Despite what some Silicon Valley evangelists might have us believe, digital disruption is not the cure-all for all modern needs. Back in 2011, four years into his online menswear business, Bonobos founder and CEO Andy Dunn realized this with the opening of Bonobos Guideshop in New York, his brick-and-mortar retail store.

It turns out some people still like to touch and try on their trousers, one leg at a time, before committing to a purchase. But that’s not to say there isn’t at least a little room for disruption for Bonobos, which has roots in Silicon Valley and was backed with funding from some tech industry heavyweights.

Four years after opening the New York location, Bonobos is in tge midst of a growth period with its 13th Bonobos Guideshop debuting at Santana Row today, and up to 30 potential locations opening within two years. The only other Bay Area location is near Union Square in San Francisco.

With a lean approach to retail, the Guideshop puts an emphasis on customer experience with one-on-one guided fittings and stylings in a casual environment. Visitors can make an appointment in advance or stop by for walk-in. A couch and seats await with a complimentary beer for those with time to kill.


If there is a sale, it’s still completed online at the store or later at the customer’s convenience, with the product shipped within 2-3 days of the purchase. Since there is no need for a stock room full of clothes for direct sales, distribution costs are minimized, keeping the price point down and the focus on customer service and finding the right fit.

“From a traditional retail standpoint, it’s really turning it upside down,” says retail director Ron Thurston, in town from New York for the Santana Row launch during our visit.

It’s easy to see the appeal for the reluctant male shopper, who could learn a few pointers during the process, while also avoiding the sometimes-exhausting scene at larger stores. Once a size and style preference is determined, more purchases can be made online without a second visit.

Visitors to the Bonobos Guideshop at Santana Row will find a modest space with the company’s signature washed chinos covering a table with various colors and patterns, a variety of button-down shirts and blazers cover one wall, while another small section caters to distant summertime plans with bright swimwear patterns.


The chinos date back to the company’s origin, where Dunn, living in Atherton while working on an MBA from Stanford, went into business with his classmate Brian Spaly, who started out by self-tailoring his khakis with his girlfriend’s sewing machine for a better fit. This also inspired one of Bonobos’s first design goals: eliminate khaki diaper butt.

With “diaper butt” seemingly conquered, Bonobos now accommodates most wardrobe essentials with fashion-forward designs, and plans are in motion to expand its existing golf line, Maide, and women’s line, Ayr.