When you can easily subscribe to a monthly helping of carnivorous plants and AstroTurf-style pads for your dog to pee on (neither of these are jokes), you know that the subscription box market has hit peak saturation. If you're subscribed to as many boxes as you are streaming services, you're not alone. The McKinsey consultancy estimated the market size of e-commerce subscriptions at about $10 billion in 2017.
You know the big ones – your Dollar Shave Clubs, your Loot Crates and Stitch Fixes – and you can hardly get away from online algorithms trying to sell you "guy stuff" like whiskey, cigars and weird knives. Let's unbox some less-obvious options for men who are more than just an algorithm.
1. Driftaway Coffee
While lots of subscription boxes seek to surprise you with unexpected swag like a USB drive shaped like a Pokémon or a carrot peeler that you'll only use once, Driftaway Coffee's laser focus on good coffee sets it apart, as do its personalization options. You start with a tasting kit of four different beans that match various flavor profiles and then use the site or the Driftaway app to rate them. The more you sip, the better Driftaway learns your tastes and caters to them. Plus, the app keeps track of your favorite (and least favorite) coffees.
Not only will this box up your coffee game, but all the freshly roasted beans include origin stories about the coffee farmers, and Driftaway donates 5 cents of every pound purchased to long-term coffee sustainability research. Plus, prices average about 70 cents a cup, which is way better than that $4 latte to go.
The goods: about $16 to $17 per box, delivered monthly or bimonthly.
2. Comma Vintage
Style boxes are a key subscription food group, but nobody does it quite like Comma Vintage. Like many menswear boxes, this one is curated to your tastes. Unlike the others, each box contains one or two authentic, hand-picked vintage pieces from old-school American brands like Levi's, Pendleton, L.L. Bean and more, as well as two or three accessories or "artifacts."
While there's nothing wrong with the classic J. Crew-style boxes like Stitch Fix or Bombfell roll with, Comma's smaller staff and selection of items that are no longer being manufactured anywhere in the world makes every order particularly bespoke, and you even get a personalized note with each box. With this one, you definitely won't be running into anyone wearing the same shirt at work.
The goods: about $35 per box, delivered quarterly.
While you may get ads for beef jerky subscription boxes, GlobeIn's primary focus on marketing to women makes it easy for men to miss – but don't sleep on this one. Most of GlobeIn's products aren't gendered, and they often focus on items that many guys don't think to shop for, like kitchen accessories, small decorations or baskets and totes. You can even customize your subs with themes such as "chef," "accent" or "adventure."
Even better, those products are just about uniformly gorgeous, easily adding pops of color and craft to your living space and making for distinct conversation pieces without having to make a trip to World Market. Even better than that, every item in GlobeIn's boxes is handmade by one of 10,000 artisans from over 50 countries, so your purchase encourages fair trade and helps generate more than 1 million work hours for artists each year.
The goods: $10 to $40 per box, delivered monthly.
4. Vinyl Moon
Billed as "the most unique vinyl experience in the galaxy," this monthly record subscription presses an exclusive playlist of new indie tracks – everything from rock to electronica – on beautiful, custom-colored, limited-edition vinyl, all wrapped in absolutely mind-melting and often interactive artwork. Think of it as a subscription to both art and music that just so happens to come with 15 percent off all purchases from Vinyl Moon's online store.
Do you miss the mix tape? If so, Vinyl Moon is here to fill that very specific void. If you've ever experienced the feeling of a certain playlist or album taking you back to a pinpoint moment in time, consider Vinyl Moon to be a monthly soundtrack for your life (and one that's a lot more tactile than a transient Spotify playlist).
The goods: $30 per box, delivered monthly.
5. Culture Carton
OK, so we had to include at least one catch-all box, and Culture Carton is the one. That Christmas-morning feeling of surprise and expectation is something that makes these crates special – it's the element that has inspired legions of YouTube unboxers for a reason.
Culture Carton nails that "it's your birthday every month" vibe with items that are geared toward men without veering into cliche territory. Every month includes one book and – depending on your subscription level – a few lifestyle items like Fello Eyewear sunglasses, manicure set, travel shoe bag, pocket square, notebooks, earbuds or even snacks. For something that comes in a box, that's a pretty well-rounded lineup.
The goods: $16 to $45, delivered monthly.
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