Fast fashion has its advantages (mainly when next-day delivery gets you out of a sartorial pickle the week before pay day). But it’s quality that lasts, of course.
Just look at a select few of menswear’s most respected brands, who guarantee their products for life. It’s a brave promise, given the savvy nature of today’s clued-up, value-hungry shopper. But, given that it’s as much an indication of professional pride as it is a sign of quality, Daniel Rhone, personal shopping manager at Selfridges London, thinks it’s worth it.
“It’s my job to recommend that investing in a well-made piece of clothing is worth the money,” he says. “A guarantee is a way of demonstrating that what they are buying represents a lifetime investment. It’s hard to argue with.”
Of course, not all guarantees are created equal. American outfitter LL Bean has a famously lenient returns policy which has seen it refund clothes torn in car crashes and sweaters over 15 years old. Most guarantees include the option of repair where they can, and a replacement if they can’t, adds Rhone. This usually also includes a fair use policy. So if you’ve been using your brogues to climb Everest, they probably won’t be covered.
For our money, these are the best brands to go the distance with.
Dr. Martens Boots
The one thing no man should scrimp on is shoes, so let’s start there. Iconic footwear brand Dr. Martens has been making boots since the 1940s, with softer leather than its contemporaries and air-cushioned rubber soles taken from old tyres.
Provided you buy from its ‘For Life’ range, which includes the classic 1460 boots and 1461 shoes, the company will guarantee them for life, repairing them or, if even the good doctor can’t save them, sending you a new pair.
Denim by Paris-based A.P.C. is widely regarded as some of the best on the market, not least because of the way its raw, untreated jeans wear in over time.
But one side effect of wearing in stiff denim is that they can be prone to wearing out in areas like the seat, crotch and pockets.
If this does happen, provided you’ve washed them according to the label’s instructions (by hand, in cold water and using a delicate care detergent), they may qualify for the Butler exchange programme. Give A.P.C. your old jeans and they’ll give you a new pair at half the price, thus replenishing your jean pool.
Tom Cridland Sweatshirt
British designer Tom Cridland is on a mission to make clothes that last, and help save the environment in the process.
Designed to avoid ‘built-in obsolescence’ (the idea that fast fashion is designed to wear out so that you’ll have to keep buying new stuff) his sweatshirts are crafted from high-quality cotton and come double stitched. Cridland guarantees each sweater for 30 years and will repair it free of charge as well.
At £95, you could wear it once a week for the full three decades and it’ll cost you just 0.06p per wear. Bargain.
Some guarantees carry more weight than others, and Eastpak’s is one of the heavyweights.
As a starter, the luggage brand will guarantee its special projects (with the likes of Raf Simons, Ami and the new ‘Lab’ series) for two years. If you buy one of its classic backpacks though, you’re looking at a 30-year warranty covering faults, defects and repairs.
Not strictly speaking ‘a bag for life’, but certainly better looking than the one you got from the supermarket.
Filson’s clothing and equipment is made for use outdoors in the Pacific Northwest of America. It’s pretty cold there. Wet, too. Then consider some of the region’s biggest industries and you begin to see why the firm’s unconditional guarantee is worth something. Whether you’re fishing or foresting, if the brand’s craftsmanship doesn’t stand up to its claims, pieces can be sent to its dedicated centre for repair.
Better yet, its shirts are simple enough and will look good over a white T-shirt, but are made from heavy duty poplin, so good luck wearing it out.
Barbour Waxed Jackets
The Barbour factory in South Shields is a thing to behold. Scores of brilliantly efficient workers slice the company’s famous waxed cotton to size, attach sleeve heads to shoulders and poppers to plackets in a flash.
At the back of the factory, though, is the repair and re-waxing room. Each year, 100,000 jackets are serviced here and returned to their owners as close to new as possible. The oldest jacket that Barbour is aware of dates back to 1911 and is fondly known as Uncle Harry.
While each repair costs upwards of £6 – depending on what you’re having done they can reach £30 – it’s a far cheaper option than forking out for a brand new jacket.
Cutting edge sportswear isn’t necessarily a place you’d expect to find a guarantee. But Castore, a British brand started by two brothers and former athletes (Phil a cricketer and Tom a footballer), has just that.
Despite an insistence on using the best materials and manufacturing methods, meaning all its products are built to last, the onus here isn’t on longevity.
Instead, Castore guarantees that its sports kit will never smell. Silver chloride is infused into the fabric as it’s woven, which kills any odour-causing bacteria straight away. Now, if you still stink at burpees, you’ve only yourself to blame.
Orlebar Brown Swim Shorts
Orlebar Brown’s stylish swim shorts, designed to replicate the fit of a tailored pair of trousers, are certainly among the most flattering you can buy, but they do not come cheap (prices start around £145 for its classic Bulldog model).
Made from material tested to withstand even the most overzealous swimming pool chlorine levels, salt water and UV rays, they will, nevertheless, wear out at some point.
In that case, the London firm will repair or replace them for up to five years from the date of purchase. A lifetime at sea? No. A lot of trips to the pool? Definitely.