When buying clothing, it can be difficult to know where exactly your money goes. Does it help pay for that small-batch selvedge denim fabric your jeans are made from? Does it cover the time-intensive labour that went into its production? Chances are it’s a bit of both.
There’s also a high chance it will go on absolutely nothing. Many of the most well-known clothing brands markup their prices by five or six times, charging well above what would be considered a reasonable amount. You’re often just paying for the brand’s name and the cachet that supposedly comes with that.
This can be frustrating if you’re just after well-made, thoughtfully designed wardrobe staples. Which is where direct-to-consumer (DTC) brands come in. These independents cut out the middle man, selling directly to the customer at price points that are often far more respectable.
What Is Direct To Consumer?
A direct-to-consumer brand is, quite simply, one that sells directly to its customers. It does this through its own website, eschewing the traditional form of retail which involves stockists or wholesalers.
Typically, a DTC brand will manage the entire supply chain, working directly with factories for production, while also marketing and selling everything in house. This allows them to have complete control over their brand, and usually means the customer enjoys a healthy discount by cutting out the middleman.
In working independently, DTC brands can charge less for their goods as they’re saving money elsewhere. They don’t pay any external companies for services, and often don’t even have bricks-and-mortar stores, so customers are only paying for their production and design of a garment, plus a small markup.
11 DTC Menswear Brands You Should Know
Asket has always prided itself on producing simple, well-made wardrobe staples. If you’re in the market for the perfect pair of jeans, or the best-fitting T-shirt, this is the place to go.
Everything it makes is entirely traceable, as the brand keeps track of its entire supply chain in order to calculate the impact of its products.
It also reveals the price of each detail of every garment, from the raw materials to the trim and packaging, so you know exactly where your money’s going.
For beautifully designed knitwear, shirts and shoes with an Italian inspired slant, Aurelien is for you.
These are smart casual pieces that can be dressed up or down with ease, and they’re virtually interchangeable, with each item complementing the next.
It also eschews the middle man, selling direct to consumers to give customers far better value for money than comparable designer brands in the space.
Luca Faloni is well regarded for its knitwear – specifically its cashmere garments, which are among the best in the world (not an exaggeration).
With a focus on exceptional materials and tailored, flattering fits, you’d be hard pressed to find a better knitted polo or roll neck anywhere else on earth.
The brand sources its fabrics Italy’s best mills – including Cariaggi, Grandi & Rubinelli and Veneto – and only uses artisans to make its products, so you can be sure the quality is as good as it gets.
Flax London knows what it does best and it doesn’t stray too far from that. Like a great neighbourhood restaurant that has a focussed, well curated menu, Flax puts all of its attention into a small selection of garments all made from linen.
And not just any linen. The finest quality linen sourced from mills like Baird McNutt in Northern Ireland.
It works exclusively with linen partly because of its versatility, but also because of its sustainable qualities. And of course, each piece is delivered directly from the factory.
Founded in 2014 in Denmark, Foret keeps things simple, offering quality outdoors-inspired clothing at accessible prices.
The Danish brand is constantly developing new ways and processes designed to improve its sustainability, and in owning control of its entire supply chain, it manages this better than the vast majority of labels out there.
Form & Thread
Form & Thread works to the motto of ‘less, but better’, and this ethos is clear to see in its small, focussed collections.
The British label doesn’t make a huge amount of clothing, but what it does do, it does exceptionally well. Each piece is designed to be completely timeless and not at the mercy of fashion’s whims, meaning these items will look just as good now as they do in five years’ time.
The brand has also developed close relationships with a select few factories, meaning the quality and attention to detail is second to none.
Based in Portugal, ISTO channels a relaxed elegance into every one of its pieces. From work shirts through to field jackets, the brand prides itself on its refined fits and expertly sourced fabrics.
It only works with factories that adhere to the highest standards for working practices, while many of its items are completely traceable, allowing you to see how much they cost to make and the resulting mark up.
L’Estrange doesn’t make many clothes, and that’s the point. You won’t find pages and pages of designs on its website, but what it chooses to produce has been thought through in impressive detail.
Its pieces are labelled as ‘modular’, meaning they’re designed to complement each other, requiring less thought for the wearer. Plus, thanks to its direct-to-consumer model, they’re available for far cheaper than you’d typically find elsewhere.
Morjas might be the best footwear brand you’ve never heard of. Inspired by both the Mediterranean and Scandinavia, the shoemaker prides itself on its outstanding craftsmanship and classic designs, which are made in some of Europe’s finest shoe factories and workshops.
From loafers to boots, Morjas designs are clean, timeless and affordable – the latter thanks to its DTC model.
Italian through and through, Velasca is well known for its beautifully crafted loafers and suede chukka boots.
Founded in 2013 with the idea of partnering with local artisans in the renowned Marche region of Italy, Velasca’s direct-to-consumer model has served it well, with its high-quality welted shoes coming in at half the price of many of its competitors.
Wax London is incredibly open about the way it goes about its business. On its website you’ll find lots of information about suppliers, its sustainable development goals and what it hopes to achieve by selling direct to consumers.
It’s a refreshing approach that’s only made better by the accessible, beautifully designed wardrobe staples it produces season after season.