Style Strategies

⇾ How Matt Hranek Shops

Style Strategies

⇾ Matt Hranek, Author & Founder of Wm Brown Project

The man about town on buying quality goods, but never overpaying for hype

Wm Brown Project founder Matt Hranek

How do you sum up a guy like Matt Hranek? He does a lot, makes it look easy and does it all while dressed to kill. He's known for his impeccable taste. In fact, he literally wrote the book (well, books) on everything from the classic Negroni and Martini, to the beautiful cars and watches of legendary men.

He's also the founder of the Wm Brown Project, which puts out a beautiful magazine that celebrates men like Hranek. “The guy who loves well-crafted and well-tailored things, simple food, a good story, an off-the-beaten path trip, a good hunt, a trout stream, European sports cars, pickup trucks, a well-made cocktail, or an unapologetic can of cheap lager beer,” he says. “These are some of the specifics that have begun to define what Wm Brown has become.”

We've been wanting to chat with him for this series for a while, as I knew he'd have some interesting thoughts on acquiring goods, the luxuries worth splurging on and smart ways to spend your money. He just teamed up with the British heritage label Sunspel to recreate his favorite long-sleeve version of the brand's Riviera polo shirt in three classic colorways. We caught up with him while in Rome to talk about buying quality goods, but never overpaying for hype.


Wm Brown Project founder Matt Hranek
Wm Brown Project founder Matt Hranek

Describe your personal style in five words or less.

Preppy meets old Italian guy.

Sunspel Wm Brown long-sleeve polo

$225 by Sunspel

What initially drew you to work with Sunspel?

I was immediately smitten with the Riviera Polo and it quickly became a favorite item that I never travel without. After that introduction, I discovered my fondness for Sunspel T-shirts and the brand's knitwear.

Sunspel Wm Brown long-sleeve polo

$225 by Sunspel

Three favorite brands, currently?

It's an ever-evolving list, but right now, it of course includes Sunspel. Other regular favorites are Ralph Lauren Polo, Budd shirts and New & Lingwood.

Vintage 1950s Martini cafe ashtray

Best thing you bought for
under $20 recently ...

A vintage 50s Martini cafe ashtray.

Vintage 1950s Martini cafe ashtray


Something you’re looking to buy
at the moment?

The only thing I actively fantasy shop around for are cars and living in Rome has had me set my sights on an early Fiat 500.

Vintage Rolex Submariner watch

Available via
DeMesy Fine Watches

What was the item that you thought about the longest before buying?

Honestly, I'm a pretty spontaneous shopper, but I had been looking for an early Rolex submariner 5508 that was not going to break the bank for sometime. I recently grabbed one at auction that had a heavy patina that I loved and the price was right for me!

Vintage Rolex Submariner watch

Available via DeMesy Fine Watches

Do you shop more online or in person?

Ideally I shop in person where I can touch things and try on items if possible. I also like the contact and engagement with sales people. I will buy things like deodorant online.

What city has the best shopping?

This is hard question. I like shopping in many cities for different reasons. I really like Madrid for vintage furniture, Rome for one-off wardrobe items like pajamas and socks, Paris is great for the flea market finds and New York is one-stop shopping for my bespoke stuff like suiting.


Necessary extravagance?

Alden snuff suede loafers. Worth every penny.

Alden snuff suede penny loafer

$688 by Alden

What’s something you simply refuse to spend a lot on?

I spend a lot of time in Italy where a fantastic coffee is at the most €1,50, so the idea of a $5 drip coffee just infuriates me. And don't even get me started about iced coffee ... give me a NYC bodega coffee for $2 any day.

Is there something you buy multiples of (either by design or by default)?

If I look at my wardrobe redundancies it is blue chambray shirts, khakis, white denim and grey turtleneck sweaters.

Give us one shopping tip or hack that you can let everyone know about.

When I poke around vintage shops and find a pair of shorts, pants or jeans, rather than having to try them on, you can get a pretty good idea of the fit by wrapping the waist around your neck. If it fits comfortably, then it should fit your waist too. This trick has saved me a lot of time undressing in shabby second hand shops or flea market stalls.

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