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What are the greatest menswear brands of all time? - Page 8

post #106 of 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by hendrix View Post

Yeah, nice summary.
I like to think the "nice deets bro" nerdery we have about interior construction might be partly attributable to him.
Or maybe that's only on the internet. Certainly in menswear it seems that those things are part of the sell.

That's one reason that these "greats" lists are so tough. "Great" doesn't necessarily mean "innovative;" "innovative" doesn't mean "influential," and "influential" doesn't necessarily mean unique or creative. Finally, none of that means that a designer was the first to do something, or even if he'she was first, that he/she did it the "best."

For example, as I said, Helmut isn't particularly influential, but then again RL isn't particularly "unique." Helmut had uniqueness to spare, but really wasn't all that innovative.

CK was innovative, influential, and the first to do many things (slim, minimal, sportswear fabrics), but he's hardly unique or the "best" at it, for I think Jil or early Prada did the "minimal" vibe pioneered by CK much better than he did.

Valentino could get out his sewing needle and run laps around RL, and with a piece of paper in front of them create 150 stellar looks in the time it took Ralph to unscrew the top off of his fountain pen. BUT, RL is assuredly more deserving of a place at the "Greatest" list, while I said above I'd not even include valentino anywhere.

Gaultier is almost assuredly more unique, innovative, and influential than Hedi Slimane, but Slimane is the reason why Gaultier's looks these days are "fresh" rather than goofy, 25 year old costume theatrics.

So, it's a very difficult discussion to have, but one that is interesting both given our own preferences and the particular criteria we'd use to define "greatest."
post #107 of 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by hendrix View Post

Yeah, nice summary.
I like to think the "nice deets bro" nerdery we have about interior construction might be partly attributable to him.
Or maybe that's only on the internet. Certainly in menswear it seems that those things are part of the sell.

It's not just on the internet. Menswear has many more limitations than womenswear, so distinctions and nearly always in the details. Also, and this is not only true of American men, but it is pronounced among American men, is the allure of the value proposition of "quality", the easiest measure of which is the perceived cost of making the garment. This is how you come up with things like the K-50 suit, which purportedly takes Kiton's well paid artisans 50 hours to make (as opposed to the regular Kiton suits, which apparently only take 25 hours.) Clearly, if you have lots of internal details, that's extra value.
post #108 of 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by LA Guy View Post

It's not just on the internet. Menswear has many more limitations than womenswear, so distinctions and nearly always in the details. Also, and this is not only true of American men, but it is pronounced among American men, is the allure of the value proposition of "quality", the easiest measure of which is the perceived cost of making the garment. This is how you come up with things like the K-50 suit, which purportedly takes Kiton's well paid artisans 50 hours to make (as opposed to the regular Kiton suits, which apparently only take 25 hours.) Clearly, if you have lots of internal details, that's extra value.

Interesting post. Historically, this was also true of Japanese men, but it's changing a lot. Young buyers these days aren't nearly as interested in these details as in history, where Japan is probably the most extreme example of quality related to perceived cost of making a garment.

For example, I remember seeing a report that the kimono made for the last Sumo yokozuna, made of a very "basic" looking silk called Oshima Tsumugi (not at all highly embroidered or detailed) cost nearly $200k to make, because the silk requires so much to dye and work with that basically a single master artisan spent half a year or more on the thing. As well, on the internet (in Japanese) are websites linking to fabric makers with $50k+ rolls of uncut fabric. Whereas there are only a VERY few Kiton K-50s, made largely for the advertising value... Yuki Tsumugi, Oshima Tsumugi, and these other multi-thousand dollar per yard japanese fabrics are really surprisingly common.

This was one reason why LV and many Euro brands did so well in Japan in the 1980's... it was perceived that they were the "best," with the best methods of production. That's largely changed, but luckily a few smart folk took advantage of this history to recycle the machines and such to make premium denim and such, but overall if you look historically at many traditional japanese wares, it's incredible the amount of time and effort it took to produce, and the almost unthinkable costs of the outcomes. America was/is similar in some respects, but whereas the current Japanese consumer is largely unconcerned/ignorant of these details, American consumers are becoming more interested in it again.
post #109 of 500
I based my list around "successful" and "influential", the reason being that the other criteria - unique, innovative, etc... are only important if you are then also successful and/.or influential. There could be some guy out there (Eric Glennie?) crying out in the wilderness, but if no one knows or no one cares, he is, at least imo, irrelevant. That said, I think that you can be influential without being particularly successful. I see very few examples of successes that are not influential though, because with very few exceptions, designers and brands want to be successful, and so successful brands are emulated by a million pretenders.
post #110 of 500
If you take both sportswear and fashion out of the discussion, you've limited yourself quite a bit. The golden age of tailored clothes and the golden age of ready-to-wear brands don't really overlap.

This discussion is interesting largely to the degree to which it avoids non-fashion tailored clothes.
I can see why someone would be interested in both excellent clothing and successful clothing business models, but they're really separate topics.

That being said, here's a list of 39 that conforms to your restrictions:

Brooks Brothers
Polo
Oxxford

Brioni
Kiton
Borrelli
Zegna
Barbera

Chester Barrie

Alden
Bass
Florsheim
Gucci (loafer)
Edward Green
John Lobb
Weston

Arrow
Gant

Talbott
Drake's
Cappelli

Burberry
Aquascutum
Invertere
Mackintosh

Arnys
Charvet
Hermes

Chipp
Sulka
Dunhill Tailors
Paul Stuart
Southwick
J. Press
Norman Hilton
Hickey-Freeman
H. Freeman

Lock
Borsalino

These brands are all old and in some cases defunct, but they were all successful or innovative at one time. I'll admit it has gaps for countries that I don't know much about and that it's too American.

But I think any list like this is going to be boring. The interesting stuff with tailored clothing is done by tailors and cordwainers. And by fashion designers, but you've excluded them.
post #111 of 500
TTM, actually I think we've been talking about fashion designers. At least the last half of this thread is about designers who have influenced the evolution of the suit, which I thought helped give concreteness to this list. I think somewhere earlier, Spoo criticized some earlier posts as being a list of "instakops," which I agreed with. That kind of definition of "greatness," IMO, would be both boring and really subjective. I liked the slightly more analytical turn.

I like some of the brands you mentioned. Brooks, RL, Bass, Brioni, and Zegna were discussed earlier, and I'd agree they'd rank among the great. Some, such as Mackintosh and Burberry, have obvious contributions. But some on your list - such as Edward Green, John Lobb, Oxxford, Charvet, Borrelli, Kiton, Drake's, and especially Cappelli - seem to me to be notable only in so far as they make pretty nice things. Am I wrong?

I'd like to include more tailors and cordwainers, actually, but I feel like they'd fall outside the definition of a "brand."
post #112 of 500
I'm sorry that I misunderstood you. While I realized you were interested in the fashion designer discussion, I thought you weren't looking for designer brands for your list. I included a bunch of the recent Men's Clothing brands because they represent the highest-quality tailored clothing that manages to survive today, which I think is a decent standard for greatness, but I admit they are almost completely lacking in "innovation."

My guess is that the vast majority of innovations in men's clothing before the 1960s were the result of an individual tailor working with an individual client. Nearly every canonical element of men's clothing is the result of many, many of these innovations that accreted over decades and are extremely difficult to trace, let alone ascribe to a brand. Therefore, I'm wary of attributing innovation to anyone but designers of the past half-century. This is even true of the few clearly identifiable brand signature items (the Weejun being the result of hundreds of generations of American Indian life, sifted through a few generations of Norwegian folk, then picked up by Bass; the Brooks buttondown copied from English polo players who had nothing to do with the brand).

For what it's worth, the only one from my list I'd really urge on you would be Arrow, as the great popularizer of the attached collar.
post #113 of 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post

Good points all around. Also agree about Stussy. They're probably one of the top five brands when it comes to real world impacts on how men dress today, but since we're sticking with tailored wear ...
I agree.
I'd like to explore this idea of John Paul Gaultier a bit more. I think it's worthwhile to talk about Armani, Jil, Lang, and Prada as having really big impacts on how suits were shaped in the 80s and 90s, arguably even a bit today, but did Gaultier's work have any lasting impact? I ask because I genuinely don't know. Much of the stuff I've seen and read of him seems to be very conceptual, and "confined" to the designer world. Again, not to say that conceptual contributions have no merit, but when trying to weigh ... say, how Thom Browne affected certain silhouettes in recent times ... I think it would be interesting to know.
Also curious to know Fok's reason for including Gianfranco Ferre.

Almost everything is cut just a bit shorter now, used to not be able to find suits that were really fitting me, now seems like most OTR is a much better fit given my shorter height. Also people like wooster promoting Thom Browne and then seeing grosgrain on H&M / Zara / fast fashion places as well as it appearing pretty much everywhere, I'd say Thom Browne has a case for making the list of 50.
post #114 of 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by NORE View Post

You ruined an otherwise thought provoking question by doing this:

To show his brilliance in re-branding himself and conveying his label as Waspy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jsoftz View Post

I don't think anything has to be a net-new to be considered innovative. .

Of course not, since everything is derivative to some extent. But to be considered as innovative, some newness has to be added to the existing paradigm. Armani's use of soft fabrics and low gorge in his suits, Versace's color contrast and printed silk shirts (god aweful, but innovative), Yamamoto's oversized look, Slimane's skinny suits, and Browne's short jackets all moved fashion forward -- for better or for worse.
Quote:
Originally Posted by in stitches View Post

RRL?

I am unfamiliar with RRL.
Quote:
Originally Posted by in stitches View Post

also, i think a lot of the PRL stuff is original to them.

Such as?

Quote:
Originally Posted by dieworkwear View Post

Jensen, I think you're right about design, actually. Much of RL's success, IMO, is about business and marketing achievement, not design. But I'm not sure if greatness in fashion - particularly in men's clothing - can be judge on just design terms. It's not a pure art form in the way music or painting might be. It's very much a commercial enterprise. The only place where design can exist as just as design is at schools such as Central Saint Martins, where students put on runway shows and are encouraged to be as creative as possible. For everyone else, fashion (and, again, particularly menswear) is one part design and one part business.
All the companies you named as RL's sources for inspiration, actually, are just as much commercial successes as design successes.
I suppose put another way, can you name a "greater" menswear brand than Ralph Lauren?

That is actually my point. RL is the most successful brand in history. But a true designer he is not.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SeaJen View Post


And why did you do this, JH?

See above.
Edited by JensenH - 9/22/12 at 4:53am
post #115 of 500
American Brands:

BrooksBrothers- surely the time in business alone should have them a top this list. They revolutionized RTW, and so many classics stem from their older collections. Plus, Lincoln (the President not the Park) wore their stuff.

Alden- Classic American footwear for a very long time

Allen Edmonds- Same thing

LLBean- The "rustic and country bupkin" BrooksBrothers

Filson- Check out their catalogue, they always have something thats over a hundred years old, practical and made strong. Plus, they are moving most of their production back to the USA

Levis- Do I need to explain?

Nike- Maybe not menswear, but certainly sportwear, changed how we look at the gym

Polo Ralph Lauren- The American Icon, even if its mostly made in China

European Brands:

Armani- Revolutionized the suit in the 80's, must be on the list.

Charvet- Shirts are considered a must have for any well to do well dressed man

Deisel- While the SF bunch may look down on this brand, I believe it was their marketing scheme that revolutionized how jeans are sold, priced, and advertised. I still won't wear it though, but the masses eat it up.

Crockett & Jones- While not as expensive and arguably, not as good as EG and JL, great shoes, fair prices on more feet than the latter

the only newer brand I'd put on here is:

Uniqlo- providing more fashionable option for the masses at fair prices...and popular with guys who wear 500 dollar sneakers and 400 dollar hooded sweatshirts...thats saying something.
post #116 of 500
I would take Diesel out of that list^^^
post #117 of 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by ter1413 View Post

I would take Diesel out of that list^^^

You don't think they brought the jean back from the stonewashed 80's stuff to what we see throughout major dept stores today (you know, that pre-washed, pre-distressed denim)? I don't wear them, but I think the brand created an identity for lots of other Euro denim companies to follow.
post #118 of 500
It's been said before, but in the US, the most influential player is Brooks.
post #119 of 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by NewYorkRanger View Post

You don't think they brought the jean back from the stonewashed 80's stuff to what we see throughout major dept stores today (you know, that pre-washed, pre-distressed denim)? I don't wear them, but I think the brand created an identity for lots of other Euro denim companies to follow.

I mean.....just based on the name of this thread..no.
I would put Guess up there b4 Diesel....no?
post #120 of 500
Quote:
Originally Posted by ter1413 View Post

I mean.....just based on the name of this thread..no.
I would put Guess up there b4 Diesel....no?

Good point, I guess (no pun intended) that they were the first., I guess D was the one that took it to the next step with people paying $200+ for jeans...I always saw guess as a bit cheaper, but I could be way off. We should ask The Situation...calling Mike, has anyone seen Mike?
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