Fast fashion has its advantages (mainly when next-day delivery gets you out of a sartorial pickle the week before payday). But it’s quality, sustainable fashion that lasts.
Just look at a select few of menswear’s most respected brands, who guarantee their products for life. It’s a brave promise, given the savvy nature of today’s clued-up, value-hungry shopper. But given that it’s as much an indication of professional pride as it is a sign of quality, it’s one worth looking out for.
“It’s my job to recommend that investing in a well-made piece of clothing is worth the money,” says Selfridges personal shopping manager Daniel Rhone. “A guarantee is a way of demonstrating that what they are buying represents a lifetime investment. It’s hard to argue with.”
Of course, not all guarantees are created equal. Most include the option of repair where they can, and a replacement if they can’t. This usually also includes a fair use policy. So if you’ve been using your brogues to climb Everest, they probably won’t be covered.
For our money, these are the best brands to go the distance with.
Denim by Paris-based A.P.C. is widely regarded as some of the best on the market, not least because of the way its raw, untreated jeans wear in over time.
But one side effect of wearing in stiff denim is that they can be prone to wearing out in areas like the seat, crotch and pockets.
If this does happen, provided you’ve washed them according to the label’s instructions (by hand, in cold water and using a delicate care detergent), they may qualify for the Butler exchange programme. Give A.P.C. your old jeans, and they’ll give you a new pair at half the price, thus replenishing your jean pool.
TOM CRIDLAND SWEATSHIRT
British designer Tom Cridland is on a mission to make clothes that last, and help save the environment in the process.
Designed to avoid ‘built-in obsolescence’ (the idea that fast fashion is designed to wear out so that you’ll have to keep buying new stuff) his sweatshirts are crafted from high-quality cotton and come double stitched. Cridland guarantees each piece for 30 years and will repair it free of charge as well.
At £95, you could wear it once a week for the full three decades and it’ll cost you just 0.06p per wear. Bargain.
The one thing no man should scrimp on is shoes, and few know this better than Blundstone. One of the world’s most recognisable footwear brands, it has been manufacturing in Tasmania since 1870.
However, it’s not just because the company sources its materials from some of the best tanneries in the world that makes them a wise investment. It also offers an ironclad promise on quality.
If your boots kick the bucket before their time, Blundstone will replace them, no questions asked. The only caveat is that you have to have looked after them. So get polishing.
Some guarantees carry more weight than others, and Eastpak’s is one of the heavyweights.
As a starter, the luggage brand will guarantee its special projects (with the likes of Raf Simons, Ami and the brand’s design-led ‘Lab’ series) for two years. If you buy one of its classic backpacks though, you’re looking at a 30-year warranty covering faults, defects and repairs.
Not strictly speaking ‘a bag for life’, but certainly better looking than the one you got from the supermarket.
Filson’s clothing and equipment is made for use outdoors in the Pacific Northwest of America. It’s pretty cold there. Wet, too. Then consider some of the region’s biggest industries, and you begin to see why the shirt brand’s unconditional guarantee is worth something.
Whether you’re fishing or foresting, if the brand’s craftsmanship doesn’t stand up to its claims, pieces can be sent to its dedicated restoration centre inside the Seattle flagship for repair.
Better yet, its shirts are simple enough and will look good over a white T-shirt, but are made from heavy duty poplin, so good luck wearing it out.
BARBOUR WAXED JACKETS
The Barbour factory in South Shields is a thing to behold. Scores of brilliantly efficient workers slice the company’s famous waxed cotton to size, attach sleeve heads to shoulders and poppers to plackets in a flash.
At the back of the factory is the repair and re-waxing room. Each year, 100,000 jackets are serviced here and returned to their owners as close to new as possible. The oldest jacket that Barbour is aware of dates back to 1911 and is fondly known as Uncle Harry.
While each repair costs upwards of £6 – depending on what you’re having done they can reach £30 – it’s a far cheaper option than forking out for a brand new jacket.
TWEEZERMAN GROOMING TOOLS
No matter how well-made something is, it’s likely to break or wear out with regular use eventually. That’s as true of a gilet as it is your grooming tools.
A pair of blunt tweezers or dull facial hair scissors is about as much use as a ‘get well soon’ card at a funeral. Luckily, Tweezerman knows this and is dedicated to keeping what’s inside your wash bag as sharp as your beard.
Simply complete an online form and send your gear off to the brand’s New York sharpening centre. In four to six weeks you’ll get them back good as new.
Cutting edge sportswear isn’t necessarily a place you’d expect to find a guarantee. But Castore, a British brand started by two brothers and former athletes (Phil a cricketer and Tom a footballer), has just that.
Despite an insistence on using the best materials and manufacturing methods, meaning all its products are built to last, the onus here isn’t on longevity.
Instead, Castore guarantees that its sports kit will never smell. Silver chloride is infused into the fabric as it’s woven, which kills any odour-causing bacteria straight away. Now, if you still stink at squats, you’ve only yourself to blame.
ORLEBAR BROWN SWIM SHORTS
Orlebar Brown’s stylish swim shorts, designed to replicate the fit of a tailored pair of trousers, are certainly among the most flattering you can buy, but they do not come cheap.
Made from material tested to withstand even the most overzealous swimming pool chlorine levels, salt water and UV rays, they will, nevertheless, wear out at some point.
In that case, the London firm will repair or replace them for up to five years from the date of purchase. A lifetime at sea? No. A lot of trips to the pool? Definitely.
You buy something, use it until it falls apart, and then buy a new one. That’s just the way things go sometimes. When it comes to luggage, however, that’s a risky gamble to make.
When you buy a reassuringly sturdy suitcase from Away, not only is there very little chance of a busted hinge sending your smalls all over the cabin but even, but everything from to a dodgy zipper to a squeaky wheel is covered by its warranty.
That’s on top of a 100-day trial in which you can buy a case, travel with it, Instagram it, put a sticker on it and still be able to return it if it’s not right for you. Not that you’ll want to, mind.
As part of your seasonal wardrobe, a gilet only get used for half the year. So, in theory, it should last twice as long. That menswear maths is usually accurate, but the only way to guarantee the sums is to buy from a brand that, well, guarantees them.
Patagonia has been providing high-performance gear to explorers and streetwear kids alike for over 40 years. There’s even a fair chance some of its down jackets from day dot are still in circulation.
If at any point yours no longer withstands the elements, or indeed the halfpipe, the Cali brand will repair or replace it for you. Even fair wear and tear, which is excluded by most warranties, is covered for a small fee.
Sure, even a broken watch is right twice a day. But given its intended function, it makes sense to spend your hard earned on a timepiece that will keep on ticking for as long as you do.
Storied American outlet Shinola puts quality craftsmanship at the fore of everything it produces, whether that’s its line of sleek leather backpacks or hand-assembled watches.
So certain is the brand of its flawless precision that should what’s on your wrist come a cropper, you can get it repaired or replaced for life. No questions asked.