A lot of great new labels arrived on the scene in 2011—the most we’ve seen in recent memory—so we thought we’d give a much-deserved victory lap to our five favorites. They range from homegrown Italiana to biker-tough outerwear, and they’ve been pulling together some of the most exciting ideas in menswear and making clued-in gentlemen look like rock stars from February on. If you were waiting for a chance to get acquainted, now’s the time.

Ovadia & Sons

Count on two Garment District-raised twins to distill every trend in menswear into a single collection. Skim over this lookbook and you’ll see a piece of everything 2011 had to offer: the DB blazer, the cutaway collar, the slim-cut cargo, the double monk, the turtleneck and the shawl-collar cardigan, just for starters. Add in construction help from the legendary Martin Greenfield, and even the Americana folks can get on board. This isn’t a label; it’s a menswear peace summit.

Perfecto by Schott

The Schott motorcycle jacket is one of the most iconic pieces Americana has to offer, so it’s no easy thing to create a whole line of outerwear that stands up alongside it. Designer Greg Chapman pulled it off, balancing Garden State authenticity with traditional British fabrics like Harris Tweed and blackwatch plaid wool. The Cone Mills pea coats are our favorite example: warm, classic and indestructible. They arrived in February, but already feel like they’ve been here for years.

Ian Velardi

Anyone who brings a full-scale racing suit to a tradeshow is alright in our book. It’s a more rugged take on formalwear—just what you’d expect from a guy who cut his teeth at Hickey Freeman and Rogues Gallery—and it led to some of the year’s best unconstructed blazers. The down-to-earth end of the italophile spectrum turns out to be a pretty interesting place.

BLK DNM

Johan Lindeberg has been kicking around the industry for a while—from his time at Diesel to his much-loved J. Lindeberg brand that just celebrated its 15th birthday—but it wasn’t until the launch of BLK DNM that we saw his wild side. Along with the minimalist Nordic suiting, there were suddenly greaser-ready moto jackets, marled crewnecks that go toe-to-toe with APC and, with the help of Moscot, some of the coolest sunglasses we saw all year. So far, we’d say it suits him.

Todd Snyder

This one’s the rare collection that could have come to market any time in the last ten years—and looked just as sharp whenever it landed. Snyder specializes in menswear staples that don’t go out of style, like tweed pants, weathered sweatshirts and British inspired suiting. And since he trained with the mass-market maestros at J.Crew and Ralph Lauren, he knows how to make staples sharp without making them trendy. Oh, and he also makes a lambskin jacket that might be the most handsome thing we’ve seen all year.

Your move, 2012.

—R.B.

CONTRIBUTORS

  • Russell Brandom