Every man experiences a lack of sartorial inspiration from time to time. It’s not easy to keep outfits interesting and wardrobes well stocked, and even the best-dressed gentlemen can occasionally get stuck in a style rut.
The trick is to keep things fresh. One way to achieve this is to get some new designers on your menswear radar. We’re talking about the lesser known, the direct-to-consumer, the emerging, and the independent. Labels that can inject a dose of new and exciting into a stagnant wardrobe.
Here, we’re counting down some of our favorite brands that you might not know about. Including who they are, what they do best and why they are worth introducing into your rotation.
One day in March
It may be temporarily overshadowed by bright colors, over-the-top details and voluminous silhouettes in mainstream menswear, but make no mistake – minimalism is here to stay. And leading the resistance is the Swedish independent label A Day’s March.
With several brick and mortar stores already established in their home areas, and now one in London’s Soho, A Day’s March’s signature brand of stripped-down simplicity has quickly made them a favorite here at Ape.
Expect well-made wardrobe items with sleek cuts and understated branding as standard. For a quick snapshot of what the label is all about, check out the military-inspired overshirts. They are clean, versatile, timeless and a great example of what the Stockholm-based brand does so well.
Most dress codes are pretty firmly established. Considered this, attempting to redefine one is no small undertaking. Yet that is exactly what the British label L’Estrange does with its unique take on the term ‘smart casual’. And with a miraculous effect.
The brand was born in 2013 from the desire to create the perfect hoodie. A garment with all the best features of a traditional hooded sweatshirt, but infused with custom DNA. Literally a smart/casual hybrid.
The results speak for themselves. And now L’Estrange has expanded to include a full range of neo-smart-casual basics, including trousers, shirts and T-shirts.
The first and most important step in building something beautiful is laying a solid foundation. This applies not only to architecture, but also to your wardrobe. A reliable sartorial arsenal relies heavily on the selection of basics that form the backbone. When these are in order, everything else falls into place. If not, then you have a problem.
Fortunately, Stockholm-based Asket brand is all about the essentials. Since 2015, the Scandinavian label has been on a mission to equip men with the fundamental tools they need to build the perfect capsule wardrobe.
The idea behind the brand is to create timeless basics that last forever, not just one season. Combine that with quality craftsmanship and a focus on sustainability and you get one of the slickest purveyors of stylish staples you’ll ever come across.
With dress codes easing across the board in menswear, sneakers have found a new audience. These sporty staples have gone from athleticism to worn legit with tailoring. Still, it wouldn’t have been possible if the brands hadn’t made it their mission to make them smarter.
One such label is ETQ., a Dutch brand that specializes in the kind of luxury sneakers that go with almost every clothing combination you can think of. It’s all thanks to a simple design, high-quality materials and traditional craftsmanship. These are the kind of kicks you’re always looking for – something you can wear for everything from a job interview to a night out with great results.
Swedish brothers Niklas and Mattis Oppermann founded Carl Friedrik in 2012 after becoming frustrated with the lack of well-designed, high-quality leather goods that they wanted to use themselves or give as gifts to friends.
Luckily for the rest of us, they quickly rectified this. Carl Friedrik’s stylish luggage is sleek, well-made and versatile. Crafted from the highest quality Italian leather by true artisans, the range includes weekend bags, backpacks, tote bags, briefcases and even suitcases. In short, everything you need to get your stuff from point A to point B as beautifully as possible.
The Swedish lifestyle store Arket entered the market in August 2017 and enjoyed unprecedented success. The offspring of H&M, this minimalist high street mecca offers a breath of fresh air from the hustle and bustle, serving stylish trinkets, good coffee and, of course, excellent clothing.
Here you will find clothes that are well made, spotless and just plain Scandinavian cool. Keep your eyes peeled for their overshirts and tailoring, but where Arket really shines is with its knitwear. Think fine-mesh merino wool and just the right amount of restraint.
King & Tuckfield
King & Tuckfield, founded by Londoner Stacey Wood in 2016, is a relatively young label that is already making waves. Since day one, the menswear industry has been buzzing with British-made selvedge denim and cuts that are so sleek, contemporary and cool they would give Acne Studios and APC a run for their money.
These are classic, simple clothes with a big personality. Elegant garments that somehow manage to be both subtle and statement at the same time.
The label also has close friends. Manly model and smart city man Richard Biedul is a fan and has recently launched a co-branded collection. But for King & Tuckfield, this is just the beginning.
A market stall selling boxer shorts made from shirts may not sound like a great starting point for a stylish menswear label, but it certainly worked for SIRPLUS.
Since 2010, the company has been a fixture on London’s Portobello Market. And what started as such a simple concept has turned into a full fashion brand over time.
However, perhaps it would be unfair to label it “fashion”. Because the label’s output is not driven by trends, but by a timeless style that continues to look good and remain relevant season after season, year after year. From simple plain t-shirts to casual shirts – they are all exemplary things manufactured to the highest standards. Also note the signature Nehru coats.
Biarritz is arguably one of the most stylish beach destinations in the world. It’s cool, laid back and full of character. It’s also home to Atalaye: a young brand that makes some of the best resort clothing we’ve ever seen.
Atalaye’s swim shorts are a perfect visual metaphor for their hometown in the Basque Country. They are stylish, relaxed, luxurious and bursting with personality. This is premium swimwear that justifies its price tag, and is the ideal complement to everything from a polo shirt and espadrilles to just a bare, bronzed torso.
Eastern-inspired prints are a common theme, so look out for bold designs and vibrant colors.
Good sunglasses are never a cheap purchase, but British eyewear brand Finlay helps bridge the gap between quality and affordability.
Each pair of Finlay shades is carefully crafted in the foothills of the Italian Alps, using techniques passed down through generations. The best part is that they are a breath of fresh air from the usual. These sunglasses have their own distinct personality and unlike most designer alternatives, they won’t leave a hole in your wallet.
With prices starting at around £120, you can afford to grab a few pairs to get through the summer in style. And if you really want to make them special, you can also have them engraved with your initials.