Which men’s fashion brands are the most popular in the world of style today? With a commitment to excellent design, tailoring and manufacturing, these leading menswear brands will give you a fashion fix for life.
1. Ralph Lauren
A luxury lifestyle brand like no other, Polo Ralph Lauren tops the men’s fashion brand charts (especially in the USA) in male wear. Ralph Rueben Lifshitz (aka Ralph Lauren) did not attend fashion school, but worked for Brooks Brothers as a salesman in the early sixties. In 1967, with the financial backing of a friend, Lauren opened a necktie store where he also sold ties of his own design, under the label “Polo.” In 1970, Ralph Lauren won the COTY Award for his menswear line. Around that same time he released a line of women’s suit that were tailored in a classic men’s style, which was when the first Polo emblem was seen. It was on the cuff of the women’s suit. Ralph Lauren, released Polo’s famous short sleeve mesh shirt with the Polo logo in 1972. It came out in 24 colors and soon became a classic. He also gained recognition for his design after he was contracted to provide clothing styles for the movie The Great Gatsby. The rest is history.
Today, Ralph Lauren is a US-based sought-out brand preferred by many men for its quality, design and chic, high-end fashion. In 2009, Ralph Lauren reportedly had a market value of $11 billion. www.ralphlauren.com.
Vibrant, bred in Italy and a firm favorite with men around the world, Diesel’s clothing is aimed at the young adult market, particularly its jeans, but the brand can now be found on everything from underwear to fragrance. Diesel’s innovative approaches to fashion and art includes endorsing young creativity by sponsoring the Diesel-U-Music Contest and the Sundance Film Festival as well as being the first clothing company to market their clothing in video games. www.diesel.com/collection.
3. Calvin Klein
CK is a popular for its mad style amongst most fashion conscious guys. From sportswear, to denim and underwear, the CK brand is iconic and has made huge strides in the world of designer brands. Think of the fragrance line alone – ‘Eternity’, ‘Obsession’ and ‘CK One’ – each a stand-alone brand in itself. Calvin Klein’s underwear business, promoted in the 1990s with giant billboards showing images of pop singer “Marky Mark” – now actor Mark Warlberg – was so successful that the brand’s underpants became generally known as “Calvins” in everyday lexicon. As of 2008, Calvin Klein’s proceeds stood at $5.8 billion. www.calvinklein.com.
This Italian brand is a top men’s fashion luxury line which claims a wide share of the global market. The trademark striped webbing on their leather goods has been just one of many clever innovations that have come from the inspirational house of Gucci. Founded in 1921 by Guccio Gucci, the brand has gone through a thousand and one evolutions, from fame to shame, from true design to fighting knock-offs and from family roots to deep rivalry. “In the 1960s and 1970s, Gucci had been at the pinnacle of chic, thanks to icons such as Audrey Hepburn, Grace Kelly and Jacqueline Onassis. But by the 1980s, Gucci had lost its appeal, becoming a tacky airport brand.” Vanity Fair editor Graydon Carter. However a turnaround of the company was devised in the late 1980s and has since made Gucci one of the world’s most influential fashion houses – it was recently named one of the best classic garment dealers in the world and sported an ample $4.5 billion in earnings in 2009.
* Useless fact – Guinness World Records cites Gucci’s “Genius Jeans” as the most expensive jeans in the world. A pair of Gucci jeans that had been distressed, ripped and covered with African beads, when they debuted in October 1998 in Milan, were priced at US $3,134. www.gucci.com.
5. Burberry Prorsum
Founded by 1856 by Thomas Burberry, a 21-year-old former draper’s apprentice, Burberry Prorsum is today a deluxe British-owned fashion corporation, popular for its clothing, fragrances and fashion accessories. The brand’s distinctive tartan pattern, a type of plaid pattern, has become one of its most widely copied trademarks of all time including the Burberry Equestrian Knight Logo with the Latin word “Prorsum”, (def: forwards) developed in 1901. In 1911 the brand became the outfitters for Roald Amundsen, the first man to reach the South Pole, and Ernest Shackleton, who led a 1914 expedition to cross Antarctica. A Burberry gabardine jacket was worn by George Mallory on his ill-fated attempt on Mount Everest in 1924. In 1914 Burberry was commissioned by the War Office to adapt its officer’s coat to suit the conditions of contemporary warfare, resulting in the “trench coat”. After the war, the trench coat became popular with civilians.
The iconic Burberry black, white, red and tan check was created in the 1920s and used as a lining in its trench coats. Today, the Burberry Prorsum brand is well-known for using British celebrities in its advertising, including models Kate Moss, and most recently actress Emma Watson, who was named the face of Burberry’s 2009 Fall/Winter campaign. Burberry accrued sales of $1.125 billion in 2009, 25% of which resulted from the American market. www.burberry.com.
According to Greek mythology, Nike was the goddess who personifies victory and today, the Nike “swoosh” logo is universally recognised as a symbol of “triumph”. Founded in 1964 as Blue Ribbon Sports by Bill Bowerman and Philip Knight, Nike is the world’s leading supplier of athletic shoes and apparel and a major manufacturer of sports equipment with revenue in excess of $19.2 billion USD in the 2009 fiscal year .
Positioned as a premium-brand, selling well-designed and expensive products, Nike lures customers with a marketing strategy centered on a carefully protected “urban fashion” brand image popular in the youth, chav and hip hop cultures, and via sponsorship agreements with celebrity athletes, professional teams and college athletic teams. Nike’s brands include Nike Golf, Nike Pro, Nike+, Air Jordan, Nike Skateboarding and subsidiaries including Cole Haan, Hurley International, Umbro and Converse. In addition to manufacturing sportswear and equipment, the company operates retail stores under the Niketown name. Nike also teamed up recently with Apple Inc. to produce the Nike+ product which monitors a runner’s performance via a radio device in the shoe which links to the iPod nano. www.nike.com.
7. True Religion
This fast growing, trend setting and street edgy American premium clothing line, was established in 2002 by Jeffrey Lubell and co-founder Kym Gold when it debuted denim products from their LA base.
Recognized for its t-shirts, western styled shirts, sweatshirts and sweatpants all containing the western vintage feel, True Religion is a premium brand – its jeans can range between US$250–$300. Recently the company has begun branching into new products such as footwear, headwear, handbags, swimwear, eyewear, and fragrance and today they have around 900 branded boutiques and specialty stores in 50 countries on 6 continents. Their 2008 revenue figures came in at USD $270 million and in 2009, True Religion generated world net sales of $311 million. “I believe!! I believe!! Hallelujah, I believe!!” www.truereligionbrandjeans.com.
8. Hugo Boss
HUGO BOSS is a German fashion and lifestyle house based in Metzingen that specializes in high-end mens- and womenswear. With a 2009 revenue of €1.562 billion, Hugo Boss has become a fashion behemoth, and its products can be found today at nearly 6,100 outlets in 110 countries and the parent company owns around 330 retail stores with another 1,000 stores run by its franchisees.
The HUGO BOSS offering comes in two core brands – ‘Boss’ with various lines and ‘Hugo’ that offer business appropriate clothing, everyday wear, shoes, bags, watches, and fragrances. The main line, Boss Black, is intended as mature fashion for both business and social events, while Boss Orange aims to target the opposite audience with bright colors, metal-coloured clothing, and everyday items made from high quality materials, such as full-length skirts, not commonly considered suitable for the business-casual workplace, made from 100% silk.
The company however has a chequered history – its founder Hugo Boss started his clothing company in 1924 in Metzingen, a small town south of Stuttgart. Forced into bankruptcy in 1930, Hugo set up a new business and in 1931 became a member of the Nazi party with whose support he prospered, supplying of uniforms to the SS and Hitler Youth. With the defeat of Germany in 1945, Boss was charged with being sympathetic to the Nazi cause, stripped of his voting rights, and fined 80,000 marks. He died in 1948 but his business survived, and so today, we enjoy the fruit of his labour. www.hugoboss.com
Recently celebrating 20 years of design, the original brand was founded by Domenico Dolce and Stefano Gabbana, and is more formal and ‘timeless’ than it’s younger, more flamboyant little brother D&G – a slightly more casual line that follows an urban inspiration and attempts to set trends rather than follow them. The design house describes itself as “new luxury, authentic and unconventional – a style that expresses new forms of elegance, presenting itself as a modern classicism” and is known for its geometric and dark approach to fashion. www.dolcegabbana.com.
Ranked as one of the world’s leading menswear brands, Armani is an Italian luxury fashion which has a faithful male following who appreciate the clean, tailored lines of each collection. Giorgio Armani formed his company in 1975, and by 2001 was acclaimed as the most successful designer to come out of Italy, with the business making an annual turnover of $1.6 billion, and a Giorgio enjoying a personal fortune of $5.3 billion. Innovative and future forward, Armani was the first designer to ban models with a body mass index (BMI) under 18. The Armani Privé spring/summer 2007 fashion show was broadcast via MSN and Cingular cellular phones and after LG teamed with Prada to introduce the LG Prada phone, Samsung joined Armani to design the Giorgio Armani phone. Armani designed made-to-measure suits for Christian Bale’s character Bruce Wayne in The Dark Knight. Soon, ads featuring “Giorgio Armani for Bruce Wayne” were released with pictures of Christian Bale wearing Armani suits. However, Bale later claimed in a GQ interview that the campaign was produced without his permission.
Armani has established approximately 2,000 stores worldwide with a yearly revenue of around $1 billion. www.emporioarmani.com.
Other mentionables not on the list are Prada Pour Homme, Harley Davidson Clothing and Ed Hardy – each iconic, each with a distinctive male offering. Get out there, check them ALL out for yourself, you won’t regret the investment.
Annmicha Blugh, Break Studios Contributing Writer, www.mademan.com
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