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The rise of online menswear giant Bonobos as a serious competitor to J.Crew was predicated on a piece of waistband technology that allows for a perfect fit. Thanks to its “manly” marketing, offering solutions to frustrated and pained shoppers, Bonobos now claims to be the “largest clothing company ever built on the web in the US.”
J.Crew and Bonobos’s selection for no-frills garments are pretty much unparalleled, but variety is important. You know these brands; now, let’s find you some more options. Here are a few ideas if you’re looking to branch out.
If you're in the market for "functional" items you didn't even know existed, like the K2 Scuba Mountain Boot ($495) that’s actually "intended for everyday wear," then LA’s James Perse is your man. His menswear is thoroughly West Coast, and provides a refined perspective on casual wear.
The American shirtmaker’s history goes back to the ‘40s. But in the last 12 years, under creative director Christopher Bastin, its Rugger line has become particularly popular. The prices are fairly reasonable, and the clothes, with relevant twists on the traditional preppy-college vibe, contain a lot of personality.
The “Permanents” line from Officine Générale features modest but meticulous button-down oxfords, trousers, sweats, and Japanese selvedge denim. Smart shirts like this one ($265) are “made in Europe in the most ethical way from Italian, British and Japanese fabrics, offered at fair prices.”
Still only in its fourth year, the LA-based label John Elliott “started with basic categories and focused on creating functional yet modern fits with unique fabrics.” If this sounds like every other shop in the world, it’s worth having a look at the brand’s waxed suede combat boots ($498) or black striped alpaca sweaters ($325).
The NN is for No Nationality, and fittingly, the Copenhagen label’s look is Scandinavian but not too Scandinavian. NN07’s outerwear is particularly on point; the “Aaron” overcoat looks pricier than its $495 tag, while the waterproof car coat ($400) also hits the mark of stylish yet practical simplicity.
With the credo “transparency from fiber to finished garment,” Fanmail specializes in organic cotton and hemp staples with designs bearing a strong heritage element. The muted palettes and traditional elements are complemented by contemporary fits — the brand’s boxy tees and raglan shirts have sleeves that come to the elbow, for instance. Fanmail’s lineup is more select than some, with a focus on monochrome tees and sweats. But items like the thermal sweaters ($170) are striking enough to do double duty as casual Friday and weekend wear.
The brand Hartford was born of a French obsession with Americana, with reference points from the ‘50s, ‘60s, and ‘70s. Its tagline is “alternative classics,” and Hartford offers all the grays, blues,
and blue-grays you can handle. The brand make shirts that can pass muster at the office but also have casual and classic pieces, like this camel sweatshirt ($150).
The Tokyo brand takes its cues from military and workwear classics but offers a wide selection, from basics to bold pieces, all obsessively designed. The label’s “crazy check” and “patchwork check” shirts ($279) are refreshing and eye-catching (and, sure, a little bit crazy). Beams is big enough in Japan to have scored exclusive collaborations with Adidas Originals and The North Face, among others.
If it isn’t already, Folk should be a go-to source. The London company stocks everything from sweats to suiting with understated but exacting aesthetics. The brand also presents more than one take within a category; for instance, you can choose trousers cut above the ankle or the traditional kind. This rust sweater ($175) is a current top pick.