Cigar Boxes and Shoe Care

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If you’ve been keeping score, (and really I don’t know why you would be), it’s been about nine months since I’ve written about anything that was sent to me for free. The last product I decided to accept from a brand denigrated in a matter of days (after I had written a positive review no less) so since then I’ve turned down almost every offer that’s come across my desk. I try my hardest to adhere to the belief that if it’s worth writing about it, I’ll find it on my own. But a couple weeks ago, I received an email from Bespoke Post (a name that I’m not particularly keen on), a startup monthly subscription box service based around menswear, that had me curious enough to write back and have them send over a trial box.

Who would’ve ever thought that the first gift from a brand that I would actually write about would be shoe care supplies shipped in a cigar box.  Come to think of it, who would actually think that a company would ever market a cigar box full of shoe supplies.  After reading that initial email I was skeptical – the name, the idea, the fact that I was taking something for free, it all had my less than excited to receive such a box.  Yet, after I actually held that box in my hands, well I was even more skeptical thanks to the glossy packaging and block letters reading “#BoxOfAwesome” that were emblazoned on the side. Not to mention the fact that the box came with a name: “Polished,” a word the seems like an appropriately slick descriptor for the Bespoke Post branding as a whole.

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Although, as I tepidly opened up that bigger cardboard box from Bespoke Post, (once again I really do not enjoy this name) and saw what was inside, I could feel a smirk creep across my face.  While I was expecting a few loose polishes and maybe a brush or two, all I discovered was a cigar box. It’s the sort of idea that in my eyes doesn’t work at all in theory.  If you came to me and pitched a grand business plan to package a shoe care kit in a cigar box, with that sweet aroma of cigars still swirling around no less, I would instantly written your grand idea off as an overt act of pandering to some invisible masculine audience.

I don’t know of anyone (well aside from those guys at the Armoury who are just living the dream) spends their nights sitting around a fire, sipping a whiskey far older than I am, burning down Cuban cigars, and polishing their captoes till they could see their ancient madder ties in the reflection. Yet, in this case, I’d say it’s like watching the Super Bowl with a case of bud next to you.  Of course it’s a cliche, but there’s something in my hardwiring (primitive to say, I know) that just makes me fall for it.  And, it certainly doesn’t make the smirk on my face any less real.

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No one ever writes a post on a box alone though, (well unless it’s about a Goyard trunk, I could probably make an exception for one of those), so I’m happy to report that my grin didn’t dissipate as I thumbed my way through a treasure trove of Saphir products.  In the shoe care world, Saphir is a brand that needs little introduction, a French company that makes some of the finest polishes (of which I received two), brushes (of which I received three) and accessories (two shoe bags and a shammy were included as well) in the world. They also produce the item I was most excited to see in the box: Renovateur, a conditioner that I consider to be a “miracle ointment” of sorts for your shoes. I’m sure some middle-aged upper-management types on StyleForum would find fault with the spread but before my eyes was a smattering of enough shoe care supplies to last any novice shoe aficionado like myself at least a year or two.

With that said, while the box that I received now has, and will continue to have it’s own spot next to my shoes for the foreseeable future, my verdict on Bespoke Post reads much like my aforementioned opinion on free stuff in general.  If it was worth knowing about I would have found it on my own. To all of you reading this, you’re already probably interested in menswear enough to place yourself out of Bespoke Post’s target audience, yet it might work great as a gift to the cousin who just needs an extra nudge to dress better. The general thread of being a “box of awesome” for men might’ve worked for me this time, but I’m not sure the gimmick will be a success on a month-to-month basis and so I’m a bit apprehensive to say that it will be worth the money (forty-five dollars per box, with the option to skip a box if you aren’t interested that month’s theme) each month. As for me, down the line, I plan to get my Saphir elsewhere, and bring along my own cigar box.

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