Photo: Jason Stewart

If you’re looking for the most powerful hair dryer or the handiest chef’s knife, those things can be easy enough to find. Other objects of desire are a little more taste-based. What’s the next status water bottle or hand wash, for instance? Chris Black (he’s a partner at brand consultancy Public Announcement) is here to help in the form of a regular column. If you have a burning question about the next fanny pack or Noah rugby shirt, drop us an email with the subject line “Ask Chris” at

I’m getting married next year and want to get my groomsmen something unique and useful. Really trying to avoid the cliché gifts. Any suggestions?

Whatever you do, don’t get them a flask.

L.L. Bean Hunter’s Tote Bag, Open-Top

A monogrammed Hunter’s Tote Bag from L.L. Bean in olive would be useful and might last longer than your marriage! At less than $50 for the bag and monogram (which is $8 extra), this is an especially budget-friendly option for those ten-person groomsmen parties that are fast becoming de rigueur.

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