Is the Italic Black membership worth it? We’ll be giving our first impressions of the men’s clothing in this Italic review and comparing it to other brands.
Behind the exorbitant price tags attached to luxury clothing items, there is always a long and mysterious trail of middlemen.
If you ask Jeremy Cai, CEO and founder of Italic, this arcane process just isn’t necessary in today’s hyper-connected world — and Italic’s line of markup-free, no logo clothing is hard evidence to that fact.
We’re taking an Italic membership for a spin, putting it to the test against other minimalist luxury brands to see how it stacks up against other brandless clothes available on the market today.
Whether your entire style revolves around minimalist men’s clothing or you’re just looking for the best quality men’s basics, Italic is worth checking out — and we’ll show you exactly why as we review some of these pieces (with photos, of course).
How Italic Does It: Making And Selling Affordable, Luxurious Men’s Clothing At Cost
Having been raised on the advice of “if it sounds too good to be true, it probably is”, Italic’s promise of offering a true direct-to-consumer clothing line left us admittedly suspicious.
Upon further inspection, Italic might be the only minimalist men’s clothing brand whose business model actually supports the production and distribution of top-notch quality, brandless clothing.
In summarizing their process for providing luxury clothing at affordable prices, Italic’s founder Cai says it best:
“Members are granted access to Italic’s full range of high-end products, made by the same factories that make your favorite pieces, but sold at cost. That means that you’ll only pay for the product itself and any fulfillment fees (like packaging, warehousing, and shipping).”Jeremy Cai, founder of Italic
Italic breaks away from the mainstream necessity to brand, market, and push sales for the products that are designed by other clothing companies.
Instead, they work as a marketplace for clothing that is designed and produced entirely by the same factories that make luxury brands like Armani, Alexander Wang, and Hugo Boss.
At the time of writing this article, essential men’s clothing items from each of those companies could be found for less than $50 each — with performance tees priced at $25 or less.
To access their marketplace, Italic charges a $100 per year membership fee. This guarantees you a rotating selection of high-quality clothing, bags, shoes, and accessories. Not to mention, a separate section for curated home goods.
Being a men’s style site, we’re focusing on the men’s clothing options. In the sections that follow, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at exactly who Italic is a great choice for, by comparing quality and prices across a variety of similar logoless clothing brands.
Italic Clothing Review: Initial Thoughts / First Impressions
Did you know that the manufacturers of most clothing brands end up earning less than 5% on the final sale of their handiwork?
It’s true. Because the brand names end up shouldering most of the risk of production and advertising, they end up making their money not on the overall quality of their products, but on their ability to create a desire for them in the market.
This revelation was our initial reason for getting excited about Italic — a company whose mission is focused around the quality of the clothing products they represent, rather than the impression left by their branding.
For men who are more concerned with the craftsmanship, comfort, and durability of their clothes and accessories than the social cred that comes with a flashy logo, Italic will provide you with a solid stable of essential items to choose from.
It’s one thing to talk about quality, though, and something else entirely to experience it first-hand.
My experience with and first impressions of Italic men’s clothing
I spent a bit of time wearing each piece and wanted to give you my first impressions of each. Of course, a long-term review would be valuable as well, and I’ll be sure to update this post down the road.
While this is just a small sampling of what they offer, my thought is that if Italic can nail it with these clothing items, anything more basic would be a breeze.
First off, the cashmere crewneck sweater
Italic’s cashmere sweaters use 100% Grade A Mongolian cashmere. This is like the Rolls Royce of cashmere.
Grade A is the highest possible quality, the longest and thinnest fibers collected from cashmere goats. The thinner and longer the hair, the softer and more durable the knit will be, which means less pilling over the life of the garment. It’s the perfect layering piece and incredibly soft to the touch.
The sweater’s fit is more relaxed and in my experience, true to size. (I went with a large because I was worried it may be too slim. In hindsight, I could’ve gotten a medium, which is what I usually wear.)
Italic has four main colors for their cashmere sweaters: black, heather grey, navy, and surplus green. These are what I call menswear neutrals, making them incredibly easy to pair with anything else in your wardrobe.
At $65, the Italic cashmere crewneck is an incredible deal. Compare this to the J.Crew Everyday cashmere crewneck at $118 retail, which, I’m fairly certain, doesn’t use the same caliber of cashmere in their sweaters. I’ve had a number of cashmere sweaters from J.Crew over the years, and they pill like crazy after just a few wears.
Next up, the Marco baseball leather jacket
Is it a baseball jacket? A bomber? Let’s go with bomber. It’s a sophisticated, understated, luxe take on a military bomber jacket.
The first thing you’ll notice is the ridiculously soft lambskin leather. It’s substantial, but won’t weigh you down. It’s also smooth and supple, no uncomfortable break-in period needed, like a tough leather biker jacket usually requires.
The ribbed hem, cuffs, and collar are soft, not crunchy, scratchy, or stiff, which is what I typically experience with cheap bomber or varsity jackets.
At the front, you’ll find a snap button closure, which is where the varsity jacket vibes really come into play. I like the snaps; I feel it goes well with the jacket’s styling and allows you to easily wear it with only a few buttons fastened.
"Crafted from buttery smooth, supple lambskin leather, the Marco is our take on a classic style updated with modern flourish. Finished with ribbed cuffs around the waist, sleeves, and neckline, it's the ultimate layering piece that's both sporty and sophisticated."
The price on this one is a bit ridiculous, in a good way: $250. On the product page, Italic compares it to similar jackets from high-end brands like Theory and Vince, which sell theirs for $995.
This is not some inflated pricing, either. I’ve seen outerwear from both brands and they definitely can reach, if not exceed, the 4-figure mark.
Time will tell, of course, but I’ve had the privilege of checking out many, many clothing items in my 11 years of running Effortless Gent, and this leather jacket is easily the nicest quality at this price point.
How Does Italic Compare to Other Minimalist Clothing Brands?
While it may be the most unique take on direct-to-consumer clothing, Italic is far from being the first minimalist clothing brand to hit the scene.
Let’s take a closer look at how Italic’s prices, clothing, and business model stack up against the most well-known minimalist men’s clothing brands out there.
Italic Vs Uniqlo
Best known for their incredibly wide range of apparel options, Uniqlo is a Tokyo-based company with locations in nearly every major country.
A shortened form of the phrase “Unique Clothing”, Uniqlo has been offering unisex casual wear since their inception in 1984.
Though their products might look similar at first glance, Uniqlo and Italic have little more in common than their unbranded lines of essential clothing items. If you’re looking for luxury essentials that are built to last, Italic is a much better choice.
Don’t get us wrong: We’ve happily sported Uniqlo’s tees and tank tops as part of our wardrobe for the past few years, but their entire clothing line is very limited to casual wear.
For a small initial investment and slight price bump per item (about $5 more for a t-
Italic Vs Everlane
Founded with the mission of selling clothing with “transparent pricing”, Everlane was one of the first US clothing retailers to introduce the idea of direct-to-consumer online menswear sales. Headquartered in San Francisco, they also have stores in New York, Boston, Los Angeles, and Palo Alto.
Of all the online clothing retailers available today, Everlane is the most similar to Italic.
Indeed, this may be due in large part to Everlane’s founder Michael Preysman being heralded in 2015 as “reinventing retail and e-commerce” — a claim that Italic is giving direct competition to.
Stylistically, the two companies offer similar fits across their entire wardrobe, with Everlane having a slight advantage on variety thanks to its more senior position in the market.
Indeed, their essential clothing items are offered at nearly identical prices as well, with tees offered in a range from $20 to $30.
Whereas both companies give fully transparent listings of the factories that produce their clothing, though, only Italic can lay claim to the same manufacturers as many luxury brands.
In our opinion, this gives Italic a distinct win in the quality category, though Everlane wins out on a variety of options.
Italic Vs Muji
A Japanese retail company founded in 1980, Muji places an emphasis on recycling and reducing excess packaging for an exceptionally wide variety of household wares and clothing items.
Lauded for their “no-frills” design philosophy, Muji’s simple aesthetic also comes with a caveat: They do not disclose the names or locations of any of their designers or manufacturers.
Looking at Muji and Italic’s online stores side-by-side, you’ll notice immediately that their commitment to unbranded items is about all these companies have in common.
Italic specializes in a small selection of luxury goods from desirable, identifiable sources.
In comparison, Muji offers an enormous selection of everything from stationery and snacks to kitchen equipment and clothing, all without details of their manufacturing.
Surprisingly, the prices for essential clothing items between Italic and Muji aren’t that much different, with both retailers offering value-priced tees around $15 and more luxurious tops closer to $30.
In short, if you’re looking for a one-stop-shop for household goods and clothing, Muji is your best bet — but if you’re looking to make an investment in long-term quality for your wardrobe, Italic is the way to go.
Italic Vs Asket
The only Swedish brand to make our comparison list, Asket literally translates as “ascetic” — a sort of minimalism on steroids, often reserved to describe the most self-disciplined abstention practiced in religious pursuits.
The company seeks to produce “meaningful essentials: A permanent collection of zero-compromise pieces”, using a nearly identical model of unbranded direct-to-consumer clothing as Italic.
Where Asket and Italic differ most is in their pricing model and traceability. Instead of asking for a yearly membership fee, Asket’s clothing items are noticeably more expensive than Italic’s.
A standard Asket tee priced at $45. This is compared to Italic’s $15-25. With that added price, however, comes an impressive dedication to complete transparency in Asket’s production processes.
Notably, their products are given a “traceability rating” that reflects how much of the farm to wardrobe process they can verify.
Of all the unbranded clothing options that we’ve compared alongside Italic, Asket offers the most impressive quality — albeit at a significantly higher price that increases exponentially if you’re looking to revamp your whole wardrobe.
Is an Italic Membership Worth It? Clothing Cost Comparison
After comparing the quality and provenance of Italic’s clothing items to the other big-name providers available today, we’re absolutely convinced of their durability and value.
But can their luxury quality justify the $100 cost for a yearly membership? Well, that’s mostly going to depend on exactly what you’re hoping to achieve for your wardrobe.
Perhaps most importantly, Italic offers a rotating selection of seasonally appropriate items in addition to their year-round staples.
If you’re in the process of building a minimalist wardrobe, that means you won’t have to lay down a bundle of cash all at once to do it.
Instead, committing to an Italic membership makes it reasonable to set aside a monthly or seasonal wardrobe budget, knowing that you’ll get the most out of your investment.
Really, that’s our biggest takeaway from testing out an Italic membership.
If you’re planning on using their clothing to freshen up your entire wardrobe, or already have a budget for clothing built into your monthly costs, the yearly cost is quickly justified by impressive per-garment savings.
We encourage anyone considering Italic to take some extra time, plan out their likely clothing needs for at least the next two seasons, and decide whether it’s worth making that initial investment in.
Final Thoughts on Italic’s Brandless Clothes
All said and done, Italic left us incredibly impressed with the quality, cut, and versatility of their clothing essentials.
Of all the minimalist brands we’ve included in our outfits, Italic’s definitely stand out based on their uncompromising dedication to craftsmanship and impressive origins, all while maintaining the minimalist aesthetic we’re cultivating these days.
For any man looking to push his wardrobe in the direction of a sleek and austere style, it’s definitely worth investing in.