What are the greatest menswear brands of all time? - Page 4
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Their cashmere is fantastic, their collections always work well as a whole (whilst genuinely showing innovation) and every piece of BC I own is made to an exceptional standard.
I also really like the story of how the town of Solomeo operates. The brand functions very well as a whole, rather than just being a mish-mash of different, stand-out items.
I actually asked a sales associate about that the other day, and he said BB owned the brand name, but that they contract out the manufacturing. There are a couple of threads on SF that corroborate this (e.g. http://www.styleforum.net/t/136614/peal-company-brooks-brothers-shoes/0_20).
I would also have to vote for Ralph Lauren at the top spot, he is the only designer I know of that can have lines that represent luxury for every socioeconomic level. His Polo brand is/was the middle class luxury brand and it goes all the way up to Purple label with the absolute highest quality outside of Saville Row.
He has transformed the American fashion scene and continues to influence wearable fashion trends. His climb from a tie maker to the empire that exists today is amazing.
1. Ralph Lauren
2. Yamamoto (includes a variety of brands)
3. Giorgio Armani
4. Hedi Slimane (for Dior Homme)
5. Helmut Lang
7. Hugo Boss
8. Calvin Klein
9. Issey Miyake
16. Bathing Ape
22. Gianfranco Ferre
23. Thierry Mugler
26. J. Crew
29. Paul Smith
30. Clarks of England
31. Gucci (more for the loafer than anything else, though Tom Ford's era is definitely influential)
34. Anderson and Shepherd
35. Pierre Cardin
36. C.P. Company
38. Brooks Brothers
40. Perry Ellis
42. Jean Paul Gualtier
45. Donna Karan (though her influence in womenswear is much larger)
46. Rubinacci (London House sort of started that whole thing, so...)
48. Dolce & Gabbana
50. Tommy Hilfiger (one of the first "manufactured" brands)
The thing with Ralph is he built a brand that caters to all men, and has done so for many years successfully.. Each one of his labels hits the full spectrum of consumers. Purple label is in the top tier of RTW luxury menswear. Classic, refined and of very high quality. Black label is edgy, European and offers good quality, catering to the more progressive man. RLP is moderately priced, of good quality (for the most part) and puts forth an entire spectrum of classic offerings. RR is highly coveted by the street wear crowd, as well as folks who are after a more rustic/vintage collection of shirts, denim, leathers and work wear. Even the laymen can find what he needs via Ralph's lower brand department store offerings. Pound for pound, I don't think anyone else even comes close to the depth and breadth of what POLO offers. Couple that with the heritage, classic design--overall iconic status, and I think you have a brand that is far and away the greatest of all time. I would bet 95% of this forum has owned POLO at one time or another.
Edited by Frankie22 - 9/19/12 at 10:59pm
Excellent list, Fok. You got all those I had in mind. When I think of "greatest, " I also think of innovative in the sense of pushing the envelope for what a man considered himself able to wear on a daily basis. Thus, a designer would be innovative or "great" if before him a man would never have thought to wear something a certain way, but afterward could (and did) largely without even realizing it.
In this way, a Savile Row shop that remakes the same classic cut men's suit in various fabrics is not on my list, even though (personally) I might frequent them more than any on the "greatest" list. As such, I can hardly imagine why Brioni would be on the list. What did they change for menswear?
I'll comment on just a few that, IMHO, fit the criteria outlined above:
Armani: innovative, lightweight and synthetic fabrics, removing the stuffing from jackets and making them almost like shirts. Also defined a new color palette. Before Armani, nobody considered carrying over elements and fabrics from sportswear into classic men's tailoring.
Calvin Klein: was doing minimal, slim, and basic before anybody else, with a focus on innovative fabrics and leathers. Jil, Helmut, and Prada came AFTER CK.
Thierry Mugler: unique cuts that helped to define the 80's, big shoulder pads, slim trousers, boxy cut suits and jackets. What Hugo Boss and all the others did largely borrowed from Mugler (and Claude Montana in womenswear).
Gianni Versace: Luxury and romance. Very few were doing over-the-top luxury with bright colors and details before Versace.
Hedi for YSL: his Dior work is obviously more famous, but look at what else was being done in 1999 and compare to see the obvious difference.
Gaultier: androgyny and feminine details to jackets, sweaters, and leathergoods. Also was the first to play with lots of straps, clips, netting, etc. in menswear, which many did much later.
Ralph: for all the reasons others have mentioned; one of the first "lifestyle" brands... defined not just a style, but an entire aesthetic. He didn't really invent anything, but knew more about human psychology than probably any designer in history, and rode that all the way to the bank.
Sadly, I have to DISAGREE with Valentino; until very recently he didn't have a dedicated menswear line... 2003 and later. Yes, they made "men's items" to capitalize on their name, but it was only in the 2004-present years that Valentino really tried to carry over its DNA into menswear outside of a basic license. Valentino himself was a dedicated women's couturier with some good businessmen around him, and then a good team that made a nice men's line. having Valentino on this list is like having Givenchy... i.e. impossible except for RECENT contributions.