The men’s fashion startup brands and clothing retailers below will transform your wardrobe. The entrepreneurs behind these innovative menswear brands offer fresh takes on eyeglasses, suits, business casual shirts and chinos, dress shoes, leather sneakers and more.
Photo credit: Derek Tian and Warren Liao, founders of online made-to-measure suit tailor Black Lapel. The photo is courtesy of Black Lapel.
While all of the brands below are innovative and intriguing, the companies in bold are Editor’s Choices. That means I’ve had a personal, positive experience with the brand and its products. Read more about Modern Fellows’ experience with these brands via the inline links below.
Rundown of Clothing and Fashion Startup Brands for Men
- Alex Mill was founded in 2012 by Alexander Drexler, the son of J. Crew’s former CEO Mickey Drexler and is focused on quality basic wardrobe pieces for men and women like t-shirts, sweaters, jackets, and more.
- Ambr Eyewear delivers prescription, reading and non-prescription glasses for men and women that filter blue light and UV rays with minimal tint. Get a discount coupon for 10% off your Ambr Eyewear purchase.
- American Giant – American-made apparel and activewear.
- Asket, based in Stockholm, Sweden, has been making “timeless wardrobe essentials” with premium materials and ethical sourcing practices, since 2015.
- Away Travel — Steph Korey and Jen Rubio founded Away Travel, the Warby Parker of luggage, in 2016. Usually buying and toting luggage is a chore, but my coworkers and friends seem super-enthusiastic about their away suitcases. (Update: I bought, tried out and ultimately returned a hardcase version of Away’s bigger carry-on, and then bought, tried-out and kept their new nylon expandable bigger carry on, which I adore and will one day write up.)
- Baboon to the Moon – This fun brand, which makes travel “bags for adventure,” is all over my Instagram feed.
- Black Lapel has been one of our favorite online made-to-measure tailors for a long time.
- Beckett Simonon is a fantastic option for a range of dress shoes and leather sneakers for men. Beckett Simonon’s shoes are definitely worth the wait.
- Blade and Blue was founded in San Francisco by entrepreneur Peter Papas, and specializes in limited-run, mostly-made-in-America men’s apparel. The company sells everything from shirts to neckties to boxer shorts to men’s accessories.
- Bombas‘ colorful socks are now carried in major retailers like Nordstrom as well as available online.
- Bonobos is a modern bricks-and-clicks department store for men. They started out specializing in pants, but now have a range of really interesting clothing and accessories. Yes, Bonobos is now owned by Walmart, but it retains a startup mentality. Check out a Bonobos Guide Shops like this one in DC’s Shaw to get a feel for their clothes.
- The Breton Company, founded by “recovering attorney” Joseph May, makes the Modern Day Briefcase, which boasts “the comfort and versatility of a backpack with the professional appeal of a briefcase.”
- Buck Mason — Founded in 2013 by Venice, California-based neighbors Erik Allen and Sasha Koehn, Buck Mason focuses on designing “updated, modern American classics for daily wear.”
- Centric Instruments makes a seriously good-looking, solar-powered field watch with Arabic numerals for around $200. It led a successful Kickstarter launch of its signature Lightwell Field Watch.
- Charles Tyrwhitt — Nick Wheeler founded Charles Tyrwhitt way back in 1986 as a side hustle. Today, it’s a great bricks-and-clicks option for off-the-rack, British-inspired dress shirts. Stop in a store like this one in DC’s Farragut North neighborhood.
- Chene Du Paris — Founded by Christian Chêne and Carlos Zermeño and based in Houston, Texas (not Paris), Chene Du Paris makes really good-looking Chelsea boots and dress shoes for men in suede and leathers. (The leathers sport a rich patina.)
- Christopher Ward watches – I look at my Christopher Ward C9 everyday and smile. It’s a gift from my wife and one of my favorite possessions. Chris. Ward is on a mission to be the “cheapest most expensive watch in the world.” They make gorgeous watches.
- Cuts Clothing — Steven Borrelli founded Culver City, California-based menswear startup Cuts Clothing in 2016 when he struggled to find quality, professional-looking t-shirts. They offer a range of attractive crewneck, v-neck and henley shirts with classy touches.
- DAEM Watches — New York-based micro-brand watch startup DAEM — an anagram for made — makes beautiful watches.
- Everlane — Engineer Michael Preysman founded the company in 2011 at just 25 years old with a promise of “radical transparency” in its supply chain. Everlane specializes in quality wardrobe basics like sweaters, chinos and t-shirts.
- Greats — Friends Ryan Babenzien and Jon Buscemi sketched out the concept for Greats back in 2007 — selling affordable luxury sneakers direct to consumers — and finally launched in 2012.
- Gustin — Crowsourced premium, made-in-America menswear delivered at wholesale prices.
- High Bar Shirt Company has been making made-to-measure custom dress shirts in a family-owned factory in Newark, New Jersey dating back to 1933. The company has suited up broadcasters including Howie Long, Michael Strahan and David Ortiz. Check out Modern Fellows’ article on World Series Dapper for more about HBSC.
- Herschel Supply Co. — In 2009, brothers Lyndon and Jamie Cormack founded Herschel Supply Company in Vancouver. Today, the lifestyle brand serves up stylish backpacks, bags and more for women, men and kids. Herschel Supply Co’s leather messenger bag is one of my favorite possessions.
- Huckberry was founded by Rich Greiner and Andy Forch in 2010 and curates a nice selection of men’s clothing, accessories and home goods, sprinkling in its own Flint and Tinder brand among third-party offerings.
- Hugh & Crye — Pranav Vora founded this DC-based men’s fashion startup focused on uniquely-sized button down shirts that makes off-the-rack fit closer to custom.
- Italic offers a unique concept: luxury goods without the label for dramatically reduced prices. Founder and CEO Jeremy Cai’s marketplace offers unique designs for men, women and the home from factories who produce for luxury labels like Prada, Burberry, St. Regis and Gucci.
- Jack Mason — Founded by Craig Carter and Michael Reese, Jack Mason sells really-affordable, classic watches for men and women starting at under $200. Their watches are also available on Amazon and at Nordstrom.
- Kotn is a direct-to-consumer brand selling premium wardrobe basics for women and men including t-shirts, sweatshirts, flannel pants and socks. Founded in 2015 by entrepreneurs Rami Helali, Benjamin Sehl and Mackenzie Yeates, Kotn makes their clothing from premium Egyptian cotton and sells at an honest price.
- Ledbury is one of Modern Fellows’ top favorite online men’s clothing retailers. Based in Richmond, Ledbury specializes in stunning, button down dress shirts.
- Mack Weldon produces a full line of men’s basics including tshirts, sweats, underwear, jackets, polos, pants, hats, scarfs, gloves and more. Founder Brian Berger told Modern Fellows that “the major differentiator with our product will always be our attention to performance and functionality.” I love their socks.
- MTailor – Can an app be your tailor? MTailor intends to prove it can. An online, app-driven custom tailor for suits, shirts, jeans and more.
- Martenero is a micro-watch brand founded by John Tarantino. They produce gorgeous modern takes on traditional timepieces. (Their motto is “tradition refreshed.”)
- Ministry of Supply was founded by MIT graduates and uses NASA-quality performance fabrics to make technical clothing for the business workday. Read more in my guide to performance clothing for professionals, and see Ministry of Supply CEO Aman Advani’s advice for your first purchase from his company.
- Mio Marino is a growing Brooklyn-based brand that started out making belts and now sells a range of socks, shoes and other affordable fashion apparel and accessories for men and women.
- Mizzen and Maine is perhaps the granddaddy of the current movement towards comfort-driven athleisure for business casual and professional office wear. They boast a series of proprietary performance fabrics through a wide range of technical professional clothing.
- Moral Code was founded by Laura Engerman and Mark Kohlenberg in 2007. The company makes standout dress shoes and leather sneakers in rich, unique colors. Moral Code’s Alec leather lace up sneakers are awesome.
- The Nines, along with its sub-brands like House of Ties, is a truly spectacular Paris-based retailer of men’s apparel. They sell shirts, pants, belts, and more, but I adore their grenadine and printed ties.
- Nice Laundry – I love Nice Laundry’s socks, brought to you by two former LivingSocial employees.
- Nordstrom has had a startup mindset since 1901, and has embraced modern fashion and digital retail, as well as partnerships with more recent fashion brands like Bonobos.
- Oliver Cabell, founded in 2016 by Scott Gabrielson, is a direct-to-consumer affordable luxury brand that sells high-quality footwear for men and women including super-attractive boots and leather sneakers.
- Outerknown was founded in 2015 by former surfer Kelly Slater and business partner John Moore with the goal of creating a lifestyle clothing brand that promoted goods made with fair labor practices and without harmful environmental impacts. Originally focused on menswear, Outerknown launched a women’s clothing line in 2019.
- Pact offers “guilt free,” sustainable fashion featuring clothing and accessories for women and men made with materials such as organic cotton from fair trade factories.
- Proof Eyewear – Hailing from Boise, Idaho, Brothers Brookes, Tanner, and Taylor Dame began Proof Eyewear in 2010 focused on unique sunglasses. Today, following a compelling turn on CNBC’s Sharktank, the eyewear startup produces a range of sunglasses and prescription eyewear for men and women featuring cool frames made out of wood, cotton based acetate, recycled materials and more. Get a $20 coupon off any $60 order.
- Proper Cloth is, without a doubt, one of my absolute favorite online made-to-measure shirting companies. Their lookbooks, photos, technology, customer service, online interface and — most importantly — their shirts, are top-notch.
- Ratio Clothing, based in Colorado, makes stellar custom shirts for men. Their shirts are made in America, and founder Eric Powell has invested in their manufacturing partner to combine American craftsmanship with modern technology. They particularly shine for Oxford shirts and flannels. (Read my review of Ratio Clothing.)
- Rhone is a menswear startup named after the Rhone River that makes luxury athleisure activewear, basics and commuter button down shirts from technical performance fabrics.
- RibbedTee makes my absolute favorite undershirts. Their supima cotton v neck shirts are outstanding and long lasting. Read more: American-Made RibbedTee Offers a Reason to Reexamine Your Undershirt Drawer
- Society Socks makes soft, comfortable and colorful socks for men, and founders Sergey Sapelnyk and Filip Pejic donate one pair to charity for every pair sold.
- Spier & MacKay is a highly-regraded Canadian startup founded by Rikky Khanna with the aim of proving “great for and high quality don’t have to be a luxury.” Look to Spier and MacKay for affordable ready-to-wear suits.
- Spoke London makes chinos in more sizes and finishes for a better fit. Take their 60 second quiz to find your better fitting pants. Take $35 your first order via this coupon link.
- State and Liberty, named after an intersection at the University of Michigan where founders Lee Moffie and Steven Fisher met, specializes in performance clothing for athletic builds.
- Stitch Fix is a data-driven online personal styling service for men and women that was founded in 2011 and which went public in 2017.
- Sutro Footwear, based in California, offers amazing, sturdy work boots, Chelsea boots and Oxford shoes for men and an array of attractive leather boots for women.
- Taft Clothing is something of a misnomer as this men’s fashion startup focuses mainly on tremendously-unique dress shoes. Founded in 2014 in Utah by Kory and Mallory Stevens, Taft Clothing offers gorgeous, super-unique dress shoes that are simultaneously fresh and traditional.
- Taylor Stitch sells responsibly-made quality men’s clothing — everything from knits to plaid flannel shirts to chinos and more.
- Todd Shelton is a remarkably thoughtful entrepreneur who iterates constantly on a bold plan to offer well-fitting, made-in-the-USA shirts, denim, and more.
- Todd Snyder – I would devote a significant part of my closet to Todd’s creative-yet-classic, military-inspired menswear if I could afford it. In addition to creating his own lines, he also collaborates with brands from Converse to Timex and has a New York flagship store (see Modern Fellows’ review of Todd Snyder’s store) in which you could spend some serious time and money.
- Tommy John makes premium men’s underwear and undershirts and performance dress shirts from technical fabrics.
- Trunk Club, now owned by Nordstrom, is an online personal stylist. Go behind the scenes at the Trunk Club Clubhouse in Washington, DC.
- Unsimply Stitched is one of my favorite brands for bold, colorful socks for men. The company was founded in 2011 by Alex Hendeles in Los Angeles, and its socks are available via Amazon Prime.
- Warby Parker does a great job of combining value, customer service and omnichannel access to an innovative, online-enabled home-try on program for glasses and physical stores across the country. (It’s home try on program for prescription eyeglasses has been widely replicated by alternative e-commerce eyewear startups.)
- Woodies Clothing specializes in “perfect-fitting shirts” (flannels as well as easy-care and stretchy performance button down dress shirts) and “custom-tailored bottoms.”
- Wolf and Shepherd’s shoes are comfortable enough to run a marathon in them. My pair of Wolf and Shepherd’s Closer Cap-Toe Lace-up Oxfords have taken a licking and held up well over more than a year.
- YMC You Must Create is a British brand founded by entrepreneurs Fraser Moss and Jimmy Collins that makes what it calls “intelligent men’s and women’s clothing.”
- Zkano – I’ve loved Alabama entrepreneur Gina Locklear’s socks since she started up her made-in-America fashion brand for women and men in 2009. Read more about Gina’s journey via this interview with Modern Fellows.
Explore more innovative men’s fashion startup brands
Dig deeper and discover more details about a variety of menswear clothing startups with these articles:
- Discover Modern Fellow’s favorite innovative fashion brands;
- Find out where to buy affordable chinos from creative menswear labels;
- See more than a dozen options for buying bold, unique and colorful socks online;
- Get to know these eCommerce startups making interesting dress shoes for men; and
- Check out options for buying incredible low-top leather dress sneakers for men.
- Explore innovative brands making performance clothing from technical fibers.
Who is missing?
Which men’s fashion startups and innovative apparel bread a are missing from this list? Leave your suggestions in the comments.
About JakeJake is passionate about exploring entrepreneurs' global journeys. He founded Modern Fellows in 2012 to get to know the entrepreneurs behind the innovative brands helping men dress sharp in the digital age. Jake has written about entrepreneurship, international business and/or fashion for outlets including Business Week, Forbes, Inc., Details Style Syndicate and Primer Magazine, and has provided analysis on international business for BBC Radio, NBC News, CNN and Time Magazine.
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