What are the greatest menswear brands of all time?

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

  1. YoungAmerican

    YoungAmerican Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    That's a really interesting list, Fok. There was already a "Top 50 Streetwear Brands" list, so we'll be focusing on tailored clothing and to some extent the accessories that go with them, but I somehow didn't have Calvin Klein on our draft list (duh), among others.
     


  2. NORE

    NORE Senior member

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    I believe my bias has a solid foundation so I move to have that prominent website settle for an article on the top menswear brand of all time followed by 49 others who will never catch him. I like how Tommy is at the bottom of Fok's list. he he hee
     


  3. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    You are probably right about Valentino, since his main contributions were in womenswear, but I'll argue for Brioni. It popularized the Roman silhouette, and was synonymous for many years with Hollywood glamour and European sophistication on this side of the Atlantic, with clients like Clark Gable and Cary Grant.
     


  4. Bjorling

    Bjorling Active Member

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  5. jeff13007

    jeff13007 Senior member

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    That and according to their book they also held the first ever fashion show for Menswear. And according to the book The Suit "The Firm Brioni single handedly invented that Continental Silhouette" And if you read the book this is apparently the silhouette which most designer suits derive from, so they did quite a lot for menswear.
     


  6. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    I've read that they did the fist ever mens fashion show (this was shortly after the firm was founded, so, in the mid/late 1950s), but I'm hesitant to say it was the first show ever. It's also possible that Brioni was instrumental in the monumentally successful "Made in Italy" campaign, but I don't know if that is actually true, or just lore.
     


  7. jeff13007

    jeff13007 Senior member

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    This is the quote taken from their book, I'm not sure where the author got the info from and i wasn't alive back then so i can confirm this
    "in 1952, when the rite of the runway was still exclusively for women, Brioni presented the first men's fashion show. Since then, Brioni has dressed many of the world's most recognizable men, from Gable to Wayne, Pacino to Baldwin, and Bond."

    http://books.google.com/books/about/Brioni.html?id=8po3AQAAIAAJ

    Edit: you are probably right that it wasn't the first show ever but since no one else has claimed it i guess it goes to them.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012


  8. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Senior member

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    That's my understanding as well, the distinction of them being the first full men's brand to host a fashion show (not the first fashion show) and popularizing not only the Roman silhouette, but more importantly Italian style, in America.

    I really like your list, Fok. Just curious on your reasoning for J Crew and Paul Smith? I assume APC is for introducing non-"fashion" raw jeans?

    I was wondering if Bass should be included for having brought the Norwegian loafer to the US. I don't know if it's necessarily true, but one could argue that the popularity of the penny loafer made it possible to have the Gucci loafer, driving loafer, and tassel loafer. That brands essentially felt there was a viable market for these kinds of shoes because of how popular the penny loafer was in America.

    I tried to think of innovative business models as well. I thought someone's mention of LL Bean's use of the mail order catalog was interesting. Though I think that was really invented by Montgomery Ward and then pushed by many dept stores after that. Perhaps LL Bean showed how brands could do their own mail order system? Have there been other innovations in business models? I feel like fashion brands have been somewhat late adopters of digital technologies.
     
    Last edited: Sep 20, 2012


  9. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    J. Crew I put in for two reasons. The first is that in middle America, it was, AFAIK, the first "fashion" brand that was extensively marketed and sold by catalogue. In that way, it was distinguished from GAP and it's subsidiaries, and also from LL Bean, which was never sold as a fashion brand. And it was not a retailer. The second reason is Andy Spade and Mickey Drexler (it's essentially Drexler's second Opus). Sort of a "If Mohammed will not go to the Mountain... " thing. It was not going to get sold alongside Belstaff and Globetrotter and Alden, so we will sell Globetrotter and Alden and Belstaff alongside it. Competition, move aside. Brilliant.

    Paul Smith was a pioneer in bringing British sensibilities to foreign audiences, and particularly to Japan.

    A.P.C. was essentially the first catalogue midmarket fashion brand. And especially during its earlier years, its jeans and clothing were essentially a fashion uniform. The skinny jean that Hedi Slimane popularized at Dior Homme jean was built with it as inspiration.
     


  10. LA Guy

    LA Guy Opposite Santa Staff Member Admin Moderator

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    Innovative business models in apparel and footwear? Ralph Lauren, obviously. I'd argue that J. Crew and GAP as well (both Mickey Drexler innovations).

    In digital: Net-a-porter (first for full-priced retail), Bluefly (the first discounter) and Vente-Privee (the grandmommy of all flash sales). Zappos.

    In genera, the luxury brands have been notoriously slow on the draw in digital.
     


  11. CBrown85

    CBrown85 Senior member

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    There was a write-up about Yoox in the New Yorker the other week that directly addresses the internet sales phenomenon.
     


  12. dieworkwear

    dieworkwear Senior member

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    This is a really great discussion.

    Some thoughts:

    First, I guess Jesse and I are mostly doing tailored clothing + things you might wear with tailored clothing. So sportswear and streewear are out, though I don't know if designer tailored clothing remains (I haven't talked to Jesse about it). Given that, I think certain brands such as Filson and Nike are out, as are Bathing Ape and Stussy (a shame, but on the upside, it helps us narrow this list down a bit).

    I'm then curious about a few things. First, what was your reason for The GAP? The most memorable thing I can think of is the khakis campaign and its role as a kind of mass-outiftter (on three different levels). If we're taking that, I wonder if old mass outfitters such as Burton should be included, given our "tailored wear" focus. Perhaps Burton might represent a kind of "dark suits for the every day man" age in Britain? And that makes it "great?" Don't know if I'm stretching here.

    I'm also curious about your inclusion of Hanes. No idea who is "greater" - them or Fruit of a Loom.

    As for John Paul Gaultier, are we talking about his suits with exaggerated proportions? Crazy wide, padded shoulders with tight bodies? Did that have an impact outside of the designer world? Not that his work is discounted because it's just in the designer world, but I thought I'd ask. Could one say that his work was a bridge between the deconstructed Armanis in the 80s and the Lang and Prada minimalism in the 90s? I feel like those three had a bigger impact on the commercial world, for whatever that's worth.

    For Zegna, are you suggesting them for their vertically integrated business model? Essentially going from cloth to suit manufacturing? Do you know if they were one of the first to do that? I think Cerruti does too, no?

    Have a few more thoughts, but have to turn to some other work for now. I'm enjoying this discussion though.
     
    Last edited: Sep 21, 2012


  13. JensenH

    JensenH Senior member

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    If this list is ranked by the criterion who is the most financially successful menswear designer, then Ralph Lauren absolutely and irrefutably belongs at the top spot.

    If, on the other hand, the ranking is based on design innovation and influence on the fashion industry, R.L. do not even belong in the top ten.

    Mr. Ralph Lipschitz is a brilliant merchandiser and businessman, and his lines are loved by all segments of economical class.

    But a designer? Hardly.

    To wit: The Ivy Look -- from B.B. and J. Press.

    The ubiquitous polo tee shirts -- Lacoste

    Jeans and denim wear -- Levis

    Outdoor rugged clothing -- LL Bean. (A fashion writer who interviewed him had noticed Mr. Lipschitz and his brother cutting out photos from a Bean catalog in his design studio)

    RLPL -- Savile Row

    RLBL -- Hedi Slimane

    Polo tailored clothing -- again, B.B. and Press.

    Everything he puts out is derivative. I honestly can not think of one innovative design from him. Can you?
     


  14. jeff13007

    jeff13007 Senior member

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    See i was always under the impression that it was the Savile Row firms particularly Henry Poole that brought that to Japan turn of the 20th century. If the stories are to be believed the word for suit in Japan "Sebiro" is a derivation of "Savile Row"
     


  15. NORE

    NORE Senior member

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    You ruined an otherwise thought provoking question by doing this:

     


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