Remember guys that this is all personal preference.
I've never shopped a Rugby store so I can't rate them, A&F and AE to me pretty much triggers people who only follow trends have no style at all. But I'm sure underneath all of that, you can find one or two solid pieces here and there and topman hasn't come to the states yet so I can't rate them on their clothing but for one, they need to fix their shipping system...and pronto.
1) Banana- The reason why I'm putting them at #1 is that they of all of these brands listed balance casual and dressy better for my personal style (classic european from brooklyn). Its all in the pieces you find and the price points are solid. It sucks their trousers aren't slim enough and their shirts suck (saggy collars). Their shoes are either a hit or miss and for the most part being misses but their hits are spot on.
2) Uniqlo- I don't shop here too often but they do have very solid pieces at very affordable prices. When they had cashmere turtlenecks at $60 last month, I nearly fell out and this is the norm for them. I was told their jeans are very good (not suprised but I am married to levis 511 for now) and I'll do some research on their dressier items.
3) J Crew- I'll put their casual wear light years ahead of BR but their formal wear does not do it for me at all. They don't offer too much here with very little variation at that, in regards to their suits and shoes. They've been good to me as far as quality goes so I go in expecting pieces to last me for season upon season. This is my go to store these days b/c their deals/promos are too good to pass up. Their desert boot trumps BR anyday. J Crew's women line? Best of this list no doubt with Banana not too far in 2nd.
4) Club Monaco- I personally think their okay and can be better but when they are good casually, their as good as J Crew. Love their blazers (hate the single vents) and they offer a lot of variety that Banana certainly doesn't and J Crew won't...even at a ridiculous price point. I mean come on, $450 for a Tartan Blazer w/ shawl collar? You can go piss off....
5) H&M- The only reason I'm placing them in front of Zara is affordability. With that being said, I rarely shop there but I always do spot checks here and there and noticed their S/S '09 is as good as I've ever seen (still needs work though). In a supermarket analogy, they're like perishable foods, they do well for you in the short run and leave you having to buy, buy, buy again. In this ecomonoy, they should be doing well with the promos they throw out there. Their womens line? You can't find anything better at their price points and they'll be quality finds too!!
6) Zara- They offer the best suits to me as far as fit goes (banana, a bit pricey and not slim enough for me but good variety, H&M- too skinny and trendy) but that's about it for me. Their shoes remind me of shoes that Steve Madden/Aldo offer with the way too skinny square toe that slopes (I call em the "Aspens") and represent the ugly side of Europe we Americans would not like to know them for or like to see. With that being said, I bought some sick military inspired boots a month and a half ago which I love to death.
7) Gap- Poor gap. I saw Patrick Robinson about a month ago in the financial district and he's such a cool guy in general, but for his brand, not so much. Their F/W ads were awesome(!) and they usually are but their items still lack in quality. Aesthetically they don't look right and even worse when you try them on. They don't totally get it wrong, I love their cords from last season, and plan on getting a gray/green stripe cardigan very shortly. Wmns/gap kids/baby gap? They totally work.