For the last two weeks, The Manual has been in New York City attending the men’s trade shows and Fashion Week.
Over this sartorially saturated fortnight, we had the privilege of taking a look at (and lovingly fondling) dozens of menswear, grooming, and fashion brands. From knitwear, to ties, to umbrellas, to shoes, we gorged ourselves on a veritable feast of fashion (and grooming and lifestyle) and came away feeling that menswear and grooming are really nailing it this season. We not only saw the classics (suits, ties, and sleek sneakers), but also some fashion-forward streetwear and some foreign brands we’d love to see more of in America.
So, without any further ado, we present the need-to-know men’s brands for 2017. You might want to keep these in the back of your mind when doing your spring wardrobe shopping.
Pens? Really? Yes. Because Ajoto makes some seriously, seriously great ones. Machined from brass or aluminum (and in several colors), these pens are solid in the hand–making them feel truly luxurious. Compared to a ball-point, these writing instruments are much sturdier and altogether way better looking. With a unique twist mechanism to bring out and retract the nib, you’ll never have to hear that annoying pen-click again. We were particularly smitten with the matte black version, but the brass came in a very close second.
Maak Lab produces some of the most unique soaps and candles we’ve seen. Oriented toward more masculine scents, Maak Lab’s wet and bar soaps and candles often smell like cedar, balsa wood, citrus, or ginger. Using only all-natural ingredients, including olive and coconut oils, these soaps are meant for the hands and body, but work great further afield when camping or backpacking. Most ingredients also come from local Pacific Northwest Farms, giving this brand a small carbon footprint. Their candles are made with natural beeswax and come in glass or ceramic containers.
This Spanish sneaker brand was a nice surprise when compared with all of the minimalist, neutral-colored low-tops we saw. Tending toward monochromatic finishes in leather and suede, Konkho’s color aesthetics are a refreshing departure from more recent sneaker color trends. Another interesting feature found in the brand is the ever-present large toe-cap on the shoes. This (often contrasting or tonally complimentary) design feature will likely become this brand’s signature look as it expands beyond Europe.
Hand-made in Austin, Texas, The Bearded Bastard’s line of beard oils, balms, and waxes can compete with any other high-end grooming outfit out there. Where The Bearded Bastard stands out is its attention to detail–using all-natural ingredients and making the product all in America with employees who are paid a living wage. With nine different scents and a whole slew of products, there’s something for every man at The Bearded Bastard.
For the more fashion adventurous out there, Post-Imperial might just be what you’re looking for. Making good use of large, bold patterns and colors, this menswear brand is making waves in the streetwear category. If you’re into looking bold, yet relaxed, and confident with a dash of insouciance, Post-Imperial’s jackets, button-ups, ties, or pocket-squares are a great way to inject a little vibrancy into your wardrobe.
While we hesitate to call anyone a flat-out failure, if you don’t own a high-quality, stylish umbrella by the time you’ve hit your early 30s, you might just fall into that category. Luckily, London Undercover offers up a large selection of streamlined umbrellas and are designed with a nod to British heritage styling, that makes them appropriate for any setting. What’s more, London Undercover also has a range of raincoats, bags, accessories, and smaller, fold-able umbrellas. They’ve also recently pulled-off some badass collabs with Vans and Carhartt.
If you’re searching for masculine, minimalist home goods to upgrade your apartment or house, then Craighill is the brand for you. Craighill’s stand-out brass, 3D puzzles are not only a great distraction and fun workout for your brain, but are also excellent art pieces that look just as good put together on your coffee table as they do in pieces (see above). Beyond puzzles, Craighill has a line of money clips, valet trays, candle-holders, and jewelry (mostly solid metal bracelets) to round out its sleek collection.
Last year, we wrote about Mitchell Evan’s military-inspired collection. This spring, the brand’s focus is geared toward outerwear. Waffle-cut puffer jackets, bombers, long, slim-cut overcoats, and military-inspired cargo jackets make up the brand’s Collection III, which will be available later this year. Mitchell Evan’s overall look falls into the ‘refined urban’ category–meaning his looks are at home on streets of our densest city-centers.
The big draw from Jungmaven is the fact that its collection is made from weed–well hemp, that is. As Jungmaven says of itself, “Hemp cleans oxygen, water and nourishes the land. Hemp is a natural fiber that’s cultivated with low impact on the environment. It requires no irrigation, uses no pesticides, synthetic fertilizers or GMO seeds. It’s one of the most durable natural fibers on the planet and results in a fabric with a wonderful hand.” The brand’s line of sweatshirts, henleys, tees, and long-sleeved shirts are simple, modern, durable, environmentally friendly and most importantly, soft. And the brand’s high point? All Jungmaven products are hand-made in America on 19th century machinery, making clear that craftsmanship (along with legal weed) isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
With a collection primarily composed of neutral and darker tones, The Good Man brand has some of the best sartorial options for those disinclined to wear bright colors. What Good Man Brand lacks in color, it makes up for in both physical and visual texture. Take the above jacket as an example of Good Man Brand’s transcendence from solid-colored, smooth-textured blazers to this interesting, almost fleecy patterned look in heather gray. Good Man also offers up slim-cut checked and patterned button-ups with both modern and wide-spread collars. It also selsl a damned good pair of stretch chinos (in multiple colors) to complement many of the brand’s tops all while allowing freedom of movement.
Fulton and Roark is a bespoke men’s grooming company based in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. The company got its start making high-quality take-anywhere solid colognes, but now they offer an entire line of shave and wash products. The quality, across the board, is great. The scents range from woody to floral to citrus-y to clean. All of their products have beautiful packaging and are made from high-quality, natural ingredients. For more information, take a look at our full review here.
Christopher Blomquist notes in his recent interview with Litoral brand founder Pedro Monteiro that Litoral’s “Porto-based collection is named after the Portuguese word for the shore zone between high and low tide and is aptly inspired by the colors and textures of where the land meets the sea. Its assortment of bottoms, jackets and tops boasts an immensely wearable and covetable look that is entirely free of bells and whistles yet, due to the quality of the fabrics and subtle details, anything but basic. The color palette also reflects the brand’s earthy moniker with pulled-from-the-seaside hues such as blue, beige and green. And Monteiro names each seasonal collection after a different Portuguese seaside location.”
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