When it comes to dressing for summer, it’s often more about the fabric and fit than it is the actual garment. After all, there’s only so much you can wear in the heat. You’re usually restricted to a combination of T-shirts/polos with shorts and sandals/slip-ons, and that’s it.
Where the difference lies is with how comfortable these garments make you feel. Is the fabric lightweight and breathable so you don’t overheat? Is the fit relaxed so you don’t feel restricted, yet still flattering enough to make you look and feel good? That’s where investing in the right brands comes in.
From the highest quality T-shirts on the market to the most comfortable leather sandals, these are the leading summer clothing brands for men.
This British heritage brand has been around for over 150 years, so it’s fair to say it knows a thing or two about making T-shirts. However, where Sunspel really stands apart from its contemporaries is with its choice of materials, which are always lightweight and focus on comfort and breathability.
Its cotton jersey classic tees are superb all year round, but the linen blends offer an even more summer-friendly alternative.
Based in California and inspired by the diverse nature of the US state, James Perse is well known for its elevated takes on wardrobe essentials. With a focus on softness and fabrics that not only feel good but are engineered to last, the brand’s T-shirts are among the best you’ll find anywhere.
Available in long and short sleeves, a wide range of washed-out hues and flattering relaxed fits, they’re perfect for enduring the high summer heat.
Founded in Milan, proudly Italian brand Ripa Ripa produces some of the most interesting ready-to-wear shirts around. Inspired by the relaxed elegance of the Italian Riviera, the brand’s shirts feature open neck Cuban collars, handy pockets and incredibly soft linen fabrics, which only get softer with wear.
Each of its garments is handmade in Naples at a renowned workshop, guaranteeing the quality, while the designs channel a certain mid-century elegance that wouldn’t look out of place in films like Le Plein Soleil.
With a focus on sustainable production and timeless design, ISTO produces garments that’ll look as good in 20 years’ time as they do now. It specialises in classic shirting, with a range spanning everything from striped Oxford button-downs to summer-weight wool overshirts to seersucker Cuban collar shirts.
Made responsibly in Portugal by expert local artisans, ISTO might be the only place you need to visit if you’re looking to overhaul your summer shirt rotation.
Known for its playful takes on British classics, Percival is always on our radar when it comes to eccentric yet versatile garments that are ideal for wearing throughout summer and beyond. Its lightweight knits consist of soft, patterned polos, loud short sleeve button throughs and comfortable crew necks, all of which are ideal for dressing up with pleated chinos, or down with drawstring shorts and sneakers.
Scott Fraser Collection
Scott Fraser Collection has quickly made a name for itself as the go-to destination for vintage, mid-century-style knitwear. Evoking a lost age of glamour, the London-based brand focusses on classic patterned knits ranging from panelled designs to reproductions of iconic shirts in film.
If you want to channel your own slice of The Talented Mr Ripley, or you just want to spice up your summer knitwear game, this is the place to go.
Vilebrequin has been producing its summer staples since 1971, and from the very beginning it’s always placed great emphasis on fabric and fit. Its shirts are made from the finest linen and cotton, while its swim shorts are crafted from recycled polyamide, which is treated to ensure faster drying.
The brand has become renowned for its unique prints, which vary from artist designed patterns to its trademark turtle motifs, but whether you go for something loud or understated, you’ll struggle to find better-made swim shorts anywhere.
Orlebar Brown has quickly become a staple resortwear brand for stylish men, with everything from its shirts to its shorts designed with warm weather in mind.
However, its tailored swim shorts are what it’s best known for. The first brand to start producing tailored designs that were constructed like a trouser, complete with side adjusters and a zip fly, OB a market leader in the category for good reason.
Look out for its signature printed designs, which range from geometric prints to photographic scenes, as well as its timeless block-colour shorts, which look as good away from the pool as they do in it.
If there’s just one store you’re going to shop at for all your summer wardrobe, J.Crew might be your best bet. The US brand offers an extensive range of warm-weather clothing, all of which makes use of interesting fabrics and considered fits to flatter a range of body types.
Its shorts are a particular highlight. Expect everything from tailored linen-blend shorts to perfectly fitting chino shorts in a range of colours from stone through to more vibrant shades.
While perhaps more well known for its iconic snap pullovers and banker-friendly gilets, Patagonia’s range of shorts are well worth considering. It offers a functional range of designs, all of which draw from the brand’s hiking and outdoors expertise, making them especially useful for day’s out or active vacations where practical zipped pockets are a must.
Often available with comfortable drawstring waistbands and durable, waterproof nylon fabrics, these are shorts that will perform as well as they look good.
A staple offering that never fails, regardless of which season you’re shopping for, Uniqlo is always among our first port of calls for considered wardrobe staples.
Its trouser offering is consistently among the best you’ll find at this price point, with designs ranging from relaxed drawstring trousers through to smarter, pleated styles that work well with tailoring.
For summer you can expect lightweight fabrics like linen, cotton and lyocell, as well as styles ranging from slim chinos to wide-legged, baker-style trousers.
COS has long been our go-to for a more directional take on wardrobe staples. Although priced slightly higher than other high street brands, its designs mimic those from labels at a much higher price point, so when it comes to its trouser collection you can expect details like concealed pockets, twin reverse pleats and half elasticated waistbands.
For summer legwear that is smart yet still relaxed and laid back, it’s well worth checking out.
Summer tailoring is notoriously tricky. The key is to source blazers and trousers cut from lightweight fabrics and with soft, unstructured fits that won’t weigh you down. That’s why Brunello Cucinelli is such a special brand. The Italian powerhouse is a cult favourite among those who value craftsmanship and subtle design traits, from the soft curve of a patch pocket to the subtle pleating of a jacket’s shoulder.
Of course, you have to be able to afford it too, but if budget isn’t a concern then there is no better option for summer tailoring than Brunello.
At the more wallet-friendly end of the scale, but no less stylish, Reiss has developed a well-deserved reputation for its slim-fitting, well-crafted tailoring. Expertly-chosen fabrics, flattering cuts and a focus on soft construction makes its suiting collection ideal for the warmer months.
If you’re planning on attending a summer wedding, or need an adaptable suit you can easily split into separates, Reiss will serve you well.
The Resort Co
Arguably the perfect summer shoe, espadrilles are smarter than sandals yet equally as comfortable. Among the best brands to do them is The Resort Co, which crafts theirs in the spiritual birthplace of espadrilles: the Basque Country.
Expect premium Spanish suede stitched onto the traditional esparto rope sole, which is linen with microfibre for added comfort.
Mulo is another espadrille specialist, although it leans slightly more contemporary in look and feel. Taking the classic silhouette as a starting point, the brand brings its espadrilles up to date using a minimal upper shape crafted from luxurious fabrics like suede and linen.
While its soles boast a linen braiding that mimics traditional construction, it also features a rubber bottom for increased durability and grip on all surfaces.
An underrated shoemaker, Sebago has long been producing expertly crafted, timeless designs from its home in the US.
Perhaps better known for its quality leather boat shoes, its actually the loafers we have a penchant for. Made to time honoured American traditions with a stitched sole and classic ‘beef roll’ stitching either side of the vamp, Sebago’s penny loafers are some of the best you’ll find at this price point.
Another company with a long history of making loafers, G.H. Bass claims to have invented the original penny loafer design (and who are we to disagree?). Known as the ‘Weejun’, the brand still produces the iconic silhouette today in much the same way it always has, although anecdotal reports seem to indicate that the quality of production and leather used isn’t quite as it used to be.
Taking a slightly more fashion-forward direction in recent years, if you’re after a versatile, chunky-soled penny loafer, this heritage maker could be the brand for you.
Birkenstock has almost a byword for ‘sandals‘, such is their popularity and pedigree. The brand’s simple, well-made designs are built to last and make use of well sourced materials like waxed leather, nubuck, suede and a sustainable leather alternative that’s becoming increasingly sought after.
However, above all else, Birkenstocks are just supremely comfortable – with its shaped cork soles famously moulding to the wearer’s feet over time. The brand’s Arizona model is the classic design, and for ultimate versatility, the one to go for.
Russell and Bromley
Although it built its reputation off the back of smarter leather shoes like Oxfords and Derbies, Russell & Bromley’s sandal range is an insider’s secret.
Its beautifully constructed fisherman style sandals are among the best you’ll find anywhere, with their intricately woven leather straps and hardwearing soles able to stand up to daily summer use. The style is surprisingly adaptable too, combining as well with tailored trousers and an Oxford shirt as it does shorts and a polo.
In a relatively short space of time Cubitts has become one of the preeminent eyewear brands in the world. This is largely to do with its classic, easy-to-wear designs that draw from decades of experience, as well as its impressive construction and accessible price points, which undercut many of the more established names in the luxury glasses space.
Each of its designs are crafted from cellulose acetate and feature pre-drilled rivets and charniere hinges, while classic frame shapes ranging from keyhole styles through to square, 60s-inspired designs ensure there’s something for everyone.
With an impressive history that dates back to 1917, Persol is among the world’s premier glasses manufacturers. Its timeless designs have garnered plenty of attention over the decades, while unofficial endorsements from the likes of Steve McQueen and Anthony Bourdain have long cemented the brand’s lore.
For classic, keyhole shapes and tortoiseshell-style sunglasses, Persol is hard to beat.