Introduction

The phrase ‘Italians do it better’ has never been truer than when it comes to contemporary menswear. The Milanese tailors of the world have always been ahead of the crowd thanks to a sharp eye for detail, luxury craftsmanship and a sound understanding of how the male body works.

Versace, Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci and Prada are just a few names from the world of Italian fashion that have become legends in their own right – regardless of a man’s interest in the clothes on his back, these labels are instantly identifiable and highly desirable.

But what of the lesser known? It’s true that Italy is home to thousands of brands that are constantly redefining and solidifying the parameters of style, and in our constant quest for sartorial perfection FashionBeans looks towards southern Europe for inspiration.

Despite the blue chip designers’ obvious magnificence – Armani suits and Gucci loafers immediately spring to mind – all good wardrobes require pieces from across the range. Prestige doesn’t always mean style, after all.

With that in mind, we bring you five Italian brands you should know…

1. Slowear/Incotex

Although not technically a brand in itself, the Slowear group is a collective term for four very special labels:

  1. Zanone is a leader in luxury knitwear that combines classic craftsmanship with premium fabrications.
  2. Glanshirt offers a smart collection of informal but sophisticated shirts in muted colour ways.
  3. Montedoro is responsible for exquisite tailoring in the form of beautifully cut jackets and blazers.
  4. Incotex produce high quality, impeccably cut trousers, chinos and shorts, which have previously been identified by FashionBeans as the best of their type.

Slowear state that they make “durable, timeless wear… A Slowear article is chosen with care because it is not made to last just one season, nor to suffer the whims of transitory fashions”. It is an ethos that will surely resonate with all our readers, with the company focusing on producing classic, versatile menswear that is designed to transcend seasons and trends.

The four brands above aren’t known for their accessible price points – you’re looking at approximately £500 for a Montedoro blazer, £200 for Incotex chinos, £200 for a Glanshirt shirt and £200 for a Zanone sweater – but each and every piece should be considered an investment.

In terms of quality and style longevity, an item from Slowear will stay in your wardrobe for years, if not decades.

Renowned For: Premium quality, wardrobe essentials.
See More: Best Of Their Type: Wardrobe Basics
Official Website: www.slowear.com

Example Lookbooks

Slowear SS14 Lookbook

Key Pieces
  • Montedoro Slim-fit Lightweight Wool And Silk-blend Seersucker BlazerMontedoro Slim-fit Lightweight Wool And Silk-blend Seersucker Blazer
  • Montedoro Waterproof Cotton Rain JacketMontedoro Waterproof Cotton Rain Jacket
  • Glanshirt Slim-fit Flower-print Cotton ShirtGlanshirt Slim-fit Flower-print Cotton Shirt
  • Montedoro Printed Unstructured Cotton BlazerMontedoro Printed Unstructured Cotton Blazer
  • Glanshirt Slim-fit Striped Cotton ShirtGlanshirt Slim-fit Striped Cotton Shirt
  • Zanone Striped Shawl-collar Cotton CardiganZanone Striped Shawl-collar Cotton Cardigan
  • Incotex Slim-fit High Comfort Chinos 191192Incotex Slim-fit High Comfort Chinos 191192
  • Incotex Four Season Relaxed-fit Cotton-blend ChinosIncotex Four Season Relaxed-fit Cotton-blend Chinos
  • Incotex Birds-eye Weave Chinos 191214Incotex Birds-eye Weave Chinos 191214
  • Incotex Slim-fit Herringbone Cotton-blend TrousersIncotex Slim-fit Herringbone Cotton-blend Trousers
  • Incotex Linen And Cotton-blend Shorts 191202Incotex Linen And Cotton-blend Shorts 191202
  • Zanone Cotton-jersey Polo ShirtZanone Cotton-jersey Polo Shirt
2. Tod’s

They say ‘shoes maketh the man’, and if you’re wearing a pair of Tod’s then you will be a very stylish one. Beginning life as a family-run business back in the early 1900s, with each piece still made in Italy to this day, Tod’s is now synonymous with luxury leather goods and, in particular, contemporary footwear.

Offering a wide range of silhouettes – from desert boots and minimal trainers to monk-straps and loafers – in premium leathers and luxurious suedes, Tod’s craftsmanship and quality rivals that of traditional English shoemakers. With every product hand-crafted using highly-skilled techniques to the highest standard, these shoes not only look good, but are built to perform and last.

FashionBeans highly recommends their signature drivers: featuring durable studded rubber soles for lightweight flexibility, they are comfortable, available in both timeless and statement-making shades, and the epitome of laid-back Italian chic.

Price points rival brands such as Loake, Cheaney’s, Church’s et al. – making them a worthy consideration for those looking for shoes with a little bit more panache.

Renowned For: Contemporary footwear and luxury leather accessories.
Official Website: www.tods.com

Example Lookbooks

Tod's Spring/summer 2014 Campaign/Lookbook

Key Pieces
  • Tods Leather SneakerTods Leather Sneaker
  • Tods Horsebit Leather Driving ShoeTods Horsebit Leather Driving Shoe
  • Tods Laced Tassel LoaferTods Laced Tassel Loafer
  • Tods Suede Ankle BootTods Suede Ankle Boot
  • Tods Laced Gommino Leather Driving ShoeTods Laced Gommino Leather Driving Shoe
  • Tods Laced Nubuck LoaferTods Laced Nubuck Loafer
  • Tods Brushed-suede Monk-strap ShoesTods Brushed-suede Monk-strap Shoes
  • Tods Nubuck Leather Derby ShoesTods Nubuck Leather Derby Shoes
  • Tods Glossed-leather Penny LoafersTods Glossed-leather Penny Loafers
  • Tods Gommino Nubuck Leather Driving ShoesTods Gommino Nubuck Leather Driving Shoes
  • Tods Gommino Suede Driving ShoesTods Gommino Suede Driving Shoes
  • Tods Gommino Suede Driving ShoesTods Gommino Suede Driving Shoes
3. Anderson’s

With all of the incredible Italian garments on offer, it’s easy to forget about the smaller details. Enter Anderson’s belts. This fine Italian brand was established in 1966 when Mr Carlo Valenti launched his first collection in Parma with a focus on one of menswear’s most essential accessories.

Influenced by British style, traditional techniques from our home isle were combined with Valenti’s native flair and, needless to say, the results are still exceptional to this very day.

Anderson’s greatest strength lies in their broad appeal. Mahogany suede woven pieces suit the classicist in our midst while brighter colours and statement buckles provide a more contemporary spin. Regardless of your own taste, there’s bound to be a belt to suit you.

Price wise, Anderson’s aren’t unreasonable, especially for the quality of construction and materials used. The average cost is around £75, which isn’t much when compared to other market leaders and factoring in the cost-per-wear.

Remember, nothing beats a high quality belt: it’s a key piece that separates the truly stylish from the pretenders. Much more than a device to hold up your trousers, they can be used to make a style statement, add a personal touch to formal wear, create a clear distinction between your top and bottom half, tie an outfit together and much, much more.

Renowned For: High quality, contemporary belts.
See More: The Complete Guide To Men’s Belts
Official Website: www.anderson.it

Example Lookbooks

Anderson's Belts

Key Pieces
  • Andersons Brown 3.5cm Burnished Woven-leather BeltAndersons Brown 3.5cm Burnished Woven-leather Belt
  • Andersons Brown 3cm Woven-suede BeltAndersons Brown 3cm Woven-suede Belt
  • Andersons Blue 3.5cm Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven BeltAndersons Blue 3.5cm Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt
  • Andersons Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt 192868Andersons Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt 192868
  • Andersons Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt 192864Andersons Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt 192864
  • Andersons Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt 192872Andersons Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt 192872
  • Andersons Braided Belt – RedAndersons Braided Belt - Red
  • Andersons 3.5cm Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven BeltAndersons 3.5cm Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt
  • Andersons Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt 192878Andersons Leather-trimmed Elasticated Woven Belt 192878
4. L.B.M. 1911

As an offshoot of the classic Lubiam brand, L.B.M. 1911 is the brainchild of Luigi Bianchi. A string of family ties with the tailoring industry – Bianchi’s father and grandfather were door to door tailors and barbers – led to this Mantua-based designer launching his own collection back in 1911, with L.B.M. the modern day end product.

Tailoring is well and truly back on the radar thanks to masterful Italian brands like L.B.M. 1911. Their seasonal collections offer luxury unlined suits, sport coats, trousers and outerwear, which incorporate fabrics from Biella’s finest mills – the same ones used by the likes of Zegna, Carlo Barbera, Cerruti, Barberis, Loro Piana, etc.

Utilising classic cuts and sharp fits, the range is brought bang up to date via contemporary colour ways and vibrant patterns. Green ginghams, purple double-breasted jackets and bright red plaids may not seem like the most obvious addition to a tailoring collection but L.B.M. 1911 makes it look effortless, with their lookbooks always oozing sprezzatura.

As menswear goes forward, brands like L.B.M. 1911 are only set to grow in popularity – we’re no longer afraid of making statements or taking risks. In fact, due to more and more gents becoming style-conscious, it’s getting harder to separate our looks from the crowd. L.B.M. 1911 will help introduce a brighter shade or bold pattern to your wardrobe in a natural and refined way – and to top it all off, they won’t even break the bank.

Renowned For: Statement tailoring and soft-shouldered jackets.
See More: Spring/Summer 2014 Lookbook | Autumn/Winter 2013 Lookbook
Official Website: www.lubiam.it

Example Lookbooks

L.B.M. 1911 SS14 & AW13 Lookbooks

Key Pieces
  • L.b.m. 1911 SuitsL.b.m. 1911 Suits
  • L.b.m. 1911 SuitsL.b.m. 1911 Suits
  • L.b.m. 1911 SuitsL.b.m. 1911 Suits
  • L.b.m. 1911 Casual TrouserL.b.m. 1911 Casual Trouser
  • .b.m. 1911 Formal Trouser.b.m. 1911 Formal Trouser
  • L.b.m.1911 Clear Blue Slim TrousersL.b.m.1911 Clear Blue Slim Trousers
  • L.b.m. 1911 BlazerL.b.m. 1911 Blazer
  • L.b.m. 1911 BlazerL.b.m. 1911 Blazer
  • L.b.m. 1911 BlazerL.b.m. 1911 Blazer
  • L.b.m.1911 Brown Cotton And Linen JacketL.b.m.1911 Brown Cotton And Linen Jacket
  • L.b.m.1911 Green Slim Fit JacketL.b.m.1911 Green Slim Fit Jacket
  • L.b.m.1911 Beige JacketL.b.m.1911 Beige Jacket
5. Canali

Potentially the most recognisable of all our brands, Canali sits right on the cusp of insider knowledge and mainstream recognition. Those who are interested in fashion know the ins-and-outs of this Sovico-based label like the back of their hand, but such familiarly isn’t widespread and education is a must.

Canali is a story of ‘right time, right place’. Launched in 1934 by brothers Giovanni and Giacomo, their distinct breed of tailoring helped the label ride the first waves of Italian exportation during the 1950s.

The global market became increasingly aware of southern Europe as a major fashion centre and, as such, Canali exploded. From such humble beginnings, the label now has stores in New York, Hong Kong, Kuala Lumpur and New Delhi along with countless concessions in luxury retailers.

Canali has become synonymous with classic tailoring and their worldwide status indeed comes with the worldwide price tag. With all items still made in Italy, traditional shapes are strengthened with versatile colours that never go out of style – every year, spring brings with it a sea of pastel hues while winter is all about darker, more masculine shades.

A collection of everyday casual wear bolsters this brand and makes it a more accessible choice, with cotton-blend shirts and chinos coming in at a reasonable £150. The menswear market is becoming more aware of the finer blue chip brands so Canali offers the rare opportunity to invest in prestige without overt awareness. Let’s be honest, we all like that certain piece nobody else has.

Renowned For: Sharply cut formal wear and timeless wardrobe staples.
See More: Spring/Summer 2014 Advertising Campaign | Autumn/Winter 2013 Lookbook
Official Website: www.canali.com

Lookbook Examples

Canali SS14 Lookbook

Key Pieces
  • Canali Grey Cutaway Collar ShirtCanali Grey Cutaway Collar Shirt
  • Canali Gingham Check Cotton ShirtCanali Gingham Check Cotton Shirt
  • Canali Blue Check ShirtCanali Blue Check Shirt
  • Canali Kei Slim-fit Linen And Silk-blend BlazerCanali Kei Slim-fit Linen And Silk-blend Blazer
  • Canali Slim-fit Unstructured Cotton-satin BlazerCanali Slim-fit Unstructured Cotton-satin Blazer
  • Canali Regular-fit Stretch Cotton-blend Lightweight JeansCanali Regular-fit Stretch Cotton-blend Lightweight Jeans
  • Canali Wool And Silk Check SuitCanali Wool And Silk Check Suit
  • Canali Wool TrousersCanali Wool Trousers
  • Canali Cashmere-silk PoloCanali Cashmere-silk Polo
  • Canali Micro Dot Cotton JumperCanali Micro Dot Cotton Jumper
  • Canali Micro-houndstooth RaincoatCanali Micro-houndstooth Raincoat
  • Canali Striped Silk TieCanali Striped Silk Tie
Final Word

Italy is a style capital of the world, and for good reason. They’ve built their heritage and industry on expertise and caused the world to follow suit. Such an achievement is no easy feat and that’s why FashionBeans salutes our Mediterranean cousins in the south. Bellissimo, gents.

So, what do you think to our five Italian brands? Any you’d add? Any you love? Any you hate?

Let us know in the comment box below…