Artisan Menswear Is About Product First
The apparel game is changing. Forget luxury fluff or mass-produced fashion. It’s all about words like ‘well-made’, ‘artisanal’, ‘crafted’, and even ‘sustainable’. For the discerning menswear consumer, long-staple cottons and Italian-woven fabrics are more relevant than trendy and expensive seasonal collections. It’s about quality menswear made for the long-haul.
Yes, the industry has finally embraced the artisan mindset. One where a brand will vertically integrate everything so you can even get to know the person who sheared the sheep used to make your merino wool henley shirt. That’s direct-to consumer at its finest. Very artisan. Very transparent.
For the most part though, big labels with monster marketing budgets still run the industry, but with a stronger focus on quality and responsible manufacturing, and a re-surfaced value on the ‘maker’, the whole concept of ‘small-batch’ is now big biz. Artisan menswear brands are at the forefront of an industry renaissance where product integrity is valued greater than brand hype.
We always say that making premium menswear is art. Whether formal or on the casual tip, there are brands around the world, from here in the U.S., to Europe and Japan, who are using traditional techniques, progressive manufacturing methods, and primo materials to make exceptional apparel.
When we cop an item from one of our favorite brands, there is a moments where we just reflect and appreciate the construction and materials that went into the garment. You feel the fabric, admire the stitching, notice the heavy duty hardware, and even read the ‘made in’ label. All to appreciate the story behind your new gear before carefully hanging it in your wardrobe.
With the evolution of retail and a changing taste in consumer preferences, there is more ‘good apparel’ out there. It’s nice to walk down the street and see a Filson outpost, and then Shinola Detroit on the next block, and possibly a boutique retailer like Self Edge, who curates some of the best Japanese denim brands on the planet, across from our favorite cafe.
Why is all this important? Because simply, the gear just looks better and is made to last. It’s what we call investment apparel. Sure, the price is higher, but it’ll become a staple in the wardrobe. A high-quality t-shirt or a premium pair of chinos are garments that can serve a wide variety of occasions and keep us looking fresh. If made properly, we really just need a few in the rotation.
In our modernized global landscape, it’s about brands who actually care about the quality and ecological impact of their collections. And since making apparel still involves so many participants (like the natural resources, textile mills, cut-and-sew, and designers), brands need to focus on each aspect of the supply chain to ensure quality and transparency.
Fair Trade certified. Made with Supima cotton. Woven in Japan. Designed for the long haul. These are a few attributes that create the concept of ‘artisan’ in garment manufacturing. They are also pre-requisites for well-made gear that will stay in rotation and get better with age. You may not know the name of the person who made your joggers, but you can still be assured that the manufacturing journey was progressive and done by people who care.
We feel it’s more of a mindset or, let us say, a philosophy in garment making. The concept of ‘artisanal’ has gotten big in many industries, and it’s time we realize the relevance in menswear as well.
Craft is elevating our tastes in coffee, chocolate, jewelry, cosmetics, and even furniture, and in these modern times, even our wardrobes as well.
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