Fast fashion has become a buzzword in style circles in recent years. What they’re referring to is brands like H&M, Forever21, ASOS, or anything that sticks to the front lines of trends while throwing quality out the window.
The clothes you pick up will look great for a few months, but they shrink and deteriorate by the end of the season. That’s what they’re for.
That’s not to completely discredit these brands. Sometimes you need new clothes and your aesthetic screams “Milan,” but your wallet whispers “Goodwill.”
They’re also a great starting point for guys to enter into the fashion world. Fast fashion definitely has its place.
But as your personal style develops, so should the pieces in your wardrobe. It’s time for some new words like “research” and “investment.”
Upgrade your closet with brands that last. We’re going to take you through how to step your game up with clothes that will last you for years.
Start With Jeans
What jeans are you rocking right now? Hopefully you’ve at least had the sense to grab some Levis, but chances are your closet is filled the Old Navy and H&M denim. We understand. $30 for a pair of pants is too good to pass up.
We also bet you’ve blown out more than a few crotches over the years. So $30 becomes $60, and $60 becomes $90. You get the picture. So instead of dropping $200 over the span of 2 years, why not drop it now and get a pair of jeans that will last you 4 or 5?
Your jeans shouldn’t be a fragile piece of cheap fabric. Invest in quality and craftsmanship.
Upgrade Your Tops
The best way to possible upgrade your shirts is bespoke. That doesn’t mean going to a tailor and having him make you a shirt on the spot anymore.
Companies like Drakes offer a pseudo bespoke experience. Just check out their website, answer some questions, pick your shirt, and they’ll hook you up with exactly what you need, custom made for you.
If that’s a little too stuffy and formal, there are plenty of higher end menswear brands that can spice up your wardrobe.
Moving beyond fast fashion doesn’t necessarily mean switching to high fashion. A lot of your best options come from brands that focus on quality over trends.
Basics Are Important
Think of the clothing you use for everyday wear. Things like t-shirts, hoodies, crewnecks, sweatpants, etc.
Instead of settling for a 5 pack of fruit of the loom, look to brands like Reigning Champ, Acne Studios and John Elliott that focus solely on making the very best basics in terms of quality, style and fit.
After getting your first high quality basic pieces, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without em.
Don’t Skimp On Outerwear
Outerwear is probably the area that has the most visible results. Some of you probably have jackets passed down from your dad.
A quality coat can last for generations. In the old days, you probably only had one or two jackets, so they had to last.
Fast forward to today, you can pick up a $30 parka that’ll probably disintegrate as soon as it rains too hard.
It’s so tempting to go grab whatever the most fashionable style is at the mall, even if that means tossing it out once spring comes around.
That’s perfectly fine if you feel the need to be on the very cutting edge, but a classic, time tested style will save you money in the long run.
Look to brands that specialize in outwear. Barbour is brand that will still be knocking them out of the park decades from now. One of their waxed jackets will carry you through anything the urban wilderness will throw your way.
If you do need something a little more modern focused, high fashion brands like Rag & Bone follow the trends to a T, but with the added perk of top notch quality.
Be aware that trendiness does come with the possibility of your new jacket being out of style next season. Fortunately, the craftsmanship means that it will last until it cycles back around.
What’s On Your Feet?
Fast fashion in the shoe world can come in many different forms. H&M and Forever 21 stock plenty of flimsy, uncomfortable dress shoes that won’t last through the winter, and stores like Payless offer style-deaf chunky monstrosities that last, but will make no great first impression.
While brands like Saint Laurent may be out of the question for most working men, investing a few hundred bucks into a pair of quality boots or a premium leather sneaker is completely worth it to round out your closet.
Your go to shop is going to be stores like Brooks Brothers and Suit Supply. You’ll be able to find something to fit most budgets, from a $2500 power suit to one you can piece together for a few hundred.
If even that feels like a stretch, just remember this: A good first impression is worth it’s weight in gold. You don’t want your first impression to be “he wears the same brand as my teenage son.”
Another benefit to going to an actual formal-wear store is that many have in house tailors. That may be good enough for most, but let’s delve a little deeper into alterations.
Bonus Round: Tailoring
We’ve brought up the beauty that is a tailored outfit before. While a good tailor can also alter a pair of cheap pants, what’s the point if the fabric is going to degrade so quickly?
If you want a truly customized fit, invest in a high quality item before you even bother taking it to the shop.
To quote Andy Dwyer, “I recently invested in some shirts at a garage sale. Left those at a Wendy’s, on the way home, so… the economy.” Treat your clothes like an economy. Invest.