In the past few years, brands such as COS and & Other Stories — both of which opened in New York City last year — have become the go-to for the fashion and budget conscious. These mid-range brands offer pared down clothing that makes for a sleek aesthetic without being a blatant designer knockoff. In terms of pricing and quality, these stores sit between Zara and brands like Acne Studios, harnessing the simplicity to deliver a clean look that even Vogue loves. Check out these five brands for sophisticated pieces that will not leave your wallet or conscience reeling.
Unlike their parent company H&M’s disposable fast-fashion, COS clothes look somewhere between Céline and T by Alexander Wang, with a nod to Jil Sander. COS is a minimalist’s godsent. The basic idea is you can stock up on tees and knits that are contemporary without being garishly trendy, sticking to a mostly black, grey, white and sometimes blue color scheme. COS’ New York location, which opened to much fanfare earlier this year, is well worth a visit even if you don’t plan on buying anything — partly because there’s a good chance you’ll change your mind.
& Other Stories
Another H&M affiliate, & Other Stories also celebrated a recent New York opening. Catering to women, the brand offers loose, sporty designs that are often paired with Nikes for the sporty, yet classy, look that has been the style for the last few seasons. You will find some prints here, but not the cheap, tacky kinds that cater to teenage Tumblr junkies. & Other Stories is also known for its collaborations with up-and-coming designers, including London-based Sadie Williams and Moscow-based Vika Gazinskaya, which consistently makes it one of the most relevant brands around.
While GANT, which was launched in New Haven, Connecticut in 1949, is much older than & Other Stories and COS, the brand is far from out of touch. True to its New England heritage, styles lean preppy but never feel costumey — think trendier J Crew. Button-ups for both guys and girls are staple of their brand, with styles ranging from business casual to yatch-club-chic. In keeping up with the recent prevalence of menswear trends, the brand collaborated with Michael Bastian in spring and summer 2014.
Founded in 1985, Massimo Duty is — somewhat confusingly — a Spanish company with an Italian name that does not actually refer to a fashion designer or a single person. Originally limited to menswear, the brand launched a women’s line in 1992. With slim-fitting leather racing jackets and zip-up sweaters, the brand evokes the Italian luxury its name suggests. The suits are clean, and will certainly make the cut for your first interview.
A version of this article appeared in the Wednesday, Feb. 18 print edition. Email Sam Del Rowe at [email protected]