I’m often quite struck at the disparity in choice for the modern, style-conscious gent. I think we can all agree that these days, many men are taking much more of an interest in their appearance and the ever-changing world of fashion, and one would think that we’d certainly be catching up with our spoilt female counterparts. Right?
Well, this isn’t really the case. The standard retail goliaths are dominated by womenswear (which is understandable when considering the amount of potential profit within the market), but the smaller, less-than-impressive menswear corners in these stores seem more like a token gesture than a serious consideration of style. I often find there’s very little geared towards anyone over the age of 18, and there’s only so many chinos and hooded checked shirts one man can take before he gives up completely.
But, fear not, there are some retailers that offer the very best in menswear – they just might not be in the most obvious/accessible locations on the high street. Outside of London, the smaller the town, the more difficult it is to pinpoint less popular brands. For instance, non-northern friends of mine can’t believe that Hull was only graced with H&M a mere five years ago – testament to how easy it is to fall behind.
Here at FashionBeans, we’ve taken these concerns on board and devised a list of our favourite stores outside the regular go-to list when we’re buying some new threads. Even if there isn’t one in your hometown, take the plunge and go online: a little originality is often worth the post and packaging cost.
Kooples advertising is plastered everywhere: beautiful couples (of whom I often question authenticity) wearing equally beautiful clothes that hint at a subtle luxury without the need for over-embellishment.
Imagine AllSaints with a tailored edge and you’re almost there; monochrome, neutral tones give the entire brand a notion of simplicity and if in doubt, I always insist us gents keep it simple.
Whilst on the pricier side of the spectrum, you’re paying for real quality here, and novelty, flyaway trends are nowhere to be seen. Perfect for the young professional seeking some regal threads.
A brand completely centred on Copenhagen cool. After years of being stocked in the likes of retail giants such as Urban Outfitters, a UK Cheap Monday Flagship Store hit British soil in February of this year and has only gone from strength to strength.
Channelling a workwear precision inspired by rural Scandinavian industry, Cheap Monday branched out from simple denim to sneakers, flannels, and shirts that are perfect for casual bar crawls and after work drinks. Although the brand lacks a more formal approach, Cheap Monday is ideal for the younger market to inject a polished yet rugged appeal to any outfit.
MANGO has been spreading Catalonian exoticism on the high street since 1984, and fourteen years later, HE by Mango was created to serve a growing menswear market.
Striking a perfect balance between quality and affordability, the HE range caters to almost every single gent by releasing everything from more formal blazers to casual denim wear.
Typical of clothing from the continent, HE by Mango is unafraid of bold prints and bright colours, and style is not simply limited to the monochrome. I was a newcomer to the brand myself, often associating it with dad-like territory but this is simply not the case – HE by Mango is a strong yet unobvious clothing choice, and anybody would do well to take some stylistic Spanish influence.
If all that still didn’t convince you to take the plunge, you only have to take a look through some of our latest feature articles on site to see how often they have been featured in our inspiration lookbooks – this is a brand that is on point each season and yet their clothing will effortlessly transcend from year to year.
Whilst the likes of Fred Perry and Lyle & Scott dominate the menswear heritage consciousness, Ben Sherman is a formidable and often underrated competitor in this market.
In recent years, the brand has moved away from the dreaded ‘chav’ association, branching out into luxury apparel influenced by an extensive history of British style. Gingham checks and slim-fit slacks all pay homage to the Mod and Punk subcultures of years gone by, and Ben Sherman has made a lasting impression upon contemporary menswear.
Although prices have increased in recent years, so too has the quality and prestige associated with the label. Try mixing a little Ben Sherman into your look: heritage pieces are a classic, timeless choice that will always serve you well.
I myself often tied Muji to Japanese gadgetry and consumer products, but a recent trip opened up a whole new shopping alternative. At extremely affordable prices, Muji is incredibly similar to Uniqlo; basic staple pieces are offered that can provide the very backbone to a great contemporary outfit.
The menswear range is currently a little limited, but don’t let this stifle your sartorial passion – Muji is budget friendly with a certain quality that should in no way be sniffed at. The brand’s strength lies in their dedication to retail, and it’s rare we find a shop that delivers classic style and versatility. Think American Apparel without the risqué advertising and lycra.
So, I hope today you’ve found a little variation to your high street shopping experience. Sometimes, it’s better to crack open the laptop with a cuppa than trawl the busy town, especially with Christmas coming up – comfort and quality from the safety of your own sofa.
There’s nothing in wrong with purchasing at the popular, obvious places, but adding an element of originality can only be found when trying new brands and stores. Take the plunge and invest in something a little different this winter.
Now I have had my say, who are some of your favourite, more underground brands that should be on our radar?