This is a big deal, according to Yapjoco, because people look for specific brands and designers in the world of luxury that match the aesthetic and quality they are looking for.

“Regarding the fabrics, you do not want to pay $500 for a suit to receive materials worth $20 or less. It’s like going to a fine dining restaurant and then suddenly being served instant noodles,” Chan likens.

In the short term, the brand is considering providing made-to-order services where clients choose any of their fabrics and select a garment model to make through any of their tailoring partners like Tiño and Galán.

“It’s a game-changer for a few reasons. The first is that we place a major emphasis on selling quality fabrics, which is something that’s difficult to get here, outside of tailoring boutiques,” Icasiano notes.

The online boutique will eventually have a physical space where customers can visit and see their products up close, especially since items like fabrics are “best felt with one’s hand.” In time, they could expand to accessories like bags and small leather goods.

Men To Be

Aside from offering luxury menswear, Hardly Ever Found will release content in line with its mission of growing the fashion community.

“We’re taking a bit of an editorial approach to what we’re doing. Over the next few months, we’re rolling out content that will help people understand what we love about menswear, and hopefully, what they’ll love about it as well,” Icasiano shares.

These include style guides and other material that will appear on the platform’s website and social media pages.

Effectively, this will help people avoid the mistakes the founders made when they got started in menswear. They jokingly refer to this as “tuition,” or the price one pays for learning the ropes.

For starters, the group advised choosing a look that’s suitable and then sticking with it.

Must-haves include clothes that see a lot of daily use rather than worn for only special occasions such as casual jackets, trousers in textured fabrics, a pair of suede loafers in a neutral color, and three shirts in different patterns or colors.

“The nice thing about classic menswear is that it never really gets outdated, so you won’t have to get rid of anything and your wardrobe just grows over time. And with tailored garments, there’s always room to adjust the size. So your wardrobe adjusts to you and not the other way around,” Icasiano concludes.

Photos by PAT MATEO courtesy of Hardly Ever Found

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