No doubt America’s influence on menswear looms large, with brands that are more like full-blown lifestyles than mere clothing labels, but if there’s one thing people in fashion are obsessed with, it’s what’s next. Luckily, there’s no shortage of labels that are both honoring America’s rich history of menswear design—and steadfastly moving it into the future. Here’s a sampling of the brands—from upstarts to familiar faces who’ve already built a sizable imprint—that prove when it comes to American fashion, the future is bright.
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Billy Reid |1998
After almost 20 years in the business—and a prestigious 2001 CFDA award for Best New Menswear Designer under his belt—Billy Reid is hardly a newbie. Still, his ruggedly sophisticated aesthetic, informed by his childhood growing up in Louisiana, feels both fresh and familiar. Today, he splits his time between New York and Alabama and his brand reflects that dichotomy of rural charm and urban elegance, and is all the better for it.
In many ways the grandfather of today’s slouchy-meets-sophisticated look, Steven Alan started with his own store and showroom, before he took his menswear know-how and imparted it on dude basics, coming up with a new genre of perfectly rumpled, expertly lived-in basics readymade for the newly developing creative class. Today his button-up shirts, preppy-cool outerwear, and relaxed tailoring is a hit with guys all around the world. “To me, it always goes back to product,” he told the New York Times last year. “How do we elevate the product instead of creating a cheaper product?”
Designed by Eunice Lee—a rare, but welcome, female presence in the menswear scene — this downtown New York brand is known for its pitch-perfect details and subtle way with construction and fit. Looking for a pair of khakis that turns heads without splashy graphics or bold colors? Unis has ‘em. It’s a go to label for creative types and celebrities (hi Aziz Ansari!), and should you try on one of the expertly-cut chinos or button-ups, you’ll immediately understand why.
In the 15 years since Rag & Bone was founded, it’s become an enormous enterprise, known for mixing British tailoring with more relaxed American style. The result is clothing that feels familiar but modern, with a slight bit of rock ’n’ roll edge. The brand, and its designer Marcus Wainwright, has crafted an aesthetic that is undoubtably handsome but in a low-key, everyday sort of way, and can fit into many men’s wardrobes. The result? You can find R&B in all corners of this planet, from their own boutiques to big department stores and beyond, an impressive feat for such a short amount of time.
Originally launched in Brooklyn’s uber-hip Williamsburg neighborhood, Oak reflected its origins in a draped, oversized aesthetic that felt like Rick Owens’ slightly less eccentric cousin. Still, there’s a rebellious energy to the brand, which was purchased by American Apparel before co-founders Louis Terline and Jeff Madalena bought it back in 2015. Today, the brand runs four shops which serve as stark, gallery-like spaces to house the its ever-evolving mix of gothic-meets-urban styles.
Designer Daiki Suzuki remixes outdoorsy Americana through a distinctly Japanese point-of-view—he grew up in Japan in the '70s—and that obsession with classic US tropes has been made into clothing that #menswear fans can’t get enough of. Patchwork, madras, garish, clashing colors, utilitarian pieces tricked out with extra pockets or made with super special fabrics are all touchstones of the brand, which elevate archetypical pieces into must-haves.
Predicated on “purposeful” menswear basics that emphasize utility and comfort, Save Khaki traffics in pieces that look like they’ve been in your closet for years. Pants feel pre-washed and shirts look cozy enough to curl-up in, and that’s the whole point. Additionally, everything is produced in the USA, which helps lend it that American insouciance.
The bespectacled and impressively bearded designer Greg Chait built The Elder Statesman on the idea of incredibly plush and luxurious cashmere pieces, designed with a lived-in, sensual energy. The Los Angeles-based brand is a reflection of its environs, influenced by skate, surf, and SoCal’s built-in haute hippie culture. The result is weird and beautiful, from tie-dyed sweaters to striped blankets to dreamy hooded pullovers readymade for an evening spent at a beach bonfire.
Sarah Yarborough and Victor Lytvinenko consider Raleigh Denim Workshop, based in the North Carolina city of the same name, an “art project/romantic adventure/American enterprise” which focuses on making quality denim. They alight their wares with the food world’s “farm to table” movement (as opposed to fast food and fast fashion). The results are sturdy and handsome, classic fits that could fit into any man’s closet, and are definitely worth the wait. And because they make other menswear essentials, like chore coats, button down shirts, and denim jackets, you could damn well fill your whole closet with pieces from this brand.
The Brooklyn-based duo Abe Burmeister and Tyler Clemens release small-batch items in weekly “drops,” allowing them to experiment and create a limited-edition appeal to many of their pieces. But the real excitement lays in their sporty, performance-driven designs. They have an ability to fuse an urban aesthetic with more athletic elements, making for the ultimate crossover that predates athleisure but is still deeply relevant for fashion’s current anything goes, genre-crossing state of affairs.
What started out as a sleepy surf brand almost a decade ago, designed by a trio of friends—Morgan Collett, Colin Tunstall, and Josh Rosen—has grown into a global phenomenon and advanced far beyond the color-blocked board shorts and cheeky graphic tees on which it was founded. Now, they have everything from shoes to tailoring and even grooming, launched just this year. Add to this their in-house magazine, which lets them collaborate with their cadre of cool friends, and you’ve got a recipe for a label that attracts cool kids from all walks of life (not just beach bums or city slickers). All of which means they’re growing faster than you can say “clothing empire."
Being outside big cities like Los Angeles and New York City has been an advantage for Matt Baldwin and his wife, Emily, in designing their jean-centric line. There’s an intrinsic sense of fashion as part of daily life, where utilitarian details outweigh fantastical design elements. The result? Handsome clothing that has a timeless appeal. Since being founded, Baldwin has expanded into a full clothing line, imbuing the entire collection with the same attention to the smallest details, right down to the brand’s signature calling card the “KC” baseball cap, a breakout hit.
After working at American giants Tommy Hilfiger and Ralph Lauren, David Hart launched an eponymous line of neckwear in 2009, branching out to include ready-to-wear four years later. Hart’s work is gentlemanly and has a nostalgic bent, filled with details that honor the history and traditions of menswear—but with a mischievous wink. Hart’s dressy throwback oeuvre is a welcome break from the sweats-and-tees look that defines the day, and there’s something intrinsically joyful about ruffled tuxedo shirts, cheeky pin-up print pocket squares, Rat Pack-esque knit polo shirts, and fine gauge turtlenecks.
George Vlagos was the son of a cobbler, even apprenticing at his father’s shop. So when he launched his own American-made brand, it wasn’t just to help continue on not only his family’s legacy, but the history of craftsmanship in American, too. Focusing on classic styles ranging from loafers to boots to even belts and bags, this brand is forging a way for a new generation of homegrown manufacturing focusing on timeless, masculine leather goods.
A leader in the retail transparency and direct-to-consumer movements, Michael Preysman is the man behind Everlane, the incredibly popular brand that specializes in well-crafted, thoughtfully designed basics for men and women. By cutting out the middle man, Everlane delivers minimalist wardrobe staples with a Scandinavian design ethos and an understated European flair, but at incredibly affordable prices. It’s helped set the tone for a new genre of digital-native labels focused on socially responsible practices and high-quality design.
Launched in Los Angeles’ luxe-boho seaside neighborhood Venice Beach, the eyewear brand Garrett Leight started with just four styles, but has since come to be one of the most recognizable new eyewear brands in the game, with a full roster of designs. It's since outgrown Venice and moved downtown and opened flagship stores in New York and Los Angeles, all thanks to its unmistakably cool Cali aesthetic, funky and fun materials, attention to detail, and a slew of collaborations (Robert Geller, KITH, Want Les Essentials, to name a few). This is a label you want on your face, pronto.
Founded on the premise of bringing manufacturing jobs back to America, Detroit-based Shinola has built its reputation not only on its behind-the-scenes feel-good story, but its beautifully crafted collections of accessories, from bags and timepieces to bikes and small leather goods. The latest in their line of innovative projects is a pair of handsome headphones and a hotel opening in Detroit late 2018.
Snyder famously worked at Ralph Lauren, Gap, and then J. Crew, where he helped bring quality slim tailoring to the masses. He has since launched his own label, building upon the knowledge he acquired at that powerful triumvirate. Born and raised in Iowa, Snyder looks to Savile Row tailoring and collegiate gym classics to pepper his collection with a feeling of unfussy worldliness and sporty ease that is the beating heart of American style. Snyder also partners with other brands frequently—like New Balance, Timex, Champion, to name a few—creating a collaborative brand that already has an impressive reach. In 2016, he opened an impressive flagship on Madison Park in New York City (complete with a cafe, a barbershop, and a shoeshine station), cementing his rep as part of the new guard.
Based in Los Angeles, Elliott has managed to bridge high-fashion and streetwear with his often-copied aesthetic of slim sweats, ripped jeans, elongated shirts, and oversized hoodies. He’s a pioneer of the current athleisure-as-everyday style that’s prevalent from coast to coast. It’s a look that is practically the go-to uniform in certain parts of LA, popularized by LeBron James, Scott Disick, Kevin Hart, and Jay Z. Lately, the designer has been growing his collection to include outerwear, while a collaboration with Nike has made him a household name with sneaker heads.
Alex Drexler, son of former J.Crew CEO Mickey, built his line around the low-key cool-guy uniform: untucked button-up, slim (but not skinny) jeans, crewneck sweater, and simple yet attractive pieces of outerwear. It’s the uniform of the creative class—Drexler included—and he nails the way guys want to look: stylish yet unassuming, good looking almost by accident, not because they spent hours in front of the mirror. The outcome is pitch-perfect in its offhandedness and lack of attitude, living up to the brand’s motto: “Make it easy. Take it easy.”
In just four short years, designer Kerby Jean-Raymond has made a big impression, taking streetwear styles and athletic uniforms and rendering them in high-quality fabrics all made in New York City. Jean-Raymond also is known for injecting motifs relating to political and social activism into his clothing, making his work feel timely and vital. This year he was asked to participate in MoMA’s “Is Fashion Modern?” exhibition, proving he’s a designer who has sights beyond just making clothes that look good—though he does do just that.
As skate culture crests in menswear, Brendon Babenzien, formerly of Supreme, stepped in to offer a grown-up riff on the streetwear aesthetic, one that focuses on cultural (and aesthetic) cross-pollination, a mash-up of music, skating, and cool-kid styling. The result is the leading element of the emerging nouveau skater category, with blazers, graphic tees, workwear pants, kooky button-ups, and clever knits all hanging beautifully next to each other and made from fabrics sourced from the finest mills and crafted in factories by artisans. The brand's goal is to fuse “quality, integrity, and originality.” Mission accomplished.
Inspired by his research for the book Rowing Blazers, archaeologist Jack Carlson took classic British and Ivy League iconography and gave it a post-modern, punk twist, creating a line that’s irreverent, playful and even rebellious, and yet still fits nicely into the menswear canon. His blazers, made in New York City, come in bold stripes or decked out with eye-catching contrasting trims, while shirts are distressed and sometimes embroidered with collegiate motifs. It’s the perfect thing for the menswear nerd looking for something new and unexpected.