TEAM CHOICE: Fashion Brands

Fashion – you either buy into it or you don’t give a toss. Yet, the amount of clout and influence the fashion industry has on our every day, (from the colour palettes to textures and even politics and culture) is indubitable.  The word ‘trend’ is instantly synonymous with fashion and design in general, and although there have been many ‘one hit wonders’ (see: heavy metal typefaces, man-skirts and although it’s rumoured to be making a comeback, the branded velour tracksuit), there are some trends that have truly stood the test of time (see: animal prints, minimalism and military).

Whether you like it or not, fashion, whether led by a single designer or a collective brand important. At this point in the blog we’d like to reference one of the most high-brow, powerful and culturally significant  films ever made:

“Oh. Okay. I see. You think this has nothing to do with you. You go to your closet and you select… I don’t know… that lumpy blue sweater, for instance because you’re trying to tell the world that you take yourself too seriously to care about what you put on your back. But what you don’t know is that that sweater is not just blue, it’s not turquoise. It’s not lapis. It’s actually cerulean. And you’re also blithely unaware of the fact that in 2002, Oscar de la Renta did a collection of cerulean gowns. And then I think it was Yves Saint Laurent… wasn’t it who showed cerulean military jackets? I think we need a jacket here. And then cerulean quickly showed up in the collections of eight different designers. And then it, uh, filtered down through the department stores and then trickled on down into some tragic Casual Corner where you, no doubt, fished it out of some clearance bin. However, that blue represents millions of dollars and countless jobs and it’s sort of comical how you think that you’ve made a choice that exempts you from the fashion industry when, in fact, you’re wearing the sweater that was selected for you by the people in this room from a pile of stuff.” – Miranda Priestly (The Devil Wears Prada, 2006)

We took a bit of time out to ask the designdough team what fashion brands inspire them the most based on either culture, ethics or aesthetics. Take a look…

  1. Abi: Lucy & Yak

    Website: Lucy & Yak
    ”We want to prove that everyone from production to customer can be happy. Our aim is to demonstrate that a clothing label can produce awesome unique clothing of a high quality, at the same time we want your experience and our customer service to be phenomenal every time without exception. But most importantly, our goal is to prove that you can do all of this without someone in the chain not receiving their fair share.”

    Super simple, affordable and fashionable gender-neutral dungarees made in high-quality, beautifully coloured cotton and corduroy fabrics. They’re tailored in North India in a fairly underdeveloped rural village, yet all workers within the workshop are paid 4 times the state minimum wage and since working with the brand, have been able to afford new, bigger premises ensuring comfortable working conditions, a clean and well lit workshop area, and integrated air conditioning for hot seasons. The brand works closely with the factory owner, Ishmail, to ensure that standards for his employees, as well as production, are kept super high and are now working towards Fair-Trade certification.
  2. ALICE: Anthropologie

    Website: Anthropologie
    "Founded in 1992 in Wayne, Pennsylvania, Anthropologie has grown into a one-of-a-kind destination for those seeking a curated mix of clothing, accessories, gifts and home décor to reflect their personal style and fuel their lives' passions. Taking inspiration from the worlds of fashion, art and entertaining, we are committed to offering our customers signature products and unmatched service; both online and in our stores throughout the UK and North America."

    Their shops sell a lifestyle, not just products, and the website showcases great continuity of brand throughout. The brand feels like it's constantly evolving, particularly with it’s use of colour and seasonal palettes. It undoubtedly fancy and luxury but also accessible and appears laid back.
  3. JOE: Farah

    Website: Farah
    "With a philosophy firmly rooted in British menswear, Farah craft pared-back classics for modern living, balancing aesthetics with function, for design with true permanence."

    Farah has a history firmly rooted in family. Having started the business in 1920, Mansour Farah and his wife opened their first factory in Texas and following steady growth, the brand was finally picked up by rockabilly, mod and skinhead circles during the 1970s, eventually becoming synonymous with the subcultures. Farah’s style offers timeless clean lines, simple, quality fabrics and effortless tailoring.
  4. James: Superdry

    Website: Superdry
    "Superdry is an exciting contemporary brand which focuses on high-quality products that fuse vintage Americana and Japanese-inspired graphics with a British style. They are characterised by quality fabrics, authentic vintage washes, unique detailing, world leading hand-drawn graphics and tailored fits with diverse styling. Such distinctiveness has gained the brand exclusive appeal as well as an international celebrity following."

    Superdry are one of those quintessential British brands that are uncompromising on quality whilst being thoughtfully influenced by Japanese and American design. As a tall man, it’s hard to find clothes long enough to fit but Superdry offer a slimmer and more linear fit than usual.
  5. RHYS: Supreme

    Website: Supreme
    “Supreme is a company that refuses to sell out” - Glenn O’Brien, GQ.
    In most businesses, the main goal is to become as big as possible. But Supreme does not attempt to be a part of any department stores, instead remaining underground and boutique. Supreme takes inspiration from various underground styles including skatewear, military gear, 80's hip-hop and merges them into a singular aesthetic. The brand has managed to create its own unique identity and aesthetics. While similar brands such as Stüssy cashed in and reaped mass-market riches, James Jebbia (the founder of Supreme) stays true to his principles. They could easily open a store in every major city, dress people, give free products to celebrities but instead chooses to keep it limited. Although celebrities buy and wear the clothes, you won’t see them modelling in the lookbooks, it’s still run like a grassroots business to this day with only close friends and family modelling the clothes. The brand’s marketing, or lack thereof, takes a guerrilla approach. They rely on quality product, word of mouth and a strong visual aesthetic. They don’t bend over backwards to try and impress you. The retail prices are not astronomical in comparison to other brands of their quality. If a skate deck sells for £60, but resells for £400 they’re not going to raise the prices because they want to serve the customer. They work with artists I respect and admire and also collaborate with an eclectic range of musicians I listen to including Morrissey, Public Enemy, Black Sabbath, Misfits, and Neil Young to name a few. Their collaborations with other brands are probably what makes Supreme so sought after. They have collaborated with The North Face, Lacoste, Nike, Louis Vuitton, Stone Island, and Levi’s to name a few. But they only associate with brands they respect, waving off many celebrities approaching the brand seeking a collaboration.
  6. Ez: Ralph Lauren

    Website: Ralph Lauren
    "What began 40 years ago with a collection of ties has grown into an entire world, redefining American style. Ralph Lauren has always stood for providing quality products, creating worlds and inviting people to take part in our dream. We were the innovators of lifestyle advertisements that tell a story and the first to create stores that encourage customers to participate in that lifestyle."

    Ralph Lauren offers classic clothing, quality tailoring and timeless silhouettes. The brand’s early designs featured affluent and preppy looks and were marketed to wealthy aristocrats, but during the 90s, Ralph Lauren’s polo brand (previously only worn by athletes and polo players) was embraced by New York gangs and hip-hop musicians and their followers to signify the ‘rags to riches’ narratives so evident in their lyrics. Polo is now iconic, not for the original brand that launched it, but the cultures that adopted it.
  7. Alex: Patagonia

    Website: Patagonia
    "Our Mission: Build the best product, cause no unnecessary harm, use business to inspire and implement solutions to the environmental crisis."

    This brand spikes my keen sense of adventure. It looks made to last and could actually last a lifetime. They also have a fully transparent supply chain, check on labour conditions to ensure conditions are maintained. Their range feels like a mix of robust outdoor clothing to more relaxed lifestyle pieces. They also use a range of recycled, low-impact materials. Love that ethos. Love that brand.
  8. Dan: Nike

    Website: Nike
    "Our mission is what drives us to do everything possible to expand human potential. We do that by creating groundbreaking sport innovations; by making our products more sustainably; by building a creative and diverse global team; and by making a positive impact in communities where we live and work. Based in Beaverton, Oregon, NIKE, Inc. includes the Nike, Converse, Hurley, and Jordan brands."

    Nike started life as a sportswear brand called Blue Ribbon Sports, and believe it or not, their first pair of shoes were reportedly created by founder, Bill Bowerman, in a waffle iron for Otis Davis, a student athlete at the University of Oregon. Nike was soon picked up by hip-hop culture following the reams of successful athletes that sported the brand, including Michael Jordan who went on to put his name to Nike’s best selling shoe; the Air Jordan.
  9. JAMES N.: Vans

    Website: Vans
    "Brothers Paul Van Doren and Jim Van Doren along with partners Gordon Lee and Serge Delia open The Van Doren Rubber Company, Anaheim, California for business on March 16. Vans are the original action sport footwear company grounded in youth, authenticity and individual style. Our purpose is to embody and represent the creativity and self expression at the core of action sports and youth culture."

    Vans are one of the archetypal skate brands, characterised by its founding California skate culture but now accepted by the mainstream. Although Vans offer clothes and accessories, they are most iconic for their skate shoes; simple and easily customised laced and slip-on flats. The black and white checkerboard pattern so synonymous with the Vans brand and ska culture has since become popular with young followers of the music genre.