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From Pop-Ups to Catalogs: E-Comm Brands Investing In The Tangible

October 6, 2014

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about how brands are continuing to invest or reinvest in the catalog portion of their business because of the correlating uptick in sales (as has the Wall Street Journal): Restoration Hardware (with a whopping 13 volume mailing), Bonobos, J. Crew.​

The move runs almost parallel to the trend of businesses that launched exclusively via e-commerce turning to pop-ups, fit shops, or true brick-and-mortar locations to continue to grow their brands (e.g. Everlane, Birch Box, Bauble Bar, Ayr).

The common thread? We’re human, and we like to hold things in our hands (be it a catalog or product). Especially it seems, if it’s something of quality that we want to purchase. It’s just one part of the whole of an effective brand experience.​

I came across a great example the other day. Enter Best Made, founded in 2009 with a single mission: make a high quality artisanal axe in Maine, paint it in NYC, sell online. They’ve since expanded into other outdoors-oriented products as well as launched a brick-and-mortar store in Tribeca, but stayed true to their original mission of delivering top-notch quality to men who want the tools and clothing necessary to connect to the outdoors (or at least display the appropriate accouterment in their homes). For a really visceral portrait of the in-store experience, I’ll direct you to a NYT article that could also be described as a city dweller’s love letter to the trappings of “getting back to the land.”

I was passed the latest Best Made catalog the other day by a colleague. As I felt the smooth, matte paper and the weight of the book I knew there was something wonderful inside. Beautiful images of the team and people they cross paths with exploring the outdoors (while testing product) flood pages, paired with short stories about various excursions and product origin.​


Straight from the catalogue, “This jacket is as much at home in the backwoods as it is on Broadway; it’s a timeless number that checks all the right boxes: American-made waxed cotton, English moleskin collar…”

It’s a full exploration of all that the Best Made brand means, and it’s the perfect format to let you really hunker down and enjoy. Then of course, you can stop into the Tribeca store, check out their website (or both), and finally purchase that axe you’ll definitely use on that trip to Alaska you’ve been planning for the last five years…​

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