You’ll have noticed, we hope, that recently things have soured for the makers of throwaway fashion. Their CEOs have been hauled in front of government to explain how they make millions, while their wares go from warehouse to Instagram to landfill within a couple of weeks.
Fortunately, shoppers are finally waking up to their own role in this mess.
The answer, the industry says, is to buy less and buy better. Which used to mean patronising the luxury brands that promise craft, care and quality. However, they too have been on a disposability tip recently – a logo-emblazoned cotton T-shirt doesn’t suddenly become an artisanal investment buy just because it costs as much as a car.
There is still a world of luxury wheat amid the chaff, though, where investing brings rewards. “Luxury clothing usually has better fabric, better cuts and better style,” says celebrity stylist and image consultant Gabrielle Teare. And that quality means longevity, which allows time for you to build the emotional connection with your clothes that’s hard to find on the high street. “It’s better to buy one thing you love than six cheap things you don’t,” adds Teare.
These, then, are the pieces that offer true bang-for-buck, even if that does mean putting a lot of bucks down to attain them. After all, there’s a difference between cost and value. Everything here will last – some of it longer than you – which means that over hundreds, sometimes thousands of wears, even eye-watering price tags can start to look like a bargain. Kind of.
More so than every other layer, a killer coat is a sensible place to put your money, especially if you think long-term. There’s a reason that we still wear the same kind of outerwear as our grandfathers – and their grandfathers. Granted, you can now wear a single-breasted trench coat with a hoodie, rather than just over a suit (or a uniform), but it’s still basically the same thing. The specialist brands are still the place to go, just as they were when they made them for men in actual trenches – a classic coat from Burberry or Aquascutum will never date and still keeps the water off. Just like it always has.
Wear It With
Though the coats haven’t changed much, what they go with certainly has. The beauty of a classic trench, ideally in beige or olive, is that you can wear it with anything from a suit to jeans, so it will transition effortlessly from work to the weekend. That’s good news for your cost-per-wear.
Shoes That Will Outlive You
Three things define a luxury product’s price – what it’s made of, how well it’s made, and how much the brand that made it spends on advertising to make you buy it. Northampton’s artisanal shoemaking brands focus almost exclusively on the first two, which means that even though their brogues, Oxfords and loafers can set you back four figures, they’re also likely to last longer than you. At brands like Church’s, Tricker’s and Edward Green (as well as ‘outsiders’ like London’s George Cleverley and John Lobb) centuries of craft go into every pair, which makes them the hardiest and most comfortable shoes you’ll ever own. When they do wear down, Goodyear-welting means you can just replace the soles and they’ll be as good as almost-new again.
Wear It With
A pair of brown brogues sits handsomely beneath turned up jeans, while black Oxfords are the perfect finish to tailoring. As for boots, it depends how rugged you go – a pair of Tricker’s work boots is most at home with equally hardy selvedge, but they also offer a nice contrast with a suit.
A Watch You Can Wear Everywhere
If punctuality is all you care about, then luxury watches offer awful value for money. In the timekeeping stakes, mechanical movements will never be as accurate as the vibrating quartz crystal that sits inside a black plastic Casio, let alone the connected clock on your phone. But if what you’re after is workmanship, care and dedication to engineering excellence, then Switzerland’s horologists are a wonderful place to put your money. An Omega Seamaster or Tudor Black Bay will complete any outfit and keep ticking for as long you do (so long as you stump up for annual servicing, mind). And if you’re looking for something that offers a literal return on your investment, then unlike almost everything else in your wardrobe, Rolexes and Patek Philippes only tend to go up in value.
Wear It With
Collapsing dress codes mean that most watches are multi-functional these days (in the sense that you can wear them dressed up or down, not that they have a built-in calculator). A sleek three-hander, like a Rolex Datejust or Oris Divers 65, looks as good with a blazer as it does a hoodie.
Cashmere Made From The Good Stuff
Plenty of basics brands would have us all believe that you can get cashmere for less than a few rounds of drinks, but like anything, not all cashmere is made equal. The proper stuff – the kind of cashmere…