Minimalist clothing cuts away the excess colour, pattern and print, relying on simplicity to do the talking. However, finding the right place to park your change has become a right ordeal in a market dominated by collab-frenzied designers and high street labels that dress their emaciated models like they’re extras on a Star Wars set.
Because we’re good people, we’ve done (most) of the hard work. Our twelve picks of minimalist brands will help you cut through the nonsense and bring your wardrobe back to a foundation of accessible, and embarrassment-proof fundamentals that help you do more with less. Because at the end of the day, no one wants to look back in ten years and think, ‘shit, did I really wear that?’
Here you’ll find cotton jersey sweatpants and cashmere hoodies for looking your best during blistering hangovers, and soft supima cotton polos for dressed-down summer looks. Make no mistake, Mr. Perse uses the most luxurious materials available, so don’t bank on a cheap shopping expedition if you walk into one of his stores or find yourself scrolling through Mr Porter after payday.
Mr Touitou’s journey through menswear hasn’t moved far beyond the fundamentals – tees, knits, denim, the odd bomber here and there – and his audience love him for it. A.P.C have resisted the showmanship of high-street fashion, and continue to generate a fiercely loyal underground following for their beloved selvedge denim and clean, unpretentious staples. They’re still on the luxury end of the scale, though, and are priced accordingly.
ACNE kit is about as Nordic as it gets: functional, unfussy, and probably more stylish than the obnoxious high-street experimental fashion could ever hope to be. You won’t find too many brand logos, graphics, or any loathsome marketing gimmicks. Their key items are jeans and leather jackets, and if your wardrobe needs a boost they do clean basic tees and shirts too. ACNE is a pricier entry-point into the minimalist world, but their influence and quality is such that there’s few other places we think you should start.
They leave Fashion Week prints, gimmicky patterns, and garish colourways to other labels, although their printed tees are a cult success. Look for essentials like pale blue cotton shirts, wool sweaters for winter, and a restrained colour palette overall that nods to their Danish roots. Their offerings are intended for all seasons wear, so expect to purchase investments that will see plenty of game time throughout the year. Norse Projects have dipped their toes in the collab pool, so keep an eye out for their joint sneaker project with Adidas among others.
You won’t be consigned to a single house cut either – there’s a few different shapes and lengths to keep things interesting. AS Colour are committed to ethical production and try to engage socially-responsible textile manufacturers and factories that offer liveable wages and conditions. They have a solid retail footprint of seven stores around the country and run multi-buy packages for those wardrobe-filling shopping expeditions.
Wooyoungmi rely on darker colour palettes – lots of charcoal, lots of black – and splice this with experimental, but sophisticated, prints and graphics. Despite occasionally defying their minimalist side, the essence of Wooyoungmi is on understated wardrobe fundamentals which can be tastefully worn across the spectrum of formality.
AMI offer something for everyone: heavy camel overcoats and tailoring for classic menswear buffs, and unfussy basics for the guy whose wardrobe starts and finishes with tees, sweats, and a comfortable hoodie. The linking feature between their collections is a neutral colour palette and uncomplicated design framework that eschews high-street experimentation and brash colourways that make us go ‘ew’.
Uniqlo’s pared back simplicity has created an enormous global following, and their accessible (i.e, ridiculously cheap) price point hasn’t hurt, either. Forever looking forward, the company has its heart set on aggressive expansion. Since 2014, they’ve opened twelve stores in Australia and it seems likely that this is not the end of their growing footprint down under.
They call to mind Nordic restraint, without losing their products in caricature. A quick look at their current collection reveals pima cotton jersey tees, henleys, shorts and sweats – the timeless cornerstones of an adaptable wardrobe. Their textile heritage comes with a price tag, but if you find you must replace your basic white tees and sweatpants every few months, Håndværk is worth the investment.
Simplicity dominates the Champ’s current collection. You’ll find athletics-inspired basics, and not much more. Think staple monotone tees, vintage drawstring shorts, hoodies and sweats. It doesn’t look out of place on the running track, but it works perfectly as part of a smart athleisure look. They don’t do bold, brash colours or wanky graphics. And for that, we’re pretty grateful.
They offer foundational items like button-downs, crew knits, polos, and jeans, preferring to let first-class craftsmanship and timeless simplicity do the talking. They do, however, charge a little over a hundred bucks for a tee. They aren’t by any means a cheap introduction to the minimalist thing. Regardless, Theory is a great wardrobe fundamentals brand for the guy who understands the need for resilient, durable basics that have more than a season of life in their seams.
Lemaire launched his first menswear collection in 1995 and now collaborates with fellow designer Sarah-Linh Tran on the collection. Together their brand of quietly understated tailoring focuses on the impeccably made essentials of men’s wardrobes combining knits, wide trousers, shirts and softly tailored coats in smooth and subtle shades.