Interview: Bradley Bennett of Well Spent
By Geoffrey Brown
OUT: What is so special about your site?
Bradley Bennett: Well Spent is for guys who take their ethics as seriously as their style. The site features an array of reasonably-priced, on-trend men's clothing and accessories—all of which are made in the U.S. or similar First World conditions.
What does your site offer that no other site does?
In order for an item to be written about on Well Spent, it must be responsibly made (sweatshop-free, or from sustainable materials), it has to look good, and it has to be affordable (relatively speaking). If a product doesn't meet all three criteria, I won't post it.
What should every man have in his closet?
Keep it simple, keep it classic. Oxford cloth button-downs (one blue, one white, one pink), plain white tees, slim-fit raw denim (no branding, no embellishments, no flaps on the pockets), khakis (hemmed or cuffed at mid-ankle), a pair of brown loafers (preferably penny), a pair of brown wing-tips, a pair of low-top white sneakers (the less branding, the better), a well worn jean jacket and a navy blue soft shouldered blazer. Stick to those, in any combination, and you'll always look good.
What are some of the things in your closet that you cannot live without?
Selvedge jeans from Left Field NYC, slim chinos from Unis, crew neck sweatshirts from Archival Clothing, button-downs from Gitman Vintage and Brooks Brothers, winter boots from L.L.Bean and Alden, and organic canvas sneakers from Autonomie Project. Also, my 12-year-old Tag Heuer watch, my custom Stanley & Sons bag, my Cause & Effect belt, and my Corter wallet.
How did Well Spent start?
Actually, my girlfriend encouraged me to start it. I've always put a tremendous amount of research into every purchase I make. Partly because I want to be sure that what I'm buying is well-made and will last a long time and partly because I don't want to give my money to companies whose politics or policies I disagree with. Seeing how much effort I put into doing that research, my girlfriend told me I should make my findings public, in case there were others who were seeking the same info. And so, Well Spent was born.
What is the inspiration behind the website?
I've always preferred the product blog format over the personal or style blog format: picture, brief description, link-to-buy, done. I try to refrain from over-editorializing, or getting too self-referential. The site's supposed to be about the items featured, not me. At the same time, I also try to keep it fairly light and humorous. They're just clothes after all.
What is the story behind the section "Instead of Rent"?
A lot of my time is spent browsing the Internet, looking for new products to write to about. Inevitably, I always wind up with a list of things I want for myself. Instead of Rent collects whatever's topping my list that month; the things I'd rather spend my money on than rent or utilities. The title's purposely tongue-in-cheek, a self-deprecating assessment of my priorities.
You have an "ethical/eco" spot on your website. How does this pertain to your personal life?
The same criteria I apply to what gets featured on the site, I apply to my own purchases. If I won't blog it, I won't buy it, and vice versa. I guess I'm pretty granola in a lot of other ways, too. I try to only eat organic foods, preferably local. I'm an active recycler. I bike instead of drive. I have composting worms...the list goes one. All that said, I do my best not to rub my lifestyle in anyone's face. I think "greens" have a reputation for being self-righteous and didactic, because, well, a lot of the time they are, and I don't ever want to be seen as that, in life or on the site.
When it comes to suits, what advice do you have for men?
Make sure the jacket fits in the shoulders, everything else can be tailored. Make sure you get your pants hemmed: no break to slight break is preferable. If the event isn't fancy, or a funeral, don't wear black. If you haven't already, take the damn label off your sleeve. Never button the bottom button on your jacket. Always tuck in your shirt. And cool it with the super skinny lapels, they just look silly.
What are some ways that men can update their wardrobe every season without breaking the bank?
I'd recommend dividing your shopping into two categories: staples and seasonal. At the top of each season, allow yourself two or three staple purchases (new button-down shirt, new pants, new jacket—things you can return to year after year), and then a handful of smaller, more trend-based seasonal buys (a camo pocket square, or brightly colored socks, for example). Eventually, after several seasons of slowly accruing staple pieces, you'll have enough that you won't need anymore, and then you'll only have to worry about the less expensive seasonal buys, which you can use to make your staples feel fresh again.
For more information on Well Spent, click here.