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What are the greatest menswear brands of all time?

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

  1. bourbonbasted

    bourbonbasted Cyber Eliitist

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    While there still could be an argument made for brand legacy, if that's the case then I agree it shouldn't be included.
     


  2. Frankie22

    Frankie22 Senior member

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    Ralph is number one by far.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012


  3. impolyt_one

    impolyt_one Senior member

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    I don't know if it's the greatest menswear brand of all time, but it is deserving of a high ranking on this list.
     


  4. MikeDT

    MikeDT Senior member

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    Ralph is certainly prolific. Think RL is the only brand mentioned so far that has a store in this city. Never bought anything there though.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012


  5. Jermyn

    Jermyn Senior member

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    Although it might not be the top brand (or even in the top 10), I'm surprised nobody has mentioned Cucinelli yet.

    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.
     


  6. NORE

    NORE Senior member

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    Three words: Polo Ralph Lauren.

    If he aint at least in the top 5 imma see you, son.

    :)
     


  7. SpiffEngineer

    SpiffEngineer Senior member

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    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).
     


  8. MZhammer

    MZhammer Senior member

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    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.
     


  9. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I'm going to take a crack at this, and am basing the list on whether the brand had a lasting impact, and whether it created any iconic pieces, and then, last, on longevity. I am leaving out "quality" altogether, since the definition of quality is amorphous, at best, and also, probably the best stuff is made by some lone guy in the mountains somewhere who we will never hear about. Also, I am leaving out any brand that is not known for menswear, or for whom I know menswear was an afterthought for the founder (thus the lack of Martin Margiela or Rolex.) Not in order (Levis should definitely be higher, for example). I have included shoe brands. I think that the list is American and Eurocentric for a reason. Japan is a fairly new player, and though it has some influential designers (Yamamoto) let's face it, people are walking around wearing western style suits. I've left out some fairly influential designers because their brands came late to the menswear game, and their real impact was on womenswear (e.g. Yves Saint Laurent).

    1. Ralph Lauren
    2. Yamamoto (includes a variety of brands)
    3. Giorgio Armani
    4. Hedi Slimane (for Dior Homme)
    5. Helmut Lang
    6. Zegna
    7. Hugo Boss
    8. Calvin Klein
    9. Issey Miyake
    10. Levis
    11. Barbour
    12. Mackintosh
    13. Burberry
    14. Adidas
    15. Stussy
    16. Bathing Ape
    17. Converse
    18. Hanes
    19. Diesel
    20. A.P.C.
    21. Versace
    22. Gianfranco Ferre
    23. Thierry Mugler
    24. Schott
    25. GAP
    26. J. Crew
    27. Filson
    28. Vans
    29. Paul Smith
    30. Clarks of England
    31. Gucci (more for the loafer than anything else, though Tom Ford's era is definitely influential)
    32. Gieves&Hawkes
    33. Huntsman
    34. Anderson and Shepherd
    35. Pierre Cardin
    36. C.P. Company
    37. Nike
    38. Brooks Brothers
    39. Prada
    40. Perry Ellis
    41. Valentino
    42. Jean Paul Gualtier
    43. Belstaff
    44. Brioni
    45. Donna Karan (though her influence in womenswear is much larger)
    46. Rubinacci (London House sort of started that whole thing, so...)
    47. Woolrich
    48. Dolce & Gabbana
    49. Abercrombie&Fitch
    50. Tommy Hilfiger (one of the first "manufactured" brands)
     


  10. hendrix

    hendrix Ill-proportioned

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    ^I completely forgot about CP company/Massimo Osti. That could be way higher up the list, IMO.

    Generally agree with most of it though.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012


  11. bourbonbasted

    bourbonbasted Cyber Eliitist

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    Great list, Fok. Some in there I'd leave out or replace, but on the whole you hit the nail on the head. Leaving "quality" out is a tough game to play on SF, especially within MC. That said, 90% of the companies you listed have had an impact not only in menswear and fashion, but also on pop culture as a whole. Really, the mark on Western (and Eastern) culture, whether it be through design, commerce, branding or innovation on all of these fronts, should distinguish the best brands.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012


  12. JubeiSpiegel

    JubeiSpiegel Senior member

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  13. Frankie22

    Frankie22 Senior member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012


  14. rach2jlc

    rach2jlc Prof. Fabulous Dubiously Honored

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2012


  15. GusW

    GusW Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    +1

    I agree with adding Luciano Barbera. He had one of the early great Italian clothing lines in the USA combining some of the finest imported fabrics and a blended Italian/British style.
     


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