Whether it’s dressing Bond, a monarch, or David Beckham, the British menswear circuit has done more than its fair share bringing understated, masculine style to a global audience.
And while you might think the Brits are all about raincoats, stuffy clubrooms, and posh names that remind you of the guys that bullied you at rugby training in high school, there’s much more to see than just Saville Row.
Here, we’ve put together a master list of the 20 best British brands you need to know about in 2018, ranging from the elder statemen on Saville Row to the young and untested.
Gieves & Hawkes
Gieves and Hawkes have an impeccable CV that spans some two hundred years and a client list to match. These guys originated in London in 1771 as military and establishment tailors, and earned not one but three Royal Warrants (not an easy thing) in the process.
While they might outfit former heads of state and celebrated sportsmen like David Beckham, mere plebs like us can still access a strong made to measure and bespoke program that’ll have you leaving their plush London headquarters feeling like you should be a leading face in the next 007.
Founded in 1979 and operated to this day by the dashing Jeremy Hackett, Hackett offers classic ready-to-wear tailoring with the maturity you’d only expect from the elders of the Saville Row establishment.
His emphasis is on the classic workhorses of a masculine wardrobe, allowing you to build a full complement of suits, shirts and ties for the corporate nine-to-five. Their latest spring collection includes lighter knits, gilets, and casual jackets, but you won’t see novelty prints or clever pop culture nods anywhere here.
Hackett is for the guy that wants British understatement without the musty sartorial cobwebs you tend to associate with Saville Row. They’re great for a mature, but contemporary wardrobe.
British tailoring always carries a sense of history, and Burton is no exception. Founded in 1903 by an ambitious 18 year old with a small family loan, Burton now has over four hundred stores and a huge online retail footprint.
A menswear all-rounder, Burton’s best quality is accessibility. They make suits for the tall, bulky or skinny, and none of it will cost you an arm and a leg. Everything you see has long-term mileage, and doesn’t look hideous after a season.
So if you need a new corporate wardrobe or refresh and you need it now, Burton’s the way to go.
In a world of cyclical fashions and nasty runway features that look out of fashion before they hit the store, Cos offer a bit of calm and stability.
The ethos here is pretty simple: year-round wardrobe pieces that look good today and in the years ahead.
You’ll find classics with modern, functional purpose: shirts, chinos, harrington jackets, beachwear, even casual suits – all linked by simple colourways and good design.
Launched in 1971, Reiss have captured a loyal following of guys who always need that next shirt, tie, or knit.
Reiss offer men both casual and formalwear, with modern, tailored two-piece suits and a grasp of British style that’s geared towards the younger, more sartorially progressive gent.
Their white shirts are a staple and you can’t go wrong with any of their navy suits for a job interview or fraught in-laws dinner. You’ll find them in David Jones and we wouldn’t be surprised if their retail footprint grows in 2018.
Private White V.C
Private White VC is named after a guy who’s story will probably make you feel inadequate AF.
Fortunately, their clothes are designed to have the opposite effect. They offer a range of hardwearing, functional casualwear but it’s their jackets – bombers, motorcycle jackets, and raincoats – that hold our attention.
Their production standards are hard to beat – each garment passes through 21 pairs of hands during the process and it’s all done from a factory in Manchester. You can probably tell by now that Private White VC is all about continuity, and with the original White’s grandkids still running the show, we’re pretty sure that’s the way it will stay.
Everyone wants a Burberry coat – period. Burberry have some serious historical mileage behind them, from outfitting British officers in WWI to their presence today as runway stalwarts.
The trench coat is a small, but distinctive part of their offering and you’ll be able to find luxury fragrances, scarves, and bags in 2018. If we had a choice, we’d see you walk out the door with one of their their camel trenches.
They never, ever go out of style, and the countless imitations on the market don’t do them justice. If there’s anything to save up for in 2018, it’s this.
If you ever felt the need to dress like part of London’s upper crust, Dunhill plays the part. Dunhill serve the club-and-golfcourse crowd from their prestigious Mayfair real estate, offering a suite of custom tailoring options in addition to ready to wear jackets, suits, shirts, and more casual options.
They even have a barber and in-house cinema for those inclined (but we’re more interested in the clothes). Dunhill offers classic British style that falls on the more conservative and masculine end of the scale. They’re for the older, more established gent or the younger one aspiring to get there.
It should be no surprise that British menswear come with history that’s hard to match. Founded in 1894, Barbour is no exception.
Their reputation rests on the laurels of their enduringly popular waxed cotton jackets, which are as relevant in 2018 as they were in decades past. Barbour aren’t just a one trick pony, and you’ll be able to find gilets, motorcycle jackets, and casual polos and trousers in recent collections.
Barbour offer a garment repair service, working on over 100,000 jackets annually. So if you buy a jacket in 2018, there’s every chance you’ll still be wearing it in a decade or more.
Oliver Spencer are young as far as British menswear goes, launching in 2002, but we can’t hold that against them.
Oliver Spencer tastefully update masculine classics like bomber jackets, staple white shirts, and knitwear, giving them a modern, tailored look without taking any short cuts across design and manufacturing. Their latest 2018 collection hints at some 70’s influences and we’re keeping an aspirational eye on their corduory bombers and retro crewneck knits.
Owning and enjoying a luxury leather bag is a bucket list item for most of us here at D’Marge.
Mulberry’s aesthetic is inconspicuous but masculine, eschewing garish colours and prints in favour of a strong design ethos and a subdued palette. Their holdalls are the sort of timeless purchases with enduring value that you could pass onto your kids, and they’ve recently stepped up their accessories game, giving you solid gifting options through 2018. Mulberry are a buy once, buy right brand, but if you can see past the pricing you will never look back.
‘The quirky Brit tailor that likes funny patterns’ doesn’t quite do Paul Smith justice. A menswear heavyweight, Paul Smith redesigns classic British tailoring with a bold eye for colour and prints, without cutting any corners during the design process.
He’s an advocate for wool and tailoring heritage, but doesn’t let that get in the way of a cheeky print or jab at Saville Row’s stuffy pretentions. In 2018, Paul Smith is exploring subdued, light outwear in contrast to his characteristic boldness: floral printed knits and espadrilles, tailored swimwear, and a whole lot of orange, everywhere.
Have a look at his wool bombers and don’t feel afraid to slot a floral tie into your rotation.
Not many brands can say that they’re identifiable from a moment’s glance, but Alexander McQueen is definitely one of them.
In 2018, McQueen’s menacing skull and bones imagery isn’t going anywhere, and you’ll probably see a growth of skull embroidery in addition to wardrobe heavyweights like plain navy blazers and black tuxedos. It doesn’t look like new management has changed what Alexander McQueen is all about, so if your wardrobe needs a bit of gothic imagery meets serious tailoring, you’ve probably found it.
John Smedley is another venerable British label clocking in at over 200 years of service.
Established in 1784, they do simple, versatile knits like your crewnecks, shawl cardigans, and wool henleys in a subdued palate of primarily blues and greys. Most pieces are pure merino wool and made in the UK. Our favourite is the navy turtleneck, which is a solid investment for the upcoming chill.
Most guys don’t put ‘luxury’ and ‘bathers’ in the same basket, so thankfully we have Orlebar Brown to make it a thing.
Orlebar Brown answered the cries of men who were fed up with long, fratboy boarides, replacing them with smart, tailored shorts that you could probably wear out on the town. They encompass both plain, versatile patterns and novelty prints, and are as carefully made as ‘serious’ tailoring.
So if you want to make getting sunburnt by the pool a luxury experience, a pair of Orlebar Brown boardies is a stylish (but pricey) step in the right direction.
Based in the shirtmaking stronghold of Jermyn Street, London, Emma Willis is an undersold feature of British menswear.
Founded in 1989 and exclusively made in the UK, you won’t see any of Paul Smith’s boldness or Alexander McQueen’s gothic drama – it’s all about simple corporate menswear that gets the job done for the nine to five.
Accessories are another strong feature in 2018, ranging from pocket hankies to ties and dressing gown’s that’ll make you reconsider getting dressed for work on Monday.
Sir Hardy Amies’ namesake label fell into obscurity after failing to keep pace with the times, but a recent post-bankruptcy reboot in 2009 has let a bit of fresh air into the brand and added some contemporary undertones to the name.
You’ll still find classic tailored pieces like navy and charcoal suits, white shirts, and boardroom-friendly ties, but in slimmer, tailored cuts and weaves for a younger, less conservative audience.
It’s all about keeping up with the changing tastes of the market without forgetting where it all started, and Hardy Amies’ new branding has done exactly that.
Like Gieves & Hawkes, Smythson have three Royal Warrants and a prestigious clientelle across royalty, film and politics.
Longevity and timelessness are at the core of Smythson’s range, values reflected in their use of the best leather available, and personalised craftsmanship – you won’t see any dodgy bonded leather or sweatshop work here.
Smythson might be a hard sell if you just got your foot on the ladder and have to borrow suits from your old man, but these leather watch cases and full-grain holdalls are just too damn nice to miss.
Grenson are one of the last, greatest, Northhampton shoemakers. They trace their history to 1866, and still compete in the shoemaking market from their Northampton factory, employing dozens of craftsmen.
Grenson are famous for hardy, Goodyear-welted shoes that can be resoled periodically, and if we’re honest with you, these are better than some of their pricier competitors. They service every preference from classic oxfords to boots, but their brogues capture the most attention from footwear punters.
Grenson don’t break the bank like other Northhampton brands and if you look after your them, they’ll see you (and your feet) through decades of hard wear.
Sunspel makes its home in premium basics, an area of the market that’s easy to overlook.
Sunspel made some of the first premium underwear in Britain in 1860, and spearheaded the introduction of boxer shorts in the 1940’s. They’ve since broadened their horizons in a big way, with everything from merino knitwear to swim shorts and tees for summer.
Sunspel tend to stick to a neutral colour palette, making their basics versatile enough to slot in and out of every outfit.