Birchbox Man Q&A: Dwight Fenton, Bonobos VP of Design

With 15 years in the apparel game, including time at J. Crew, Todd Snyder, Patagonia, and the Gap, Dwight Fenton took on the role of Design VP at Bonobos with a wealth of experience and knowledge of men’s preferences, fit, and style. Here he gives us his expert take on trends, pocket squares, and Bonobos’ signature pocket liners.

BBMan: Bonobos has led the charge on a renewed focus on "fit." Are guys coming around?

Fenton: The fit in menswear got slim and trim quickly and the evolution has been great to watch. When “slim fit” first hit the concern was that guys wouldn't want to try anything with the word "slim" in the name. We've just introduced our tailored slim in response to our very vocal fans wanting to trim it up even further. So yes, guys are definitely coming around.

BBMan: Since joining the Bonobos team, what has surprised you about male shopping and dressing habits?

Fenton: I'm frequently very impressed, but seldom surprised by the shopping and dressing habits of our guys. One important thing that has been reinforced here is that fashion and style are businesses of perspective and preference—not right and wrong. That's all you have to differentiate yourself from your competitors, so sticking with your gut and experience is key.

BBMan: Where do you get inspiration for Bonobos’ pants pocket lining?

Fenton: It's an inadvertent metaphor for our brand: strong individual style without taking it all too seriously. The inspiration is taken from the rest of the collection, so the pocket liners will reflect both the mood and colors of that particular season. It's as close as we come to branding any of our clothes, so it's become a trademark of sorts.

BBMan: To what extent should men care about trends?

Fenton: While the rules are changing quickly, it's generally much safer to use guidelines to keep things from getting out of hand, and trends are often the biggest reason guys get it wrong. Just because you thought something looked cool on Jack White doesn't mean it's going to do the same for you. Looking overwrought is the worst thing a guy can do. One trend per outfit should be more than enough.

BBMan: We talk a lot about pocket squares at Birchbox Man, in large part because as a style upgrade, it's so easy. What's your approach?

Fenton: I think keeping it simple here is best. I'm more of a fan of the flat fold (aka the James Bond) than the advanced versions like “The Puff,” “The Peacock,” or “The 4 Peak” (look 'em up). That being said, done well, in the right balance with the rest of what you're wearing, they're a great way to add a little personality in the mix. So if you're feeling advanced, by all means go for it. My go-to is a faded-blue bandana, flat folded in my navy blazer. It works with all levels of dress and keeps it from feeling stuffy (a common result of pocket square misuse).

Learn more about the exclusive Birchbox+Bonobos box collaboration in the September Sneak Peek video, and sign up to get the box here. For plenty of pocket square folding tips, head here, here, and here.

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