It may or may not surprise you to learn that I am the type of person who sees a Kickstarter for sheets with silver threading and then immediately backs it even though I didn’t actually have a mattress at the time. When the same company made a Kickstarter for silver towels a few years later, I was all up on too. You see, silver is naturally anti-microbial and anti-odor, and I both hate doing laundry and live in an apartment building that doesn’t have a washing machine in the first place.
So I like to buy things that have silver in them, even if they cost a little bit more.
A few years ago, I made a clothing change that few people would ever notice: I stopped wearing boxers. But a girl I met on tinder told me they looked bad on me and so I immediately threw away every single pair, because at that point in my life that seemed like a rational reaction to such criticism.
Being not even vaguely confident enough for briefs proper, I decided to go for that nice middle ground. This was the heyday of MeUndies sponsoring every single podcast that I listened to, so I figured it was time to give some internet underwear a shot. The pairs I ordered were both too small and, much to my chagrin, did not have a fly. My first day wearing them, I got, uh, caught in my zipper and yelped in pain in my literally at-capacity office bathroom. I was so mortified that I never wore them again. I got some generic ones at Macy’s and went on with my life.
A few months later, at the Wirecutter’s recommendation, I got a few pairs of Uniqlo Airisms. And I liked them immediately. For a year or so, that was enough.
But then I started getting daily Facebook ads for Mack Weldon’s Vesper Polo. I had heard of the company because they advertised on The Flop House podcast, which was the only one that went with them instead of MeUndies. And I really did like the way that Polo looked, inspired as it was by James Bond. So I checked out their website.
And lo and behold: Silver.
This was last May.
Mack Weldon has a loyalty program called Weldon Blue. You don’t have to sign up for a credit card or give up the contents of your genetic code; you just need to buy things. After your first order, you are instantly a part of level one: free shipping on any order, rather than just those over $50. You also get 10% off orders above $100.
If you spend over $200 within a year, you get upgraded to Level 2, giving you a 20% discount on all others as well as some other things that are less meaningful.
I like this. I also realize that I’m getting played.
Because this means that everything that Mack Weldon sells has a 20% markup on top of the typical retail markup, because their business model must be built to be sustainable even if every customer were Weldon Blue Level Two.
To go deeper into the cynicism, there’s a psychological factor to discounts. The famous JC Penny experiment where the company stopped lying about everything being on sale and instead posting the “sale” price as the real price was a total failure. Shoppers didn’t care about the actual price of the item; it was the relationship between that price and the arbitrarily higher number posted beside it People love to feel like they’re getting a deal.
Let’s be real, Mack Weldon products aren’t cheap, and hitting that initial $200 benchmark isn’t hard. I did it on literally my first order. Hell, even with my discount, those two pairs of boxer briefs still cost $54. And sure, there’s literal silver in them – the non-silver options, which I also have a few pairs of – are quite a bit cheaper, but… you can get two pairs of Uniqlo Airisms for less than the cheapest Mack Weldon underwear, and that’s after a discount. But I’m at the point in my life where I’m okay spending a bit more than I historically would have when something is higher quality.
I mean, the old adage is that you get what you pay for, and it is true – up to a point. Expensive things typically cost more to make. Of course, it’s a question of proportion. For example, my colleague’s wife worked for a high-end swimwear company, the kind that charges literally hundreds of dollars for a bathing suit. And their swimsuits were objectively higher quality than your typical one, costing several times as much to make. Except we’re actually talking about a total cost of around $18 as opposed to, like, $2. It’s a better product but a markup that is out of reach for most people. Certainly including myself.
I wouldn’t spend several hundred dollars on a bathing suit, regardless of the wholesale cost… but I did spend $70ish twice on pairs from Mack Weldon for my trip to Mexico, and I don’t regret having done so. They’re great. The best bathing suits I own. They fit well, which is pretty important for clothing, and I think look good too.
But I also wouldn’t have spent the $90ish per suit that they cost without my 20% discount. And seeing the number in the cart all crossed out with what I viewed as an ultimtely more reasonable below made me feel better about what was still a fairly big expense on something I don’t use all that much. And there’s a pressure to keep spending money there to stay in that Level Two tier, because I want to keep getting those discounts because I really don’t have any desire to pay the “actual” prices.
But, it’s also not like I’m not getting some really great clothing out of the whole thing. I have been impressed by the quality of every piece of Mack Weldon clothing I own. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t keep buying new ones. I would end up wearing something of theirs almost every single day.
And that really speaks to my appreciation of the brand more than any of the words you have just heard or could hear. Tbh, this could have been like 85 words long. But I just really, really like typing.
Eight Point Four out of Ten