8 CYCLING APPAREL BRANDS WE’RE LOVING AT THE MOMENT

There’s plenty of sportswear that we can only accurately describe as “hideous.” So much of it is terribly designed, or drowning in distracting logos, or so focused on functionality that it neglects the aesthetic side of things completely. Fortunately, a few companies out there have realized that sometimes simplicity reigns supreme, and that practicality and style are not mutually exclusive. These seven men’s cycling apparel brands are the best of the best.

Bernard

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Design geeks everywhere are in love with Bernard’s beautiful cycling kit. The colours, the typography, the totally unique design – everything comes together perfectly, resulting in one of the most coveted jerseys in the cycling game. The limited edition gear (which includes three jerseys, shorts, a wind vest, arm warmers, and a cap) flies off the shelves every time in goes on sale, so good luck getting your hands on it.

Jaggad

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Melbourne-based Jaggad creates professional athletic wear that meets the performance needs of the pros while still being accessible to all. The garments are high quality and ultra modern, but never showy or overly-branded. What makes Jaggad unique is the interesting line-up of investors and sports identities behind the brand, from AFL players Steve Greene and Chris Judd, to Just Jeans founder Craig Kimberley, to Young Rich list member Ryan Trainor.

Rapha

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Rapha caters to discerning cyclists with a one-stop shop that offers performance roadwear and accessories, alongside publications and events. The first Rapha collection was launched in July 2004, at a month-long Rapha exhibition of cycling memorabilia and events called “Kings of Pain.” From those humble origins, Rapha has gone on to become synonymous with the highest levels of quality and become the official clothing sponsor to Team Sky Pro Cycling.

Kirschner Brasil

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The World Cup isn’t the only cool thing happening in Brazil right now. Kirschner is the full package of cool – everything from the branding, to the photography, to the videos, to, of course, the actual clothing, is eye-catching and contemporary. For now the product line only includes short- and long-sleeved jerseys, plus t-shirts and caps with the brand’s signature mountain graphic, but there are plans to expand in the future to arm warmers, jackets and shorts.

APG Cycling

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After more than 30 years of working with the most prestigious international brands to develop hundreds of products, Verona-based APG launched their own cycling brand last year. Designed for both amateurs and pros, an impressive amount of research and testing go into creating the advanced technology behind APG’s cycling apparel. APG also offers a complete catalogue of custom clothing and accessories for cycling teams who want to design their own uniforms.

ASSOS

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Riders using ASSOS products have won well over 250 gold medals at Olympic Games, World Championships and in almost every other prestigious professional cycling race. Impressed yet? Based in Ticino “Terra di Ciclismo”, Switzerland, ASSOS was founded in 1976 with the creation of the first ever Lycra® cycling shorts. The company continues to innovate, setting industry standards (like the fastest cycling bodysuit on earth) time and time again.

Capo

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Capo was founded in 2004 by Gary Vasconi and Robert Carbone. Initially, the line-up covered technical socks and casual apparel. Over the years, product range has expanded to include a collection of men’s kits along with the launch of the Capo custom apparel program. Capo now sells its high quality, progressive designs to passionate cyclists in North America, Australia, New Zealand, Europe and the UK.

Brandt Sorenson

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After many emails from hard core cyclists we had to add Brandt Sorenson into the mix. Brandt Sorenson is luxury cycling gear that’s hand crafted in the USA and focus on quality and functionality over ease of production or cost.The Brandt Sorenson palette communicates the class and prestige of the modern athlete. If you’re a freak of nature they offer custom tailored garments to the rider’s unique dimensions in addition to standard ergonomic fit sizes.

Cafe du Cycliste

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Another addition to our list of elite cycling garments is this French brand which pitches itself on tailored technology. Cafe du Cycliste believes that presentation doesn’t need to be compromised in pursuit of performance on the road. Their range is inspired by the tradition of French cycling and hand crafted with a range of fabrics to ensure the quality lives up to the wear. There’s also a wide range of colours to choose from which will ensure you get noticed for all the right reasons.

Volero

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Designed in Australia and made in Italy, the Volero line of premium cycling gear is not for the pretender. The brand is the brainchild of two brothers who decided to fuse their passion for cycling and design. The duo are constantly designing and creating fresh cycling kits as well as updating their existing lines to ensure they stay ahead of the competition creatively. Their current summer range features lightweight fabrics, MANTODRY moisture wicking and brighter colours that resist fade under the harsh sun.

delord

delordA young group of cycling aficionados hit the roads and trails of Australia and Europe, and on the way were struck by an idea. They felt that certain characteristics of cycling goods had been widely overlooked, and that creating their own cycling apparel company was the answer. Delord delivers simplicity, style and quality with great attention to detail and a whole lot of passion. Look for the brand online and in select bike shops around the world.

6 JAPANESE MENSWEAR BRANDS WE LOVE AT THE MOMENT

There’s something undeniably special about Japanese style. There are certain heavyweight nations that are always discussed when it comes to menswear, but Japan often doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. We know in theory that it’s a nation filled with cutting-edge designs, but it’s a world that feels difficult to navigate if you’re not already on the inside. It’s time for that to change, so we’ve put together an introductory guide to some of the most iconic and interesting Japanese menswear brands in the game.

Undercover

undercoverWhen we talk about names that put Japanese style on the map, we have to mention Jun Takahashi. The legendary designer founded his label, Undercover, in 1991 while still at school and has been a fashion world favourite ever since his first runway show in 1994. His achingly cool streetwear combines elements of urban style with high fashion sophistication. The garments are inspired by youth and rebellion – they’re deconstructed, slashed, reconstituted and emblazoned with powerful graphics that make a totally punk, anti-fashion statement. Undercover is Japanese menswear at its very best.

Visvim

visvimIf you’re new to the Visvim brand, the clothes probably look like something that would be worn by a farmer from the future. In reality, the brand was founded in 2001 by designer Hiroki Nakamura and has become famous for its vintage-inspired, rustic aesthetic (and the luxury price point it’s available for). The brand has grabbed the attention of all the clothing nerds on menswear blogs, but more interestingly, it has also created unlikely fans in celebrity circles, like Eric Clapton, John Mayer, Kanye West and A$AP Rocky. Fun fact: the name means nothing, Nakamura just liked the way “vis” and “vim” looked next to each other.

Mastermind Japan

mastermind-japanMastermind Japan is responsible for an endless list of interesting collaborations, from Carhartt, to adidas, to Moncler, to Stussy. Sadly, the brand retired just after the Spring/Summer 2013 season, but that makes it no less influential. Exclusivity reigned supreme at this Japanese menswear house. Designer Masaaki Honma often produced no more than 3 of each item, which frequently featured punk-inspired graphics, unique use of raw materials and the label’s iconic skull and crossbones logo. Mastermind Japan made a special limited comeback earlier this year via the Origami commerce platform, so perhaps there’s a future for it yet.

Neighborhood

neighborhoodDesigner Shinsuke Takizawa was heavily involved in motorcycles and the surrounding counterculture when he started the Neighborhood brand in Tokyo in 1994. The concept was to craft basic clothing inspired by unique interpretations of elements from motorcycles, the military and the outdoors. The result is a collection that includes denim, leather jackets, motorcycle goods, eyewear, interior items and more. There’s even a children’s line called Neighborhood One Third, based on the idea of making Neighborhood items at 1/3 the normal size. 2009 saw the introduction of the Luker By Neighborhood line, which adds a British influence into the mix.

Nonnative

nonnativeNonnative has been crafting quality casual and contemporary clothing since the early 2000s. Founder Satoshi Saffren and designer Takayuki Fuji are inspired by a carefree and youthful lifestyle, which translates into garments inspired by work- and outerwear with subtle military hints. Nonnative’s underlying philosophy is that quality should be experienced first-hand to be fully appreciated, so expect meticulously sourced materials as standard. The aesthetic is clean, casual and functional, in a subdued colour palette of black, white, khaki, olive and navy. The collections are timeless and durable, mixed with new fabrics and inventive details to balance practicality with aesthetic.

N.Hoolywood

n.hoolywoodNo, you didn’t read that wrong. Yes, that’s the real spelling of this Japanese menswear brand. In 2000, Daisuke Obana founded the N.Hoolywood label and his store “Mister Hollywood” in the famous Harajuku district of Tokyo. His first show took place in a club in 2002, followed by the debut of N.Hoolywood Compile during Paris Fashion Week in 2007. Daisuke Obana describes himself as “an American brand geek,” an ethos that clearly comes across in his Americana-inspired collections which have referenced everything from Prohibition, to Western films, to Ernest Hemingway.

6 SCANDINAVIAN MENSWEAR BRANDS WE LOVE AT THE MOMENT

Scandinavian design is already well known in certain circles (we’re looking at you, Ikea), but the Nordic fashion sense hasn’t yet caught on in quite the same way. Fortunately, Scandinavian clothing does not have to be assembled at home and it looks awesome.

“Unpretentious,” “minimal” and “effortless” are a few of the words that come to mind when we think of the Nordic sense of style. It’s cool, but you’ll never look like you tried too hard to get that way. Here are a few of our favourite Scandinavian menswear brands currently making waves around the world.

Cool Scandinavian Menswear Brand #1 – Han Kjøbenhavn

han-kjobenhavnLike many things, Han Kjøbenhavn was conceived in spring. The brand got its start in Copenhagen on May 1, 2008 and though it may still be relatively small in scale, it has no shortage of big ideas. The Danish line’s clothing sits comfortably at the intersection of high-end streetwear and more accessible casual menswear. It’s a sophisticated look with traditional garments re-designed in a new stylish way, with the bulk of the interesting innovations in the details.

Cool Scandinavian Menswear Brand #2 – Won Hundred

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Nikolaj Nielsen, an industry vet with a strong background in denim, founded Won Hundred with the lofty goal of challenging the way fashion was perceived in his native Denmark. The brand has its roots in classical menswear and traditional formalwear, but is unafraid to take risks that defy tradition. Understated design reigns supreme at Won Hundred, where clean lines, artistic influences and a sharp eye for detail rule the day.

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Cool Scandinavian Menswear Brand #3 – Velour By Nostalgi

Built out of Per Andersson’s dead-stock vintage shop Nostalgi in Göteborg, Sweden, Velour quickly caught the eyes of the indie crowd both at home and abroad. In 2002, Nostagi’s creative fanbase inspired the Velour team to begin taking steps towards designing their own clothes and in 2005, the first Velour collection was launched. With their clean cuts, unique prints and pops of colour, it’s really no surprise the brand has made such a splash. Their chinos in particular are a must-have for a man’s closet.

Cool Scandinavian Menswear Brand #4 – Our Legacy
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Our Legacy’s founders Christopher Nying and Jockum Hallin create clothes that are “like a classic garment from your grandfather’s wardrobe, remodelled to fit our life and our time.” On one hand timeless and on the other hand modern, Our Legacy is an effortlessly cool paean to Swedish simplicity. Though they play with fabrics, colours and dyes, at its heart the brand maintains it commitment to high-quality materials and clothing that will never look like it’s trying too hard.

Cool Scandinavian Menswear Brand #5 – Ankar

ankarNiklas Ankar is a stylish Swede who turned his personal aesthetic into a casually sophisticated menswear label. Ankar cares little for current trends, but consistently puts out casually sophisticated and cool collections – think resort life mixed with 1950s and 1960s Hollywood. Classic looks, interesting details and bold colours make for a line-up that’s a little bit preppy, a little bit dandy, and always dapper. Each piece from Ankar is a well-tailored, singular item of luxury.

Cool Scandinavian Menswear Brand #6 – Norse Projects

Norse-ProjectsNorse Projects is a young company with a progressive approach to men’s fashion. What originally began as one of Copenhagen’s finest boutiques, the Norse Store, is now a full-scale label with a collection that focuses on performance, quality and functionality. The menswear – which includes a broad range of technical and outerwear, rainwear and premium sportswear – is both traditional and ultra-modern, with just the right amount of Scandinavian style thrown in.

5 WATCH BRANDS WE’RE LOVING AT THE MOMENT

In the 21st century, the epitome of cool is knowing something before anyone else discovers it. That’s why it’s tough for us to reveal the names of some of our favourite lesser known watch brands, but in the long run we believe you deserve to be sporting one of their amazing timepieces on your wrist and that trumps our craving for coolness any day.

Below we’re spilling the beans on 5 hidden gem watch brands around the world.

Cool Watch Brand #1 – NOMOS Glashütte

NOMOS Glashütte Ludwig AutomatikNOMOS Glashütte is a small independent watchmaker located in a tiny German town that specializes in manual-winding and automatic mechanical watches. The company was founded in January 1990, two months after the fall of the Berlin Wall, by Roland Schwertner. In its early years, NOMOS Glashütte focused on manufacturing mechanical watches with hand-wound, Swiss-made movements, but since 2005, NOMOS has been designing and producing its watch movements in-house (which is almost unheard of at this price point). These timepieces are steeped in watchmaking tradition, so though they may not be expensive, they are certainly rich in heritage and elegance.

Cool Watch Brand #2 – MeisterSinger

MeisterSingerMeisterSinger is a name that’s still unknown outside of hardcore watch-loving circles, but its unique brand philosophy is one that deserves your attention. What makes MeisterSinger stand out? Its watches, of course, which have only one hand. While other brands are adding complex complications to make their timepieces cool, MeisterSinger is stripping them back to basics.

Manfred Brassler founded the company in 2001 to create clear, consistent and simple measuring instruments at affordable prices. The concept is just as fresh today as it was when it was introduced more than a decade ago.

Cool Watch Brand #3 – Van Der Gang

Van-der-gangPassion, detail and craftsmanship are all of utmost importance to Van Der Gang. The small, high-end Dutch watch brand is located in the historic town of Dokkum, in the north of The Netherlands, where it builds parts at a microscopic level used in spaceflight and medical facilities.

Van Der Gang’s approach to watchmaking focuses on the simple elegance of a well-balanced design with no dominating features. The result is a collection of watches that are understated but filled with refined details that are appreciated when you look up close.

Cool Watch Brand #4 – Bremont

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Bremont is a name more likely to be familiar to our readers. The award-winning British company produces impressively engineered chronometers out of their HQ in Henley on Thames, England. The company’s journey began in 2002 when, inspired by their love of flying historic aircraft, a pair of brothers set out to create a line of high-quality pilot’s watches.

The timepieces in their classic range are all COSC-certified and hand built in limited numbers. Their technical mastery, innovation, precision, reliability and durability consistently impress.

Cool Watch Brand #5 – Junghans

JunghansIn April of 1861, Erhard Junghans created a company with his brother-in-law. By 1903, that company had become the largest watch and clock factory in the world. These days, Junghans produces timepieces that blend tradition with modernity and outstanding manufacturing quality.

A Junghans watch will remain with a single watchmaker or a small team of specialists, who are fully responsible for its development from the first moment onwards, all the way through to power reserve fine-tuning and final water-resistance testing. Junghans watches live up to every German stereotype about efficiency and quality.

5 BRITISH MENSWEAR BRANDS WE’RE LOVING AT MOMENT

There’s a massive resurgence in the popularity of good ole Made in England brands. Bolstered by the new generation of shoppers who are looking for less mass produced ‘fast fashion’ and more well- made and timeless pieces, these brands are proving that good design, and an emphasis on quality product can still turn a pretty profit.

Whether it be buying or selling, here are some of the labels making waves in the international menswear market. If you’re interested in supporting these small businesses as much as I am, check out the links and shop away!

Private White V.C – A relative new kid on the block, Private White V.C was born in Manchester from the memory of a returned wartime serviceman. Specializing in outer & utility wear, PW’s pieces are not only built to last but also to endure. This brand has become the prime example of quality British quality. (WWW)

Albam – A must-go destination for all of your basic men’s staples e.g. awesome raw jeans, seamless t-shirts and some great rugged knitwear too. These guys have 2 stores in London and they sell out of their jeans pretty much every week. I rate Albam number one for value for money & quality. (WWW)

Justin Deakin Shoes – I remember visiting this store when it opened in 2010 and I thought “Awesome shoes!” I also thought “I hope it stays open” and indeed it has. These shoes are designed and handmade in London. The leathers and unique detailing such as silk grosgrain trim take Justin’s designs to another level. Go in and get yourself a pair! (WWW)

London Undercover – We all know about London’s reputation for being under a constant raincloud. Needless to say, England manufactures some of the best umbrellas in the world. The aptly named London Undercover uses a great mix of bright fabrics and tough frames to make for an umbrella that will last you a lifetime. (WWW) 

Lock & Co. Hatters – Most notable for their top hats, Lock & Co.’s range doesn’t end there. Established in 1676, they continue to sell the finest in Panama, Bowler & Fedora from around the world. Lock has been responsible for some of the most iconic hat wearing looks around e.g. Charlie Chaplin & Winston Churchill to name a few. (WWW)