as an undisputed authority on all things menswear related, as much as on all things in life… yes it’s true… we offer up our take on brands, the following of them, the wearing of them and the displaying of them.
Brands: The Do's & Don'ts
Let us say from the off... the key take out for us is that a brand – or maker - says something about you and your values. It’s not about a label or a badge quantifying self worth. It’s the style, the fit, the quality of make one should really be fore-mostly vested in, add to that anything along the lines of heritage, and craft, and if you’re so inclined ethics. If you find this repeatedly in a certain brand, then you know it’s a brand for you and something worth investing in and spreading the word on, in some fashion or other.
If it’s a number of different brands or makers that fit together well, complementing one another, then you know implicitly what works for you and at that point you’re close to what can only be recognized as style utopia.
The only watch would be that if ‘said’ makers come with branding, take care not to look like a roadie wearing a jacket covered with button badges advertising their school of rock life story. Know what we mean…?
While all this stands true and badge modesty should trump a brand badge every time, we get it, sometimes you have a brand that you’re into and sometimes you just want to say: yep that’s what I’m about when I’m wearing this piece, or presenting a certain look, and you’re happy showing off a little bit of label.
When doing so, our take is: keep it subtle and un-brazenly-showy; by that we mean don’t let the label overtake the look. Like all aspects in the art of dressing, it’s all in the detail, so a brand badge or motif should remain just that, a detail, not an advertisement.
Brands come in all shapes and sizes, and at both ends of the pricing scale, so piecing this all together can take some navigation over any period of time to know what works, and essentially what works for you. As we’ve mentioned in previous articles, women are largely masterful at this sort of thing; balancing brands, with high street, and more often than not leaving the displaying of their brand badges on their accessories, the number one of that is their bag.
Really, there’s no right or wrong, just guidance. Well, actually, there is right and wrong, but the reality is there are lines that different wearers have, and the truth is we all have the potential to get it a little off the mark at different stages or times in our lives. The ultimate, beyond looking as good as you can, is doing so - as in all things - with a sense of integrity; which is why the question should always be: what are you wanting to achieve (with your look)? Especially when vested in brands, and the displaying of them.
The Do or Don't
It should be said here and now that we are pleased and privileged to be stocked around the world in some of the most discerning stores you may be fortunate enough to walk into; from the finery of the Speciality Store’s in the US, to the luxurious Department Stores of Tokyo. When you walk into any of these you will be greeted with hospitality, stunning collections, and a discerning guidance on what to wear that will meet your wants and desires. So if ever in doubt look them up! Or comment on this story. Or drop us a line. Sharing is caring, and nothing should be in doubt. The fact that you might have a comment or question reflects well on you and us. The key point being, don’t be afraid to ask. We still do.
And the first question to ask, your-self - of sorts, is (as always)… ‘If in doubt…’
First up, if in doubt, simply… don’t. If the displaying of a brand isn’t really you or you think it’s saying something more than you want, or saying something you don’t want, then don’t do it. Question this: what looks better – a plain white t-shirt with a logo on, or a plain white t-shirt? To remove any doubt, your answer to this is probably the best indicator to where you stand on the displaying of brand badges.
If you’re a plain t-shirt-no-logo-wearer, you might choose to have a little logo creeping in perhaps on some (leisure) footwear, or sunglasses, but overall you’re in the ‘non’ exposure camp.
That’s not to say when it comes to sport, as we looked at in pt.1 you don’t go for a piece of performance wear with it’s logo strategically placed for maximum exposure, but the sentiment is always different in the sports world; brands in sport essentially say, ‘I’m a serious contender...’!
If you’re in the non-exposure or edge towards the not really sure camp, but have something you want to say about where your brand tastes are, then the only really acceptable brand to show is a quality watch. And this doesn’t mean it has to be a functionally off-the-scale timepiece of stratospheric cost. There are quality watches to suit all wants, needs and budgets. Know what you’re spend is; what sort of style like, ideally one that reflects on you, your lifestyle, and style life, and take time to choose one that fits with all this.
Taste trumps cost all the time. In the extreme, what would you rather, a massive piece of bling doubling as a bicep curler on your wrist, or a modest adornment that offers complement, assuredness, and subtly of style; even if a fraction of the cost? For us quiet assuredness wins every time.
Why always all the fuss about a watch anyhow?
This is perhaps a slight digression from the branding question, but there is context here that’s worth attention.
A quality watch stands as an integral piece of wear in your life, mostly transcending fashion. It is functional as well as wearable, has craft and heritage, a personality, and shows you’ve given some consideration to all this as well as investing in something that is enduring, rather than throwaway. You can have a watch for life, or if you’re lucky two or maybe three. More often than not the branding of a watch is subtle. It often remains the makers mark, rather than a badge. And for any watch that may have passed through (family) generations, the heritage and mark of the maker remains a bigger signifier of integrity than the notion of brand.
Of course there are always watches that are about branding, fashion watches are ultimately this, which is perfectly valid; even iconic watches can be brand aligned, you only need to think of brand ‘Bond’ for this. The James Bond franchise is always a huge focus point for the right way to dress and groom and a vehicle for luxury brands to promote. Why would you buy and Omega Seamaster now? Guessing you’re not in the navy… But that’s all ok. There’s an object of desire aspect to the owning and wearing of a watch that gets right to the heart of our sensibilities and passions. Normally it’s a much more considered purchase, and so by its very nature is a closer reflection on you than a lot of the other items you have on.
Watches lead neatly onto the wider context of accessories…
Accessories often have labels quite exposed. Think ties, pocket squares, scarves... obviously here, think Seaward & Stearn! They’re often exposed as there’s no real hiding place for them. Though their exposure is discreet and easy to hide. Strictly speaking labels here are a signifier of the maker rather than a badge for display. As such a label can be on show unintentionally, or accidentally intentionally. Funny thing with ties, squares and scarves is you wear them close to your heart! So make sure it’s really all about you. If it’s a piece emblazoned with a brand motif perhaps worked into the design, ask yourself are you really showing off the pattern, or are you advertising the brand? If it’s the former, which of course is perfectly valid even when brand badging, then you’re head is probably in the right place and it’s just a question of piecing it together with the rest of your outfit; if it’s the latter and solely about displaying a brand, then it’s probably best to question what you are trying to say about yourself.
Accessories such as the badge on an umbrella, or the badge on a bag are very often unavoidable. With these types of accessories; maybe because there is an obvious functional fundamental to their purpose, they cross a certain line of maker meets brand, meets performance. Of course some extend beyond the badge-denoting-maker, and the design becomes all about the brand with it’s badge so heavily part of the design; think of those luxury pieces where the motif or a stripe forms the design, or the fastener is the badge. All in all, while there is a blurred line around this, the primary focus should be how it all complements you and what you’re about. If in doubt, go for the badge most modest.
The jury’s out on cufflinks with just the brand name on, equally belts. This is a personal thing for you to reckon with. For us, cufflinks with a design that complements your outfit is most important. The same is true of the belt; that it’s the right colour, not too big or wide, and not too big a fastener.
Sometimes though it might be your whole outfit is without any kind of brand insignia. When wearing cufflinks it’s invariably when you’re formally dressed, and so any type of branding is by the very nature of formal codes at an absolute minimum, if not a complete no-no. So something like a branded pair of cufflinks or branded belt might be one small thing that you wish to use to say from where you’ve pieced together your wardrobe; or that you’re a brand kinda guy, and while the brand of your suit or shirt aren’t visible, this is my way of telling you. All that said just contemplate: when your outfit and how you wear it should be speaking for itself, you have the name of someone else written on you.
There comes a time in almost every man’s sartorial life when he will embrace the polo shirt. It’s a shirt for everyman, like the humble t-shirt. Day or night, semi-formal or casual; it extends itself across any number of social occasions and transcends fashion.
Polo shirts with a small motif tend to go with the territory of polo shirts, as we looked at in Brands Pt1. Though Seaward & Stearn ones are probably some of the finest quality you can get and don’t have a motif. Just saying.
For polo shirts with branding there are two ways to go:
1) Good quality with subtle brand motif on the left pectoral side.
2) Good quality with a larger than life brand motif emblazoned on the left pectoral side, and for double measure another badge or logo shown on the reverse below the collar, or even under the collar for display with the collar up (see also below on coat collar). Here you’ve just got to question what you’re about and why. Are you conveying a look, or a look at me? Or a look at what brand I’m about, and how much I spend on a shirt? There is nothing wrong with any of this of course, and the ‘look’ can still look good; but again, what is being said? It goes back to that fundamental white t-shirt question about our association with brands and how big announcement we want to make of it.
Coats & Collars...
Formal coats obviously should have no visible logo branding on them. In the leisure end of the coat market so many coats now come with badges on. It’s a bit of balancing act. If you’re casually in the Baracuta /Harrington camp then, in short, no to the logo; if in the depth of winter you’re quilted or parka like in some way, then it can be a bit of search to find something without a badge. In short there’s little right or wrong here.
Raincoats tend not to have badges, but do well to expose a flash of colour or design that goes some way to expose the brand. This is perfectly acceptable. Though when in this territory take care when turning up your collar just to show the brand label (should there be one) underneath the nape of the neck, which is a kinda raincoat thing. Doing so while pretending you’re doing so nonchalantly too... best not huh. If you like the styling of collar up, and we do agree it’s kind of cool with certain looks, maybe loosely drape a scarf around.
For the avoidance of doubt...
The ones to follow here probably go without saying... but just to be 100% clear
Don’t ever… ever… ever… leave the name-tag on the sleeve of a jacket. These are there when you purchase a jacket or a suit and not designed to be shown or worn after leaving the store. It’s something that needs to be unstitched and removed; like the stitching on the cuffs and vents. They are all simply there to display who the garment is made by whilst shopping, that it is new, and care has been taken in it being made.
Don’t thread your belt under the waist-line label on a pair of jeans. Always place the belt over top and thread under the belt loops. Jeans will have all the insignia they need and you may wish for, whether a badge big or small.
The absolutely don'ts:
Here, the big no’s. With no debate…
- Under-pants-brand-band exposure.
- Big, big, big logos on anything.
- Multiple brand badges on multiple garments..
- Big, big, big, logos and multiple brand badges on multiple garments.
- Anything with Superdry written on.
We’ve penned a fair bit here, and as with all things we write on, it’s just our take. All the while there is a genuine sentiment, let’s not take everything too seriously. Wearing clothes in any kind of fashion should always be a joy.
When it comes to brands there’s enough signage and signature emblazoned on literally everything around us that sometimes it feels as if we’re walking amidst one big advertisement; one we can be a part of, or we can be something other. That’s the beauty of it all, and when it’s all said and done the beauty of how someone goes about dressing; whatever the perception of right or wrong. Often perceptions are easily turned on their head as simply as the turning of one seasonal trend versus another.
All in all, we say, be true to yourself. That way you’ll know you’re always on the right track. What do you think?