Not all brands are created equal. As with cars, watches and fancy homes, the word ‘designer’ is often misused in clothing. Nowadays, designer fashion represents clever craftsmanship, quality fabrics and of course, a blood-rushing aesthetic that makes you have to have that thing, even if it takes your entire paycheck.
Which is why we’ve taken the shoddy away from the sleek, to give you a definitive guide to men’s designer fashion brands this season. Buy one or two, or buy them all (ca-ching!) — just don’t go dressing yourself head to toe in designer logo-ed pieces. That’s trashie, and it’s a style sin.
#1 TOM FORD
Sexy, smooth yet madly masculine, American designer Tom Ford is known for his precision. Balancing the quintessential with the avant-garde, Ford’s incredibly cut dinner jackets and tuxedos are his calling card, coming in a myriad of colours and prints. Or simple-and-chic, black. He also boasts a mean grooming line for men, too. Pucker up.
The Italian maison has undergone one of the most drastic directional shifts since Milanese designer, Alessandro Michele, took over the creative director helm in 2015. Nowadays, Gucci is challenging archetypal menswear, offering an eclectic and very romantic feel. But, its Italian craftsmanship and attention to detail, starkly remains.
#3 NEIL BARRETT
Britain’s Neil Barrett cut his design teeth at Prada and Gucci in the nineties, before jumping fashion ship and launching his namesake label in 1999. Contemporary graphics — like the lightning bolt — and monochrome hues painted over minimalist style essentials in quality fabrics, are his forte. As is, the leather jacket.
#4 THOM BROWNE
American designer Thom Browne steeps his collections in tailoring, hallmarked by a distinct grey which dusts-up most of his quality-made, contemporary suiting. Cropped trousers and embellished separates are another signature, as well as pebble-grain leather goods. But the TB moniker isn’t his initials, but rather, a navy, red and white stripe swatch that’s stitched onto the edge of his pieces.
A winning twin combination is behind Canadian fashion brand Dsquared2. Dan and Dean Caten’s tough yet heritage collections play on the North American nation and come as a blend of punch-y prints (think plaids), bold colours and add-ons of clothes, offering the gent an urban twist on a polished looks. Check out their jeans, embellished to ripped to plain, and luxury leather sneakers.
#6 DOLCE & GABBANA
Needing no introduction, the Silcian duo have continued to send out some of most iconic (and extensive) menswear collections down the runway since bowing in 1985. Dolce & Gabbana‘s famous monogram only stamps itself on sleek and luxurious pieces. You can’t look past their distinctly Italian collection of suits, impeccably cut and finished for work and the weekend.
The heritage down jacket maker has established itself as a fully-fledged European fashion heavyweight. At chez Moncler, innovative materials are combined with sporty silhouettes, for a Franco-Italiano spin on contemporary menswear. Check out their quilted outerwear – from blazers to gilets to full-blown hooded parkas with a fur trim. Brrr…
#8 LOUIS VUITTON
The darling of French luxury behemoth LVMH, Louis Vuitton knows what it means to be luxurious. What started out as a trunk maker in 19th-century Paris, Louis Vuitton now offers extensive tailoring and accessories, as well as riffing on a younger-gen cool with luxed-up sneakers and sophisticated streetwear pieces — thanks to LV’s head men’s designer, Kim Jones. But, it’s LV, so it’s still elegant.
More than 100 years since its 1913 debut, Prada has dressed Italian kings and adorned the backs of some of the most stylish celebs on the red carpet. As well as sharp suiting, Prada has ventured into chic athleisure and off-duty pieces, staying molto relevant under the fine eye of Miuccia Prada. Check out Prada’s casual button-ups and knits, and their reworking of classics such as the derby shoe.
#10 SALVATORE FERRAGAMO
The Italian maestro that is Salvatore Ferragamo now has a new design head, Guillaume Meilland. But the younger creative director still manages to capture Ferragamo’s rakish suiting and smart separates for an elevated but timeless approach to style. Come here for menswear staples like blazers, collared jackets and slim-fit trousers, but the devil is in Ferragamo’s details, with on-point tassel loafers and a leathergoods range that is hard to rival. Stock up.
#11 GIORGIO ARMANI
A style doyen in his own right, Giorgio Armani is one of Italy’s most-respected designers. Known in particular for his immaculate tailoring, you can’t overlook Armani’s marriage of expert craftsmanship and luxurious materials, which makes the Armani legacy top-notch. Lately, Armani has embraced the comfort themes in menswear: louche tailoring, and plush knits off-duty, with flawless suits for work.
Another maison of the Vieux Continent, Berluti‘s European heritage — which stems back to 1895 — hasn’t been lost with the appointment of the French brand’s new designer, Haider Ackermann. The Colombian-Parisian offers a sweet mix of distinguished accessories and ready-to-wear, but you can’t over look Berluti’s leather shoes, made from its iconic Venezia leather.
With claims to have invented the trench coat, Burberry is one of Britain’s most beloved fashion exports. Known for the Burberry plaid, this quintessentially-English brand is pushing sartorial boundaries with Christopher Bailey — putting off-kilter fabrics such as tech-wools and lace into the men’s fashion mix, as well as graphic prints. Don’t have Burberry scarf or trench yet? Sacrilege.
#14 COMME DES GARÇONS
With a French name, there’s a certain je ne sais quoi about the quirky Comme des Garçons. Japanese in fact, the luxury streetwear label was formed in 1969 by Tokyo’s Rei Kawakubo and has managed to stay culturally relevant thanks to a monochrome base augmented with rainbow-toned brights for a playful edge. As for tailoring, expect asymmetric cuts with Japanese-expert fabrics.
#15 DIOR HOMME
Dior Homme is one of the most well-rounded luxury brands for men. Traditional pieces revel in the label’s Parisian heritage while innovative shapes, thanks to the recently-departed design head Raf Simons, reflect the brand’s contemporary edge. Expect sleek silhouettes — like suits and topcoats and straight cut bottoms — polished with understated embellishment for a flattering finish. We like their sunnies too. Non, j’adore.