Whether it’s dressing Bond, a monarch, or David Beckham, the British menswear circuit has done more than its fair share of introducing understated masculine style to a global audience. Britain is arguably the birthplace of menswear and the traditions of the past are still heavily ingrained in its menswear scene today.
While you might think the Brits are all about raincoats, stuffy clubrooms, and posh names that remind you of the guys who bullied you at rugby training, there’s much more to see than just the polished suits of Saville Row.
With a plethora of great British brands making cutting edge clothing for the modern man, we’ve put together a comprehensive list of the best British menswear brands you need to know about, ranging from the elder statesmen on Saville Row to the young and experimental.
Where They’re Made
Whilst British suiting pride themselves on being meticulously crafted in the United Kingdom, British menswear labels are a bit more lax when it comes to their clothing’s country of origin. That’s not to say that they’ve off-shored all manufacturing to Asia. Swimwear brands like Orlebar Brown still make their clothing in Portugal and England. Their materials meanwhile are sourced from Italy, France and Portugal.
For high-end labels like Belstaff who pride themselves on being British, their entire collection oddly isn’t made there any more — most of their products today are Italian made. For brands like Barbour, if there’s no country of origin on the label indicating U.K made then you can expect their products to be made in European regions like Turkey, Portugal and Bulgaria. Their biker jackets are still made in the U.K by third parties.
Even brands which are quintessentially British like Burberry have multiple countries of product origin. The iconic label has factories in China, Polan, Romania, India, Spain, Italy, England and the U.S.
Where To Buy Them From
We don’t live in the stone ages any more so you’ll be pleased to hear that many British menswear brands have online stores these days. If they don’t provide worldwide shipping you’re likely to find them through local distributors, albeit at slightly higher prices. Beyond that your best bet is to hit up online stores like ASOS, MR. PORTER, SSENSE, End Clothing, YOOX and Everlane.
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Private White VC
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.
The brand 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 tends to stick to a neutral colour palette, making their basics versatile enough to slot in and out of every outfit.
Is there anything more that needs to be said? If it's good enough for them, it's good enough for you.
Reiss offers men both casual and formalwear, with modern tailored two-piece suits and a grasp of British style that’s geared towards the younger and 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.
N Peal has been the choice of cardigans and jumpers for James Bond as well as several other heavy-hitting celebrities like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Marilyn Monroe and the Princess of Monaco.
Their designs marry quintessential British looks with hints of Scandinavian influence to create ultra-functional, minimalistic clothing for everyone. Made in the UK, with a strong emphasis on production quality, their garments will last a lifetime.
Their reputation rests on the laurels of their enduringly popular waxed cotton jackets which are as relevant now as they were in decades past. Barbour isn’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 offers a garment repair service, working on over 100,000 jackets annually. So if you buy a jacket in now, there’s every chance you’ll still be wearing it in a decade or more.
Originally famous for their innovative use of waxed, waterproof cotton, Belstaff has come a long way since and has a range of clothing and accessories that are luxurious yet rugged.
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 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.
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. Nowadays, 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.
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.
Gieves & Hawkes
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.
Orlebar Brown answered the cries of men who were fed up with long, fratboy boardies, 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 other serious tailoring brands.
If you want to make getting sunburnt by the pool a luxury experience, a pair of Orlebar Brown boardies is a stylish step in the right direction.