30 British Clothing Brands That Deserve A Spot In Your Wardrobe
With a host of heritage labels all still at the top of their game, plus some stylish new kids vying for your attention, it has never been a better time for British brands. Here we highlight some of our favourite names to make space for in your wardrobe.
London might not be the fashion powerhouse it once was, but its history in cultivating style movements is unprecedented. From suit making in the 19th century to the plethora of trend-setting subcultures throughout the 20th century, British style has been exported all over the world.
Naturally then, Britain is home to a host of celebrated heritage brands that have been doing what they do with uncompromising expertise for the best part of a century. There are also brands who have taken a seat at the highest table of global fashion and luxury. Elsewhere, Britain’s melting pot culture has given rise to an eclectic group of modern labels that have carved out a unique workwear edge.
Whatever genre of modern menswear you fall into, this list highlights the myriad faces of British style and the finest purveyors of it today.
Legend has it that the original Percival was one of King Arthur’s knights of the Round Table, and this second incarnation is fast becoming just as legendary – the London=based brand focuses on modern interpretations of classic menswear silhouettes, paying particular attention to fabric quality and diversity.
Think overshirts, chore jackets, OCDBs, chinos and cargo pants in elevated wools, cotton and linen, alongside relaxed tailoring, plus a host of contemporary sportswear shapes.
It’s effortless smart casual done with class and just a modicum of cheekiness.
Self-taught tailor Oliver Spencer has been at the forefront of British menswear for over two decades, applying his contemporary twist to traditional menswear silhouettes. With a commendable focus on organic and eco-friendly materials, Spencer’s collections revolve around a softly tailored approach using unstructured jackets and a variety of casual trouser cuts.
There’s an easy-to-style blend of workwear and preppiness too, from chore jackets to camp collar polos via linen blousons and bomber jackets.
Fabric is everything to Spencer so you’ll never be short of unique textures and tactile cloths.
YMC stands for You Must Create, a mantra that founders Fraser Moss and Jimmy Collins have applied to each and every collection. Eclectic, contemporary and always upbeat goes some way to describing YMC’s collections that lean on workwear and military silhouettes mixed with a skater vibe.
YMC’s fabric selection is top notch and extremely diverse, while its use of patterns is always compelling, from classic polka dots and stripes to much more experimental styles.
Especially look out for interesting and unique collar details on their jackets and blousons to add a twist to your wardrobe and keep one eye open for their collaborations which are frequent and always on point.
Founded by Cathal McAteer in 2002, Folk have been synonymous with a British menswear scene that has seamlessly blended streetwear classics with a more elevated workwear aesthetic. Its early days of vibrant colours and patterns have matured to become more understated and refined.
The label’s speciality is relaxed tailored pieces combined with sportswear silhouettes such as loopback sweaters, as well as workwear-inspired trousers and blousons.
With a great fabric selection, Folk’s garments will slide seamlessly into all modern wardrobes.
The Nottingham-based brand founded by David Keyte in 2009 has developed nothing short of a cult following in its hometown and beyond thanks to an unwavering focus on unique workwear-inspired silhouettes cut in equally unique fabrications.
With a small-scale production ethos that focuses on quality fabrics and sustainability, Universal Works has carved out a niche for themselves in the contemporary workwear market thanks to perennial classics such as their Bakers jackets and overshirts.
If you like a loose and unstructured silhouette with relaxed tailored elements – all played out in a vibrant colour palette – then you’ve just found your perfect brand.
The poster boy of British fashion for decades, Sir Paul Smith’s eponymous brand has continued to evolve since it was founded in Nottingham in 1970.
Keenly referencing Smith’s eclectic interests, inspirations and passion for travel, the label has combined a smart, slim approach to tailoring with a colourful, pattern-rich casual collection that takes classic silhouettes and applies a typically ‘Smithian’ optimism to them.
Think bold colour-blocking, vibrant stripes and plenty of floral details to uplift your wardrobe.
Originally founded by Michael Drake in 1977, Drake’s was originally a haberdashery but swiftly evolved to become one of the most sought-after tailoring brands on both sides of the Atlantic, thanks to its quirky mix of classic British tailoring and collegiate preppiness.
In the excellent hands of Michael Hill and Mark Cho since 2010, Drake’s has brought together the style worlds of the city and the country, alongside their excellent Perennials collection. It features timeless silhouettes such as chore jackets, fleeces, OCDBs and heritage knitwear, alongside superb seasonal suits.
Their collaborations have long been hot tickets, especially with cult New York streetwear brand Aimé Leon Dore – so keep your eye out for more of those.
Private White VC
Private White VC takes its name from Private Jack White, who was awarded the Victoria Cross during WWI and went on to found a clothing factory in Manchester, England, which to this day is the genesis for the brand’s impeccably made garments.
Nothing that Private White VC does is outsourced but everything is meticulously handmade using the finest locally sourced fabrics and artisanship. With an emphasis on rainproof outerwear (if you’ve ever been to Manchester you’ll understand) cut in classic British military silhouettes, the brand has become renowned for its macs, twin-tracks, bombers and Harrington jackets, but don’t sleep on it’s excellent selection of knitwear and shirting.
If you like a muted colour palette, preferring the cut and fabric quality to do the talking, then Private White VC is right up your street.
Turnbull & Asser
An icon of Jermyn Street shirtmakers, Turnbull & Asser have been constructing the world’s finest bespoke shirts since it was founded by John Turnbull in 1885 (Ernest Asser, a salesman, joined in 1893).
Now under the creative direction of Becky French, this Royal Warrant holder has evolved its offering to include a tailoring, knitwear, outerwear, loungewear and even Japanese selvedge denim, all constructed with an outstanding level of detail.
As you would imagine of a British heritage brand, the style doesn’t deviate from classic menswear silhouettes for smart and elegant dressing. Also to note is Turnbull & Asser’s vast selection of sartorial accessories.
Yet another heritage British brand to come from Nottingham, Sunspel was founded in 1860 by Thomas Hill and has since achieved global recognition for its excellent T-shirts, polo shirts and loungewear – with no little help from a certain James Bond franchise.
Sunspel prides itself on the quality of their cotton and the comfort and cut of their garments, and rightly so. The fit and quality is hard to beat.
Their flagship product, the Riviera Polo, as worn by our favourite British spy, is a no-brainer addition to any smart casual summer wardrobe.
The original hellraiser of British fashion, Dame Vivienne Westwood’s eponymous label has always ripped up the rulebook by subverting fashion’s timeless tropes with a colourful punk attitude.
While the brand has done a roaring trade in polos over the years, it’s really the anarchic twist on men’s tailoring that should get all the plaudits. That said, shirts are a big part of the Westwood menswear legacy too, and we’re not talking plain white office fodder here either – think eccentric stripes, patchwork effects, and in-your-face paisley patterns.
The streetwear elements are equally as vibrant, but if you’re in the market for a denim jacket, you’ll find some sumptuous organic and recycled cotton styles in rich indigo dyes.
The minimalist maven of British fashion, Margaret Howell’s understated colour palette and fluid silhouettes have always been at the forefront of a design-led anti-fashion, where form and function trumps trends.
Howell’s collections are synonymous with voluminous cuts through jackets and trousers, referencing traditional military shapes and executed with precision.
The collections are replete with elevated staples such as crew-neck knits, soft cotton jersey and military inspired outerwear (including some fantastic waxed cotton Barbour pieces) – all stuff that should form the backbone of a very sophisticated wardrobe.
Joseph was founded in 1966 by the Casablanca-born Joseph Ettedgui who wanted to champion new and emerging brands in specially designed concept stores. Ettedgui was way ahead of his time, one reason why Joseph is still going strong to this day.
Its own label was launched in 1983 and is now under the creative direction of Anna Lundbäck Dyhr and Frederik Dyhr. The pair have expertly taken the minimalist mantle and run with it, creating chic pared-back lines rich with luxury fabrics.
Continuing with the vision of a timeless wardrobe combined with contemporary cuts and an understated palette, Joseph’s menswear concept is beautifully modern, especially the tailoring and knitwear which is second-to-none and incredible value for money.
Although the ownership of Belstaff has changed hands a few times in recent memory, the British brand founded in 1924 has never departed from a rugged motorcycle rider aesthetic. This has remained at the very core of its collections, with iconic garments such as the Trialmaster and Fieldmaster being instantly recognisable.
Belstaff’s leather jacket offering is a must-see for those who have graduated from the rock ‘n’ roll vibes of the Perfecto and are now after something more refined by way of a café racer.
But it’s not all leather and waxed cotton – the brand have now cleverly incorporated technical fabrics into their outerwear offering, with an ongoing collaboration with Gore-Tex providing a slick range of contemporary weatherproof twists on their most recognisable designs.
An icon of British country outerwear, what would the waxed cotton field jacket be without Barbour? The brand founded in the north east of England in 1894 has been peerless in its production of waxed cotton outerwear.
While the brand has now branched out into every other category of menswear, it’s still all about those field jackets for us – because well looked after (Barbour have been offering a re-waxing service for a century), they are for life.
That said, don’t sleep on the quilted jackets – ever since they launched their first in 1979 they have become a chic country go-to for men who need to stay warm without the bulk.
Burberry’s story has been something of a rollercoaster over the decades since it was founded in 1856, but in recent memory the British heritage brand that started out making waterproof trench coats has been on an upward trajectory.
Now under the direction of Riccardo Tisci, Burberry is more relevant than it has ever been, reinventing itself at the top table of fashion with modern streetwear silhouettes shouldering up to elegant tailoring and luxury accessories.
That iconic heritage check is now joined by bold graphic prints and updated logos, while Burberry continues to make giant steps into the digital fashion landscape.
The impact Stella McCartney has had on sustainable fashion production cannot be underestimated, with the designer pushing the boundaries of what is possible with ethically made synthetic and vegan fabrics. But all of that would be in vain were the collections not what they are: vibrant, daring and fun, with an overarching emphasis on contemporary streetwear.
Now McCartney has dropped the menswear line in favour of a unisex collection we wait to see how this will develop, but be sure that it will be the most sustainable and environmentally-conscious clothing you can buy.
Award-winning designer Jonathan Anderson started his label in 2008 after a stint at Prada and hasn’t looked back since. As creative director of Spanish luxury brand Loewe too, his eponymous label is his free-flowing creative outlet, specialising in avant garde, gender-fluid menswear consisting of logo tees, playful jerseys, esoteric tailoring and graphic prints.
If you want to make a statement with your wardrobe then there is none louder or prouder than Anderson, with his shirt collection especially bold and pattern rich.
Expect head-turning slogans and plenty of patchwork designs to make people double-take.
Anderson & Sheppard
Anderson & Sheppard is to Old Burlington Street in London what whipped cream is to hot chocolate: a delicious addition that once tasted can never be forgotten.
Founded in 1906, Anderson & Sheppard was a pioneering tailoring house and haberdashery and was one of the first to introduce a more relaxed and loose silhouette, as opposed to the rigid military tailoring that was the norm back then. Hence, the house block is a fluid shape with softly tailored contours.
Anderson & Sheppard’s best-kept secret is their casualwear. especially their buttery-soft heritage knits such as shawl-neck cardigans, Arans and merino rollnecks.
You can’t miss Richard James on Savile Row. While the heritage tailoring houses have their sombre-looking store fronts, Richard James’ windows are typically bursting with colour.
In many ways, James revolutionised the Mecca of British suit making, shaking up the status quo with a bold vision for tailoring that captured the zeitgeist. James used a slimmer block (his ‘Hyde’ fit) for his off-the-peg offerings and introduced bold splashes of colour in his accessories.
Now the house’s tailoring expertise has evolved to include a sophisticated casualwear range of knits, hoodies, polos and relaxed trousers, all executed with the same attention to detail.
When Jeremy Hackett founded his brand in 1983, his aim was to take the best parts of Savile Row and make them more available and relevant to the man who saw tailoring as a modern style statement.
From this starting point, Hackett leant on a very English concept of preppiness to evolve his collections, using excellent fabrics and timeless silhouettes in his blazers, suits and shirts, along with bold accents of colour.
Always covering the classic bases, Hackett has developed an aesthetic that while tailoring centric, has carved a casualwear niche for itself with a subtly nostalgic vibe that harks back to 1920s England, replete with boating blazers, tailored shorts and preppy-inspired sportswear.
The original enfant terrible of British fashion, Lee Alexander McQueen left an incomparable legacy and a fashion house that has gone from strength to strength under the creative direction of Sarah Burton OBE.
All of the tenets of McQueen’s razor-sharp tailoring have been dutifully honoured, together with an incredible attention to detail and the use of fine fabrics such as leather and lace. As good as McQueen’s seasonal collections are, the brand has also excelled in its more commercial offering, creating a number of modern icons such as its chunky platform sneakers.
But really, the jewels here are the leather works and statement sartorial garments – which are more classically cut than you might think, but always have that iconic McQueen subversion about them.
Founded in 1893 by Mr Alfred Dunhill, this quintessential British brand started out in the business of motoring accessories but has since evolved to become a highly respected luxury fashion label characterised by an understated elegance.
Steered by creative director Mark Weston (formerly of Burberry), the brand has an unwavering focus on luxury fabrics – so expect plenty of leather, suede and cashmere among its seasonal collections, which feature traditional menswear silhouettes but executed in the most exquisite detail.
If you like your seasonal staples – we’re talking polos, overshirts, blousons, knits and trousers – all constructed from the highest quality fabrics, then Dunhill is your first port of call.
The original creator of the Harrington jacket, Baracuta has deservedly earned its cult status among British menswear brands. Founded in 1937, Baracuta’s iconic G9 Harrington jacket has been worn by everyone from Steve McQueen to Damon Albarn and is to this day instantly recognisable by the two front flap pockets and the tartan lining.
With a proverbial tonne of different iterations of the jacket, including some fantastic collaborations, their easy-to-style G9 jacket will always have a place in a modern casual wardrobe.
Orlebar Brown was born out of necessity when founder Adam Brown found himself on holiday wanting a pair of tailored shorts that he could swim in but that would also hold their own with a smart polo at lunch. The result was the ‘Bulldog’ short, and from there grew the first real resortwear brand for men that wanted more from their off-duty summer wardrobe.
Now, Orlebar Brown’s offering is extensive, from terry towelling polos and linen twill chinos to merino wool shawl neck jumpers and cotton blazers.
Always innovative when it comes to their flagship shorts, Orlebar Brown is perfect fodder for an upmarket resort look.
Clarks is a British footwear institution, make no mistake. The nearly two centuries-old shoemaker might not boast the prestige of the Northampton brands, and yet here it still is, producing affordable classics year after year.
While it makes a vast array of styles, nothing beats its Originals, most notably the desert boot and Wallabees. The latter found fame with the 80s UK raver but it was the desert boot, or ‘chukka’, that really made a name for Clarks.
Their origin goes back to 1941, when one Nathan Clark was stationed in Burma with the British military. He observed that the military men were wearing crepe-soled rough suede boots as part of their uniform, and discovered that they came from a bazaar in Cairo, Egypt. So off he went, took them back to Somerset, and four years later launched a suede boot that has become a modern-day classic.
Crockett & Jones
Hailing from the British shoemaking Mecca that is Northampton, Crockett & Jones has been meticulously handcrafting footwear since 1879. The fact that it is still one of the world’s most respected shoemakers is testament to its unwavering focus on artisanship and quality leathers.
The boot aesthetic is smart and features all of the classic styles you can put a name to, while the shoe collection is dependably excellent, with each pair taking up to eight weeks to manufacture in a labour-intensive process involving over 200 highly skilled operations.
The original twin-tipped Fred Perry polo shirt has been an inextricable part of British subcultures ever since the 1950s and that laurel wreath remains iconic to this day.
The polos were actually the idea of an Austrian footballer called Tibby Wegner, who developed the first sweatband with tennis star Perry before following René Lacoste’s move into tennis polos by releasing white and black cotton pique versions at Wimbledon in 1952.
Today, you can find the M12 polo (still made in England) in a vast array of different colour combinations.
Probably the most recognisable boot brand the world over, Dr. Martens have been an indelible part of British and world subcultures ever since it started producing its footwear in Northamptonshire, England.
That the design has hardly changed in all those years proves just how loved DMs have been, from school children (we all remember our first kick in the shin by a steely-toed DM!) to goths via punks and police officers.
Always keep an eye out for their collaborations, which tend to produce some great riffs on classic DM designs.
Ireland and Scotland both have great knitwear heritage, but there is no English knitwear without John Smedley.
Designed and manufactured in Derbyshire for over 200 years, Smedley’s luxury, slim-fit, fine-gauge knits are constructed from the finest premium merino wool from New Zealand, while their polos and tees are cut from Sea Island cotton, or cotton and silk blends.
Smedley’s extra-fine merino wool pullovers are a dream to wear with tailoring for a chic dressed down look, while you’ll find plenty of space in your summer wardrobe for their range of super-soft cotton polos and tees.
Royal warrant holders Tricker’s hail from the epicentre of shoemaking that is Northampton. That should be proof enough of the quality of the footwear, but also know that over 260 processes are involved in the hand-making of each pair from start to finish.
The brand is probably best known for its Stow Derby ankle boot, an iconic country boot that is a great match with selvedge denim, but don’t don’t sleep on its city shoe styles either – you’ll be hard-pressed to find better quality loafers, single monks and oxfords anywhere else.
Another of the Northampton shoemaking royalty, Grenson have been at the forefront of British bootmaking ever since 1866, renowned for their casual brogue styles constructed from the finest leather uppers.
They haven’t rested on their heritage however, producing some brilliantly contemporary styles in the form of military boots in recent years, as well as a collection of classic lo-fi leather sneakers that would slide right into a modern smart casual wardrobe.