What are the greatest menswear brands of all time?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by YoungAmerican, Sep 18, 2012.

  1. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Prof. Fabulous Dubiously Honored

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    +1. Versace ALMOST succeeded in setting a "lifestyle" brand early on, but (as I said earlier in the thread) the aesthetic simply couldn't connect with the audience RL did, nor be at a pricepoint where it could work.

    But, even in the 1980's, Versace was another brand that you can almost think of an idea or "theme" before you think of an actual item: sun drenched beaches, tanned chiseled men and beautiful women on a yacht, exquisitely died silks flowing in the breeze, etc.

    This aesthetic became something of a gimmick in the mid-late 1990's (due largely to the shift to minimalism AND Gianni's untimely death) and never really recovered, with the "lifestyle" brand shifting from very luxe upscale to "aging footballers with too much suntan lotion and Russian mobsters with too much gold jewelry."

    edit; by the way, if we're going to add brands like Sulka or others that influenced color, tone, or pattern, then brands like Etro or Byblos would be equally valid, the former for introducing a wide range of patterns into classic menswear and the latter for the shift toward subtle uses of bright solids. Not, I'm not arguing for their inclusion, but only to say that I think a case could be made why they (esp. Etro) would be a better fit than several of the others mentioned.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  2. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo Moderator

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    1. i think strict aesthetics is of great importance, and also impossible to rank. it is entirely subjective. i doubt anyone here likes the giant firm shouldered suits of the 80s. but at the time, people loved them, and some people still do. does the fact that you or i think they are hideous make them so? i wouldnt say so. its just my opinion. someone may hate bengal striped shirts, does that make them aesthetically bad? nope. there is no way to reach consensus on aesthetics.

    however, as pertained to accomplishments, effects on society and style around the world, appreciation by the public, name recognition... a brand can be ranked. at least to a certain degree. it gives framework within in which we can start to build. i do not think that is possible at all in strict aesthetic terms.

    as a side bar, i just went shopping today, and saw 10 drakes ties. while i love drakes, i thought half of them were gross. and i guarantee they will all find happy homes with owners who swear by them.

    2. i disagree. without branding and maketing almost none of us would have heard of many many companies. and they would have lived in obscurity, or died completely. we are all brand whores to one degree or another. anyone who denies that is lying to themselves. successful brand imaging and marketing is a very significant factor in the rise and fall, and dare i say, importance, of most brands. we may not even know it, but how we feel emotionally when we buy certain items, is a direct result of successful, muli layered, multi leveled, marketing.

    that is my opinion anyway.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  3. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo Moderator

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    well said. also, i own a ferre tie. :)
     
  4. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Prof. Fabulous Dubiously Honored

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    Get one of his pagoda-shouldered shearling trenches with internal construction like samurai armor and then we'll talk. :lol:
     
  5. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo Moderator

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    link? :D
     
  6. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Prof. Fabulous Dubiously Honored

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    edit; I posted some, but it will get the thread off track. People will say, "AGH! See what ugly fashion crap. Nope, BORRELLI is the greatest brand!" My quip to you was just a joke, anyway... okay, back to the real discussion!

    Somebody comment on Etro and Byblos, though....
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  7. in stitches

    in stitches Kung Joo Moderator

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    top middle, bottom right. full of win. would wear.
     
  8. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Well, Byblos was probably one of the first "collaboration" companies, in that it brought in new head designers frequently, and by design, so that they would put their mark on the brand, without losing its overall playful, colorful, tone. (This is in contrast to say, Chloe, which embraced fully the personality it the head designer.)

    Etro... I dunno (though I do love their paisleys, and have a most awesome purple and black silk shirt from about 2000). I mean, it started out making great fabrics, and moved onto whimsical, Euro-lensed preppy. So, if we needed a brand that essentially started by making Persian rugs, and changed the landscape by showing that really cool accessories and clothes could be made using Persian rugs, then sure.

    If this list was based on stuff that buy and wear, Wings+Horns and Common Projects would be put alongside Ralph Lauren and Martin Margiela. At least it could be argued that Number (n)ine and Engineered Garments were some of the first brands Japanese "Americana" brands, though radically different.

    BTW, Nike should really be put on that list. It's not just a shoe brand, though that's how they started. It really a lifestyle brand at this point, as is Adidas.
     
  9. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Prof. Fabulous Dubiously Honored

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    Good analysis. As I said above, I"m not arguing for their inclusion, but only trying to complicate the debate somewhat with alternatives lest things get too narrow. If others will argue for small brands like Sulka or others, which did things with prints or fabrics, then I just thought we'd have to consider others like Etro.

    In any case, I think still your list back several pages ago stands as the best so far. Balanced, fair, and inclusive.

    Quick note on Byblos; like Ferre, I think that those who only know fashion from 2005 or later don't realize that Byblos was quite a big brand back in the 1980's, with a big influence on the use of bright, seasonal colors. They still put out nice collections, surprisingly enough, but are almost impossible to find. I haven't seen it in stores in ages; my guess is that outside Italy/Paris they just don't have stockists (though I see an occasional item or two in japanese brand stores from time to time)

    LK and I used to lament on this forum the lengths one had to go through to find a store carrying either Byblos or Fendi Uomo. :)
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  10. cptjeff

    cptjeff Senior member

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    Bass absolutely belongs, just for the penny loafer, even though they've put out a lot more than that over the years (big source for bucks, camp mocs, and whatnot too). Can anybody think of a shoe company that doesn't make a version?

    Florsheim deserves a spot too. Single brand shoe stores were their innovation, and they sold luxury shoes to massive numbers of businessmen. In the 50's, every self respecting businessman in New York City was wearing black, pebble grain Florsheim gunboats to go with his gray flannel suit. They're a shadow of their former self now, but they should probably be on the list.
     
  11. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Senior member

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    Wait, really? I feel like the single brand shoe store would have been the next logical step after we move away from pre-industrial shoemaking. The multi-brand store concept seems like it requires a certain distribution network that would have been unlikely to exist 100 years ago. Did England not have single brand stores?
     
  12. mr monty

    mr monty Senior member

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    All time?? Maybe the last 10 or 20 years, but not all time. I bet less than 10% of SF has been wearing high quality clothing and shoes for more than 10 years?
     
  13. countdemoney

    countdemoney Senior member

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    Sulka was known for more than just ties. Their robes/dressing gowns were the standard for decades. Sulka also had a substantial existence - with almost 50 of those years - as taste leaders. Even decades old sulka pieces still look like and feel like a dream.

    I included vilebrequin on my list as they are one of the last practitioners of classic resort wear. While not in the company of some previously mentioned names for influence, there is something to be said for timeless style. Resort and beach wear are also part of men's fasion, as surely as shoes. I'm not sure if any company has a true influence in this space, but it's an overlooked area.

    I don't know if I've seen Pendelton mentioned, but they certainly deserve some consideration, certainly much more important and influential than Woolrich.
     
  14. mack11211

    mack11211 Senior member

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    The original multi-brand store predates brands, perhaps -- the department store, which was a mid 19th c development. The distribution/supply network was made possible by the rail system.

    The big distinction back then was whether you made what you sold, even if it all bore your label. Brooks Brothers were "makers and merchants" which distinguished them from those who were merchants only. But in the latter case, you would contract with whoever was useful to you at the time, just as Polo RL does today.
     
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2012
  15. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Senior member

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    Ah, right. Forgot about dept stores.
     

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