In theory, technical fashion is a very simple concept. What sounds better than crafting versatile garments from nothing short of the best materials imaginable? This notion has been tackled by many, which is why technical jackets have been crafted by the likes of countless high-end brands, like Tom Ford, Givenchy, and Dolce & Gabanna, leading many to believe that this branch of style is just now coming into vogue. The thing is, though, techwear has been around for a while, and the brands who’ve perfected the form aren’t just riding some trend. There are a handful of designers who’ve garnered a granted reception for the mark they’ve left on this particular field, while some others have gone a tad bit overlooked. In the meantime, there is an onslaught of hungry newcomers looking to make just as big a name for themselves in the space, which is why we deemed it necessary to create a comprehensive guide to the best techwear brands out there right now.
While big brands like Stone Island and Arc’teryx have ultimately grown to stand head and shoulders above the rest of the competition from a name-recognition standpoint, a number of others have dedicated themselves to the craft of creating optimized attire for any environment. The majority of these brands’ mission statements often hinge on the idea of crafting innovative pieces composed of optimal materials, and many of these labels manage to pull it off with rightfully meticulous craftsmanship. So, let’s get technical and get into our picks for the 15 best techwear brands you should know.
This South Korean brand personifies the sheer ethos of “lowkey.” Be that as it may, little branding and even lesser hype provide a whole lot of appeal. An onslaught of 0608WEAR’s garments makes use of MOLLE webbing, a tactical textile that makes room for convenient compartments for all of your gear. Luckily, those looking to get in on this design-centric attire don’t have to worry about overspending on insulated jackets and waterproof pants, seeing as another great attribute that 0608WEAR has to offer is its premier gear doesn’t come equipped with an exorbitant price tag.
As one of the countless footprints left by the late Virgil Abloh, A-COLD-WALL* came to fruition by way of one of the revered designer’s proteges, Samuel Ross. The brand garners its inspiration from youth culture and a contemporary design language built to function among all societies. As a former member of DONDA, Kanye West’s company aimed toward creative content, Ross brought that same minimalist approach to a chic catalog of technical outerwear that could easily be pinned as streetwear, but it’s not all that simple. On top of that, if Kanye’s stamp of approval isn’t enough of a co-sign for you, ACW has collaborated with the likes of Nike, Dr. Martens, and even Beats by Dre.
ACRONYM is not an entry-level name by any means, albeit it finds itself near the top of this list (blame the alphabet). The Munich-bred brand was founded back in 1994 and has remained a prominent name in the design world ever since — and when we say design, we mean the sector in its entirety, not just fashion. The pair of designers at the brand’s helm — Michaela Sachenbacher and Errolson Hugh — have even managed to garner themselves a spot in TIME magazine for designing Burton’s state-of-the-art Analog MD Clone Jacket, whose interior composition came equipped with a Sony mini-disc player and digital music player. At the end of the day, ACRONYM is all about the highest levels of innovation and absolutely no less, so its inclusion comes as no surprise.
Few brands manage to pull off form and function in as fluid a fashion as Arc’Teryx, a company initially founded by a couple of Canadian climbers. Its catalog can be seen on everyone from social media influencers to hardcore outdoorsmen, so it serves as one of the more ubiquitous names on this list. The label’s coveted GORE-TEX-clad pieces have grown to serve as its respective flagship garments, making use of immaculate waterproof technology while maintaining a fashion-forward appeal. Seeing as the Archaeopteryx logo spans far and wide, there is no choice but to keep this revered name in mind.
For fashion fanatics familiar with Massimo Osti, this should come as no surprise. C.P. Company was the Italian garment engineer’s initial brainchild, spawning in 1971, eleven years before Osti ultimately created an even more renowned brand: Stone Island. There are few names to trust in this distinct field of garments more than those from the late designer. While it’s up for relative debate, C.P. touts itself as “the original Italian sportswear brand,” and it’s difficult to argue with that, seeing as though it’s been around for over five decades without many genuine predecessors. Pioneering aside, its name is held in high regard as a result of its well-crafted tactile outerwear, few of which are more nameworthy than the Goggle Jacket.
Descente’s wide array of Alps-appropriate attire has been in play dating back to 1935. While its enviously warm clothing is worth discussing in its own right, the Japanese brand’s ALLTERRAIN sector provides a much more tailored approach to modern technical gear and is far more wearable when you don’t find yourself out on the slopes. Descente ALLTERRAIN doesn’t keep a surfeit of factors in mind, as it is not a brand that hinges on the likes of age-specific trends or particular junctures in time, but merely a group of contemporary thinkers looking to deliver nothing short of “timeless craftsmanship,” which has consistently proved to be an epochal formula.
Isaora is urban performance epitomized, and it’s easy to understand what’s necessary for that department when based in a metropolitan jungle like the heart of New York. While it was merely founded in 2008, the humble brand has fused top-tier textiles with a sleek design built for the big city. Garnering a plethora of inspiration from the allure of nature and unpredictability of adventure, Isaora’s been delivering on a top-notch blend of form and function since its conception, and we expect nothing short of that in the years moving forward.
When seeking elemental protection, it’s simple to trust a name whose mission statement garners inspiration from water itself. Herno Laminar is one of the many high-end brands with a humbling origin story. It all started in 1948 with an immaculately-crafted raincoat and has ultimately become one of the leading names in sportswear, not to mention the most fashionable, depending on whom you ask. Regardless, the brand has excelled at crafting luxurious outerwear for nearly 70 years. From sleek, weatherized GORE-TEX coats to gorgeous, water-repellent, down-filled cashmere blazers, Herno’s outerwear has something for everyone, let alone every occasion.
There is very little that Nike tends to do wrong, and the same applies to its All Conditions Gear line, too. If there’s anyone we look to for premier performance wear, it’s impossible to overlook the Nike legends, no matter what sport you find yourself partaking in. The brand’s ACG subbrand began as a product series in its Hiking brand, the latter of which was introduced back in the early eighties. In the years that followed, Nike’s catalog of trail-ready footwear took on a life of its own and it had no choice but to branch out even further. Aimed toward more extreme activities, like rock climbing and mountain biking, ACG boasts an eclectic lineup of durable sneakers and cozy parkas that make immaculate use of Nike’s constantly cutting-edge materials and technologies.
Although many of these brands hail from overseas, OUTLIER is one of the few that also claims terrain in the states — in New York City, no less. The brand’s founders, Abe Burmeister and Tyler Clemens, kicked things off back in 2008. Clemens had a bevy of experience in custom tailoring, while Burmeister’s background in graphic design assisted in putting the brand’s aesthetically in-tune website together. In the years that followed, OUTLIER has become one of the top-tier names in trustworthy workout clothes and versatile urban casual wear that are composed of ideal, lightweight materials like merino wool, as well as a number of proprietary technical fabrics that the brand really loves nerding out over. Whether you’re a gym-goer or a subway commuter, OUTLIER has something in store for anyone.
Riot Division’s standard for sheer coolness is set pretty high, and that’s put on full display by way of its voguish lookbooks. The brand’s awareness of what it takes to combat frigid climates is a result of its founding in the capital of Ukraine, as it is the country’s initial brand that crafted technical gear, and its founders haven’t looked back since. Based around “curiosity, adaptation, modularity, transformation ability, and high technological quality,” Riot Division’s values are seamlessly exuded through its near-ceaseless portfolio, which features tactical-inspired overshirts and metalized nylon running pants. Above all else, the brand prides itself on its accessibility.
Stone Island Shadow Project
Shadow Project came to shape back in 2008, serving as a brainchild of Stone Island CEO Carlo Rivetti and the aforementioned design team behind ACRONYM. Taking all that information into account, it’s safe to assume that Stone Island’s subbrand can do virtually no wrong, and there’s truly no argument against that. Upon conceptualizing Shadow Project, Rivetti and the ACRONYM duo vowed for this branch to aim for innovation and experimentation, with the former claiming it to be “our Formula 1.” The trio of designers has since come together to deliver refined pieces crafted from premier performance fabrics and a sense of couture-esque boldness.
The North Face Black Series
Surely, if you’re taking time to read this, you’re beyond familiar with The North Face and might be on the prowl for a different name in top-notch outerwear. Well, the heritage brand doesn’t fall far from the technical tree, and it tailored an entire branch of clothing geared toward optimizing pieces for any environment, whether it’s the great outdoors or the heart of the city. The Black Series took shape in 2020 and is composed of a collection of technologically ideal elements that have come to form via sleek, forward-thinking designs. Although it appears to be the newest name on this guide, Black Series garments are highly coveted and increasingly rare, so make sure to keep an eye out if you’re looking to snag a new coat.
While you may not catch it at first glance, Veilance shares a lot in common with the previous two brands. Barring the fact that each one excels in its field, the Canadian outfitter is a subbrand itself, serving as a feather in Arc’Teryx’s corporate wing. Veilance’s minimalist approach toward weatherized performance is the core of its mission statement, and the brand has managed to do so with an unsaturated sense of innovation every step of the way. Its catalog boasts everything from nylon coats geared toward tackling tepid forecasts to heavy-duty jackets that utilize GORE C-KNIT technology courtesy of the waterproof wizards over at GORE-TEX. Although all of the brands listed here are worth your time, Veilance is one that consistently manages to set itself apart due to its unabiding meticulous approach.
White Mountaineering is another name that falls somewhere along the streetwear spectrum, but the Japanese brand’s beyond sufficient usage of premier materials paves the way for far more than that. Since hitting the scene back in 2006, founder Yosuke Aizawa has made his admiration for fashion-forwardness extremely prevalent, consistently fusing technical textiles like Polartec fleece and GORE-TEX membranes with a staunch sense of style. White Mountaineering has collaborated with the likes of UNIQLO, Danner, and even Disney, all the while managing to deliver their trademark quality and utility on each one.
The 15 Best Athleisure Brands to Know
If you’re aiming to familiarize yourself with more practical brands for the sake of a stylishly functional lifestyle, then we’ve got another set of names to keep an eye out for. We took a hard look at the options and pinned down the best athleisure labels from which to pick up your new WFH clothes.
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