It’s a fact: browsing the Internet for gifts to buy for your best mate can be an exercise in frustration. We wish the Internet came with guideposts, but all too often Google throws up way too many options and distractions. Alas, one site is doing much to make browsing more guy-friendly and less pained: Essential Man. And the site, conceived as an online gift registry with the look of Pinterest and sleek aesthetic of Gilt, is now looking like a possible game-changer in the business of men’s retailing online.
For one, there are several things that Essential Man gets right: one, the visual interface. Guys are visual creatures so we’re naturally drawn to objects on the screen, and at a time when guys are starting to spend more time on their Instagram accounts than on Facebook, Essential Man looks pleasantly familiar and surfable; two, customer service and discovery. For all the folks who go online knowing precisely what to buy, there are scores that have absolutely no clue what to buy or where even to begin.
That’s where Essential Man trumps other sites. Its GiftGenius customizable search engine allows shoppers to determine where they sit on a sliding scale of traits, ranging from “Night Owl” to “Early Bird,” “Dapper” to “Casual,” “Creative” to “Practical,” “Jetsetter” to “Homebody,” “Foodie” to “Fast Foodie,” and, of course, price. Adjusting the bar on each scale automatically tweaks and refreshes the merchandise on the page, so there are even fewer buttons to click. All you do from there is scroll down and click through to the object that piques your interest—and there are many, we should add.
Founder Jason Landver, who has quietly been growing a small but powerful licensing empire on the West Coast with clients such as Rachel Zoe, Wildfox Couture and Giles & Brother, has one of the best eyes in the business, so we weren’t surprised to learn that Essential Man comes stocked with some of the best-looking modern gadgets, fashion accessories, travel necessities, grooming products, collectible antiques, fine wines and even meats. About a month ago when we first previewed the site, we even spied gift certificates to sporting and culinary experiences. With a range of products from Cartier to Smith & Wesson to Leica and a mobile version of Essential Man underway, we could think of worse ways to spend your lunch break or time on the couch.