March 30, 2020

JUUL, White Claw, and Birddogs — The @GSElevator Summer Kit

I was asked about my favorite things of the summer. And my first response was JUUL. They said, “you can’t say that.” So I thought about it some more, and said, “JUUL.”

I’m not being paid to say that or write this; I assume that would be in violation of some FDA guideline. But here’s why I love my JUUL and a few other things I fell in (and out of) love with this summer, and a few things I don’t like:

Better Late Than Never

I know that people have been talking about JUUL for a few years already — the company’s $20 billion valuation, 40% market share, and its corruption of our teens with fun nicotine flavors like Mango and Creme Brulee. But I love my JUUL. It’s nice to take a break every few hours with like-minded colleagues or to escape the noise of a loud bar and actually have a conversation outside. The taste and experience is smooth and I’m a non-smoker. There’s no smelly clothes, bad breath, sore throat, or dirty lungs, and the process of exhaling a cloud of water vapor is relaxing. It helped me quit drinking, which was probably a worse habit. And because I try to offset the nicotine, I find myself eating healthier and being more active.

Athletic Apparel That Isn’t Lululemon

Every time I see a guy in Lululemon I want to punch him in the face, but then I look down and remember that I’m also wearing Lululemon. So I traded all of mine in for Birddogs. The founders torched a smug Mark Cuban on national TV and then went out and proved him wrong by building an $80 million brand in two years, not to mention the fact that it’s a vastly superior product (they poached LULUs men’s design head and got him a muse) at a better price point.

The Book Of The Summer

I’ve got two kids under six; my pool and beach time is largely spent doing other things, so I probably only got through a handful of books this summer, which is still better than most. My favorite book was Safi Bahcall’s, Loonshots: How to Nurture the Crazy Ideas That Win Wars, Cure Diseases, and Transform Industries. The Financial Times called it an “ambitious and entertaining effort to lay out some fundamental laws of success and uncover the truth about successful group behavior.”

Gamifying Insect Removal

This fly and insect salt blaster gun makes the process of taking out irritating bugs when you’re eating outside or sitting around the pool so much fun. And the carcasses are left intact so there is no gooey mess. My brother-in-law and I literally fight over this thing.

Sunglasses That Aren’t Ray-Bans

I hate seeing a thousand Chads with dadbods at the beach wearing the same sunglasses as me. I found these Cloos glasses in the South of France two summers ago, and the brand has exploded ever since. They’re understated, classic, unisex (my wife stole mine), and have a quality that rivals most expensive brands. After all, sunglasses are important; they serve a valuable purpose in terms of function and fashion, and convey to people (women) that you appreciate and take care of nice things.

Lay Down The Claw

I’m tired of hearing about the White Claw hard seltzer, and I’m not a fan of the Chad bro culture associated with it. But I am a huge fan of premium canned wine (even though I don’t drink anymore). It’s inconspicuous in a car or at the beach, and if you’re going out, you can take one discreetly in an Uber. And one can is equal to half a bottle of wine, so it’s the perfect headstart for a night out. The Underwood Sparkling Rose at Whole Foods was my favorite, but the genre has exploded with many new brands.

Low Maintenance Dress Shirts


I’m sick of dry cleaners charging $3 a shirt and then having to coddle my shirts when I travel just to prevent wrinkles and stains. These slimming Mizzen shirts are machine washable, sweat resistant, and wrinkle free. And they are more comfortable than my Lululemon tees, which I also traded in for a better alternative in Mott & Bow.

Quality curation

There’s too much content out there — too many podcasts, and too many tweets. And with the changing algorithms, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are frustratingly unreliable. So I get my morning fix from The Water Coolest and Bloomberg’s Matt Levine and entertainment and cultural relevance from FinMeme Instagram influencers like Arbitrage Andy or Litquidity.

A Prada Card Case

Having an iPhone case that holds cards might be convenient, but they’re ugly. Phone cases should really only be for the irresponsible and poor. Grow up and get a more refined version of a wallet. Prada makes by far the best one in my opinion because they have a patent on saffiano leather, so it’s totally unique, and uniquely durable. But there are plenty of good options out there. Fashion statements should be made with fun accessories, not with idiotic things like statement socks.

Summer Shouldn’t End With Labor Day

I genuinely don’t understand why so many men neglect the importance of swim trunks in terms of functionality, comfort, and fashion. So why am I still seeing guys wearing gym or board shorts in the pool? This summer, courtesy of the FT’s, How To Spend It, I found these Thorsum trunks.

Staycations

Last summer, I took my kids to Disneyland. It was miserable and overpriced. There was no magic waiting in line for an hour to see Mickey. We came back exhausted, poorer, and with disappointed kids. This summer, we did three or four short, local trips, most recently at The Woodlands Resort in Houston. It was cheaper, more relaxing, and the kids had considerably more fun.

Not Neglecting My Top Drawer

I believe in a few simple truths when it comes to the top drawer. Statement socks are dumb. Pairing and sorting is a waste of time. And fresh socks feel great. That’s why I started Brummell — a subscription service for premium-quality socks. And since the average man replaces underwear every seven years, we added the most comfortable boxer briefs on the planet. And more importantly, every order is matched with a donation to The Bail Project or The PTSD Foundation.

The Game of Pharaohs

If chess is the game of kings, then backgammon is the game of pharaohs. Not only is it the oldest board game in the world, it’s also an addictive blend of skill (when you win) and luck (when you lose). You can pick one up at Walmart or for the price of a cheap car.

Bikes that have nothing to do with Peloton

Cycling is my new sober hobby. Each journey is its own accomplishment. It’s totally different from cardio at the gym, where my boredom is alleviated only by my Spotify playlist (Maxo Kream). And it carries the unique requirement of having to be focused and aware (for safety) and also the therapeutic qualities of being in the zone, which is incredibly relaxing. Not only do I dislike the cult-like Peloton culture, I find indoor cycling to be tedious and boring. So I bought a Pinarello and have been loving it every day since.

Earphones That Aren’t AirPods

Apple Airpods look dumb, get lost, and the sound quality isn’t great. I bought these audo-technica earphones, but I’m no audiophile, so just get anything but AirPods.

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John LeFevre is the creator of @GSElevator, the founder of a fashion line, a podcast host, and the author of the New York Times bestselling book, Straight To Hell: True Tales of Deviance, Debauchery, And Billion-Dollar Deals, currently in development as a major motion picture.

John LeFevre

John LeFevre

Former banker (NYC, London, HK), social media character (GSElevator), and bestselling author (Straight To Hell)

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