Today, you decide to switch up the routine. You order a strawberry cocktail instead of a beer. Maybe you sign up for dance lessons. How does it feel?

Maybe a little uncomfortable. You might want things to go back to the way they were. Beer is great, and dancing is scary.

But the drink is delicious, and you go to sleep giddy from braving the dance floor. Usually, you would have asked yourself, why would I do that? Today, you said, why the f#*k not?

When we break from the norm, we set ourselves up to experience joy.

My name is Finn. I started Commodore Scott to create joy through unconventionally colorful menswear.

Every two weeks, I'll write a newsletter where you can follow my progress. Expect gripping tales of factory visits in foreign lands, Succession-esque business feuds, and a look at what it's like to start a clothing company.

This is the first one: The Color Story. I hope you enjoy.

Biking Gloves

In second grade, I begged my mom for a pair of pale pink biking gloves sitting in a basket in the mall. Although I barely knew how to ride, she obliged, and the gloves made me happy. On my bike, which I cautiously propelled by walking my legs along the pavement, I felt like a race car driver. Soon, I decided that my favorite color was pink.

I hoped for more pink stuff — maybe I could find pink shoes or a pink jacket. But when I shared my favorite color at school, I was surprised when my friends told me that pink was a girly color.

But I'm a boy. I like this color. So this color is also for boys. Right?

People didn't seem to agree, but a decade later, I saw signs of hope. Harry Styles wore dresses. Football players wore cropped t-shirts at pregame warm ups. Maybe clothing was finally liberated!

I scoured the market, only to get flooded with targeted ads for salmon-colored polos and pink Oxford shirts. With the exception of a few expensive designer brands, a few streetwear collections and a horde of fast-fashion copycats, quality colorful clothing was hard to find.

History helped me understand why.

Color hasn't always been feminine, but it's often been exclusive. In 17th century Europe, men didn't just want to be seen as wealthy. Like the male peacock, they also also wanted to be beautiful. 

Aristocratic men bought bright, luxurious garments. They wore wigs and high heels. Their clothes were made in vibrant colors using expensive pigments, so the brighter and more extravagant a man's display, the better his bid for a mate. Again — peacocks.

While color doesn't carry the nobility it once did, wealthy people still own the market. Today, the most colorful menswear — golf clothing, yachting gear, beachwear and etc. — is marketed towards affluent people with time for leisure.

Sadly, the French Revolution scared aristocrats into humility (boo!) and men wanted to be seen as useful, not beautiful. This mindset favored darker earthy tones, so bright colors became acceptable for ladies only, thus creating the color gap. As men, color had been exclusive — it was now largely forbidden. 

This standard persisted in the West until the 1960s, when three decades of awesome music, counterculture, and a lot of LSD convinced young people that color was cool again. Celebs like David Bowie and Prince tried every color available, proving that men could embrace feminine garb without losing sex appeal. 

Sadly, most people saw this wave of fashion as drug-laced homosexual hullabaloo. Instead of normalizing colorful clothing, vibrant menswear got yet another negative connotation–not just feminine, but also queer. 

Photo: Getty Images

Today, the past weighs heavily on modern fashion. Men aren’t taught to pay attention to how they dress, so many of us never learn that a good outfit can be a serious confidence booster. Brands sell us the same bland colors, reinforcing the norm that we shouldn't derive uniqueness from our clothing.

The Science of Belonging

"You guys like me, right?" Mac, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia

When I considered starting a colorful menswear line, I talked to friends and entrepreneurs about the idea. In mini-pitch sessions, I mentioned that young men on Tik Tok had been posting videos shopping in the women's section at clothing stores, specifically looking for brighter colors.

I claimed that men have no way to stand out, and the fact that these men were willing to brave the women's section in search of something unique was proof. One friend countered: "But if men can just buy women's clothing, why do you need to make colorful menswear?"

It was a good question. There's no better way to stand out than to wear women's clothing. So what problem would my clothing solve?

Well, there's the shape — women's clothes don't fit right — but there’s something else. Psychologist Marilyn Brewer was one of the first to point out that while people do indeed want to feel unique, we also need to feel like we belong. We need to fit in; we need to feel understood; we need to be a part of something bigger than ourselves.

This quirk of human behavior — the simultaneous need to feel unique and to belong — is called Optimal Distinctiveness, and it might explain why men’s clothing has remained so colorless.

When I wear women's clothing, I feel like an outlier; I certainly feel unique, but I also feel alone. The same is true for colorful clothing, even if it's designed for men. Advertisements, retailers, movies, fashion in general — all communicate that men pretty much wear the same muted tones; anything else is anomalous.

To wear beautiful colors, men don't just have to look really hard, they have to overcome that feeling of otherness. It’s no surprise that “girly” colors don’t sell.

I decided to start making clothes to solve that problem.

It was going well. Then I almost quit.

First, I made a small collection of colorful clothing. I had almost no budget, so I ordered a batch of high-quality blank tee shirts and hoodies at the best price I could find, from a factory in China. I spent the next three months in my basement dyeing, altering, and printing every garment by hand.

The clothes were well made and sold pretty well; about half my inventory in just 2 hours. Still, I felt weird about the whole thing. The working conditions at the factory were a mystery and I was shocked by how much water waste and fabric scraps I had produced. I wondered, is all fashion so wasteful?

I went online, dove down a rabbit hole, and learned some things that horrified me.

The equivalent of one garbage truck of textiles is burned or sent to landfills every second. All together, fashion accounts for 10% of climate change.

BBC

I also learned that most new clothing brands follow the same template: produce, produce, produce, and hope it catches on. The result is mountains of unsold products that usually get thrown out. 

I wanted my company to make the world a better place, not produce more waste, so I stopped. My dream of running a clothing company looked more like a future full of guilt. I was bummed.

But then, everything changed. 

Made to Order

One day, in my stupor, I came across an article. A young couple in the UK had quit their jobs to found a jacket company. They were doing really well and used an ingenious strategy to reduce waste. 

Paynter Jacket Co, the couple's company, uses a model called made-to-order (MTO). They release a jacket, their customers place an order, and two months later, their jacket arrives. They make exactly the number of jackets they have orders for, so there's no waste. 

I knew this was the answer.

Bluegrass concert launch party, Nov 2023

Right now, as I sit in my humid sublet in New York, I'm piecing together the infrastructure for a made-to-order company of my own.

Spoiler Alert: We’re making sweaters.

In 2024, we're overstimulated and stressed. Too much screen time, too much loneliness, too many wars. We need comfort.

Sweaters have an important place in my heart, and they're part of the reason I started this company. They're warm, flattering, and notoriously colorless in men’s sizes. 

The formula is simple: beautiful colors, simple designs, the best materials.

Our sweaters should make you feel unique and appreciated, confident and happy. Because of the vibrant colors, we can almost guarantee you'll get compliments.

This will be an uphill battle. Most factories outside of China don't work in small MTO batches, and it's hard to break in without industry experience. The factory needs to be run by someone trustworthy who treats their employees well. Convincing them to agree to an MTO model will be tough. But we're going to try, because why the f#*k not?

If you are interested in helping want to get involved, please reach out to cdrescott@gmail.com.