The appeal of French style is everlasting, and with good reason. Bringing together glamour, finesse and sophistication, the country is famed for its considered design approach that continually favours quality over quantity.
While some may picture France’s fashion scene as one dominated by high-end design houses and luxury garments, the rise of youth-focussed brands and contemporary boutiques over the past few years has taken French menswear from aspirational to accessible.
We’ve recently rounded up the best Riviera-inspired pieces on a budget, as well as those all-important style lessons we’ve learned from the French, so now it’s time to get clued up on the country’s 10 lesser-known labels that deserve their spot in your wardrobe.
Founded in 1987, A.P.C. (short for Atelier de Production et de Création) quickly made its mark on the industry thanks to its modern approach and pared-back urban menswear.
Designed for the stylish man about town, the Parisian brand’s minimalist aesthetic has earned it worldwide acclaim, becoming a go-to label for simple, high quality everyday pieces.
2. Brooklyn We Go Hard
Taking its name from a Jay-Z track, this Parisian label reflects the passion for hip-hop and street culture rising among France’s youth.
From its humble 2010 beginnings, when just two friends held the reigns, Brooklyn We Go Hard has blossomed into an authentic, sought-after streetwear brand, leading to regular collaborations with major players such as Puma.
3. The Kooples
Arriving in the UK in 2010, The Kooples made its name thanks to clever advertising campaigns that saw the label dress real life couples in their wares.
However, marketing gimmicks aside, it’s the label’s passion for vintage styles and modern simplicity that has ensured its longevity, producing slick rock ‘n’ roll-inspired pieces for the contemporary man.
Expect sharply-cut suits, skinny black denim and edgy leather jackets.
This label may have been born in the eighties, but it is anything but brash. The brainchild of husband and wife duo Didlier and Evelyne Chétrite, Sandro quickly garnered a cult following due to its sleek silhouettes, striking prints and premium fabrications.
Its menswear collections continue to adhere to these guiding principles to this day, offering beautifully constructed, modern staples in both timeless neutral hues and eye-catching patterns.
Available at sandro-paris.com.
Ami’s founder Alexandre Mattiussi cut his teeth at the likes of Dior and Marc Jacobs before going it alone, bringing his undeniable skill and eye for detail to his own urban-infused label.
Relaxed sports-inspired staples are this brand’s signature, along with the bold red fisherman’s hat worn by Mattiussi himself – a staple of the label’s offering, season after season.
6. Maison Kitsuné
Who would’ve guessed that this hip young brand started out as a record label, before turning its hand to fashion?
Offering fun and funky separates injected with a generous dose of Parisian cool, Maison Kitsun&eactue; continues to electrify the global fashion scene thanks to its focus on traditional production standards mixed with a contemporary attitude.
Hailing from Nice in the French Riviera, Façonnable started out as a high-end tailor to the stars, dressing anyone who’s anyone for the Cannes Film Festival red carpet.
Today, the label focuses on ready-to-wear pieces, turning out relaxed coastal separates and casual French classics alongside the expert tailoring it’s renowned for.
This 1979-born Parisian brand looks to the USA for its inspiration, blending the nation’s sporting heritage with simple European elegance.
As a result, Hartford offers up a suave line of casual garments – self-named ‘alternative classics’ – which are perfect for the more active gent who still wants to look stylish.
Swimwear that will get you noticed at the pool, beach or bar is Vilebrequin’s speciality, with its designs originally inspired by the surfers of the 1970s.
Today, this luxury brand continues to produce high quality, quick-drying swim shorts in a variety of vivid prints – expect turtles, sailing boats and everything in between.
Available at vilebrequin.com.
10. Officine Generale
Relatively new to the fashion scene, 2012-founded Officine Generale brings together smart tailoring with classic workwear to form a strong masculine look.
Military influences also play a big part, epitomised by the predominantly khaki, beige and grey colour palette utilised within its collections. If you’re not a fan of anything “flashy or vulgar” (Officine Generale’s words, not ours), this label is for you.
Available at Mr Porter.