If it weren’t for American brands and the influence they’ve had on modern menswear, the contents of your wardrobe would likely look very different. There’d be no jeans for a start; no nylon gym gear, a glaring absence of flannel shirts, no leather biker jacket and no bomber. Plus any jackets that were still hanging there, well, they wouldn’t have zippers.
While countries like Italy and England have sculpted western tailoring into what it is today, the USA and the brands that call it home have done much the same for casualwear. From the clean-cut preppy stylings of New York’s very own Ralph Lauren to the rugged workaday garb of Red Wing and Carhartt, American companies have shaped the way we dress and there’s no shortage of labels deserving of your attention.
Below you’ll find a list of some of America’s finest menswear brands, ranging from well-established household names to exciting new upstarts. It’s by no means an exhaustive rundown, but it’s full of what we deem to be the cream of the USA’s menswear crop.
Founded in Manhattan over two centuries ago, Brooks Brothers is the USA’s oldest and most esteemed men’s outfitter. It’s also the spiritual home of tailoring in the States and is responsible for the invention of the Oxford button-down shirt. This occurred when John E. Brooks, the grandson of founder Henry Sands Brooks, fitted button-down collars to dress shirts after seeing them on English polo players. The resulting garment most likely occupies a space in your own wardrobe.
Founded in 2007, Californian basics brand Taylor Stitch (featured image, top) was born out of three friends’ frustration at being unable to find the perfect shirt. The goal was to create a casual garment that boasted the same quality and attention to detail as bespoke tailoring. When they succeeded in this, the next logical step was to create a whole collection composed of everything a man’s day-to-day wardrobe needs, but with a firm emphasis on fit and quality.
By using a direct-to-consumer model, Buck Mason prides itself on being able to deliver menswear staples of the highest quality for the best possible price. The garments themselves are modern takes on everyday American classics like button-down shirts, plain T-shirts and jeans. No-frills basics that are built with longevity at the fore.
Levi Strauss & Co.
San Francisco’s Levi Strauss & Co. boasts a heritage most clothing brands can only dream of. From humble beginnings as a simple haberdashery, Levi’s went on to create the first denim jeans. As a result, the label is now a household name and one of America’s biggest brands. Today, the label is still one of the most reliable sources for denim goods and casualwear. There’s even a retro-tinged premium line in the form of Levi’s Vintage Clothing.
It’s nice to have nice clothes, but it’s even nicer to know that they came from an ethical source. With a lot of big brands, this can be difficult, but Everlane provides a convenient solution. The label was founded in 2010 and offers customers a breakdown of cost for every item as well as teaming up with the most ethical factories from around the globe to produce its goods. In addition, garments really are built to last, meaning you can buy less and therefore be kinder to the environment.
New York’s Noah may be the youngest brand listed here but it’s also one of the most exciting. The label is the brainchild of former Supreme creative director Brendon Babenzien who fuses the preppy East Coast style he grew up around with streetwear and skate culture. Expect plenty of tactile fabrics, an eclectic colour palette and even the odd piece of tailoring.
The leather biker, as we know and love it today, would not exist if it wasn’t for Schott NYC. The label’s Perfecto motorcycle jacket – with its cropped cut, asymmetric zipper and belted hem – was revolutionary when it first launched. It quickly became a symbol of rock ‘n’ roll rebellion thanks to the likes of Marlon Brando and James Dean. Today, Schott NYC still produces some of the finest outerwear around, including its highly robust leather jackets and bombers.
Ralph Lauren’s trademark brand of squeaky-clean, preppy goodness has seen it become one of the world’s favourite destinations for smart-casual clothing. Polo shirts, Oxford button-downs, chinos and tailoring are its bread and butter, but the brand has also ventured into other areas such as sportswear, haute couture and even the odd hypebeast-bait collaboration.
A name synonymous with traditional American work boots, Red Wing’s products are renowned for their bulletproof build, tough-as-nails leather and trademark white wedge soles. They’ve been wearing down workshop floors for well over a century but these days you’re just as likely to find a pair on the feet of a bearded big-city barista as a Texan car mechanic.
From the Klondike Gold Rush to the hipster coffee shops of East London. Filson’s high-end outdoor garb has earned it a varied yet loyal cult following that spans well over a century. Why? Well, when your output is as consistently stylish and well-built as Filson’s is, it’s impossible not to attract attention. Expect, traditional, all-American, outdoorsy staples that are heavy on the quality and equally so on the good looks.
Founded by Daiki Suzuki in 2002, Engineered Garments plays on its creator’s passion for the outdoors. If you see a jacket or pair of pants with an inordinate amount of pockets, chances are they’re made by the brand. Sitting somewhere between workwear, outdoor gear, tailoring and streetwear, the label’s unique aesthetic has earned it pride of place in many of the world’s trendiest boutique menswear stores.
New York-based brand Common Projects released its legendary Achilles Low sneaker back in 2004. At the time, menswear didn’t know what was about to hit it. With this simple, unassuming piece of design, the new label had effectively reinvented the wheel. It had created a plain white sneaker for all other plain white sneakers to aspire to, and in doing so, ushered in a new era of minimalism in menswear.
The secret was the attention to detail, artisan craftsmanship and use of the finest materials. Something which is mirrored across the brand’s entire range of premium footwear to this day.