You're never truly dressed without a pair of Persol sunglasses
February 16, 2012 4:51 AM   Subscribe

Tell me about high-quality, (i.e. more than just a designer name) classic, luxury accessories.

This is sort of a follow-up to this question I asked a while back. I'd like to learn more about high-end accessories for both men and women. Gloves, hats, jewellery, cufflinks, scarves, sunglasses, bags, whatever. Things which may be expensive, but which also radiate and possess good workmanship and emphasize timeless taste and quality rather than just sporting an expensive trendy logo. (Think Grace Kelly and Steve McQueen rather than Blake Lively and Joe Jonas.)
posted by ladybird to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (23 answers total) 52 users marked this as a favorite
HM QEII never goes anywhere without her Launer handbag. It's the ne plus ultra of such things, and exemplary in their craftsmanship. They start at £500.

Coach used to be that way, for the UMC. If you see any of their pre-1990s wares, they were simple, well-made wallets and purses, with no logos, great leathers, excellent stitching, solidly constructed brass fittings, etc., but now they're a bit, well... those logos! Ugh. I have some vintage Coach bags from the 1960s and 1970s and they're wonderful. I'll never buy their new styles.
posted by droplet at 5:09 AM on February 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

There is definite overlap between Grace Kelly and Blake Lively, though. The classic European designers are still "cool". Some labels are Bottega Veneta (and if you want to be authentic, say "VENN-ay-ta" not "ven-AY-ta") and Hermes ("air-MEZ"). Louis Vuitton (VWEE-tah).

Sorry if you already know how to pronounce them.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:14 AM on February 16, 2012

I would not call Coach luxury. They were always middling. I agree that they became horribly vulgar somewhere along the line. There was even a New Yorker article about this recently.
posted by DMelanogaster at 5:16 AM on February 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

Filson's Tin Cruiser coat is timeless, IMHO, as is their Mackinaw wool vest.
posted by MonkeyToes at 5:34 AM on February 16, 2012

To me, the most elegant thing in the world is bespoke tailoring and shoes. John Lobb shoes for men are dreamy. The best-dressed gazillionaire women I have met had their shoes made for them "by the sweetest little man in Florence."

I think Italian Vogue and L'uomo Vogue consistently showcase the highest-end, highest-quality accessories, much more than their counterparts in other countries.
posted by Sidhedevil at 5:40 AM on February 16, 2012

Careful on Vuitton, anything post mid 90s is going to be noticibily poorer made then the vintage stuff.
posted by The Whelk at 5:44 AM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

For men, Freeman's Sporting club has a line of very simple, very elegant hand made ties.

On the other end, a classic Liberty's silk tie is like a slice of spring.
posted by The Whelk at 5:46 AM on February 16, 2012

Also, Hermes scarves are works of art, they cost that much for a reason, they literally cannot make any more per year using the traditional methods.
posted by The Whelk at 5:52 AM on February 16, 2012

S.T. Dupont might interest you. Cufflinks, lighters, pens, leather good, etc.
posted by Funky Claude at 6:28 AM on February 16, 2012

Swaine Adeney Brigg for leather accessories

Globe Trotter luggage

As far as sunglasses go, I think Randolph Engineering sunglasses say, "I just want a high quality solid pair of good looking sunglasses, and I don't care about a fancy brandname."

Think Grace Kelly and Steve McQueen

Barbour, of course!
posted by deanc at 6:45 AM on February 16, 2012 [3 favorites]

Maybe Coach doing downhill is why my mil was able to buy herself a wallet, and one for me. (For what it's worth, it was being toted around in a twelve dollar handbag from Target for a long while.) It's a pretty great wallet. Yes, it is covered in the logo, but it's a two-tone brown on brown thing, so it's not irritating.
posted by PussKillian at 7:04 AM on February 16, 2012

I see a lot of people on the tube carrying Mulberry bags. Personally I can't bring myself to spend £500 on something that has no moving components, but they seem to be very popular, very understated and apparently well made.

Louis Vuitton in the UK, like Burberry, has got a reputation as a 'chav' (lower class) brand, partially due to the wealth of knockoffs. So although luxury might be what you're shooting for, some products have connotations beyond their cost and point of sale. Barbour, or Barbour-like, coats are currently a big mainstream trend here and the opinion on those is turning the same way. Of course, the truly stylish do not give a monogrammed shit about such things.

If I was very rich, I would get a hat made by Phillip Treacy, because I just like hats. He's well reknowned enough to have been the subject of a V+A exhibition.
posted by mippy at 7:11 AM on February 16, 2012

Friend: Wolford for stockings is the gold standard - their stuff is high quality and incredibly beautiful and expensive
posted by The Whelk at 7:11 AM on February 16, 2012 [4 favorites]

My Coach men's wallet from 2001 is still in decent shape. Before I got it, I expected wallets to last for a year or so. I think their "basic" leather accessories are still pretty high quality. A friend of mine swears by Bosca, though.
posted by deanc at 7:21 AM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I think you have to be careful not to confuse luxury and dowdy. Yes, Hermes scarves are great, but if you're not middle-aged, they can make you look that way. There's plenty of lovely scarves that flatter the wearer and cost a lot but aren't screaming "duty free". Loro Piano cashmere, Etro, etc. I have a pair of Brooks Brothers Black Fleece shoes that are very well made, luxurious as all get out, but aren't the usual black pumps.
Try reading the Financial Times "How to Spend It" section for suggestions.
posted by Ideefixe at 7:32 AM on February 16, 2012

The trouble is that "classics" get bought out and become "lifestyle brands". Persol is owned by Luxottica, I believe, which also owns Ray-Ban and Oakley--my next sunglasses are going to be by Randolph Engineering (as noted above). Several of the major pen makers (e g Parker) are owned by Rubbermaid. Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy seems to own half the lifestyle brands in the universe, including (I was surprised to discover) Thomas Pink. No Pink shirts for me but hey, never been able to afford them anyway. I just dislike the idea of something of quality becoming lifestyle fodder. I'm now on a search for quality stuff (1) of which the manufacture is not outsourced to some repressive regime in the Third World--better, is made in Australia or the UK or the EU or the US--and (2) of which the maker isn't evil (pays its taxes, stands behind its product, stays out of unacceptable politics, keeps reasonably honest books, doesn't screw third-world countries etc). Not easy.

Suggestions for good stuff which has the right kind of reputation and to which so far I've found no objections: Namiki fountain pens. R M Williams boots, for Australians. Bronnley soaps might pass (made in England and "by appointment to the Queen"). I might think of more.
posted by Logophiliac at 7:39 AM on February 16, 2012 [1 favorite]

I just dislike the idea of something of quality becoming lifestyle fodder.

I think this is the trouble when looking for things that are 'well made'. L'Oreal, for example, owns Lancome, yet one line is seen as luxury and one not. Believe it or not, when Gap first came to the UK they were seen as a higher-end brand that had a better reputation for quality than others. There's often been a rumour that Chanel owns Bourjois, and most mainstream perfumes are produced by three or four conglomerates (some licensed perfumes such as 'designer' and celebrity fragrances are exactly that - they license the name and stick it on a juice that's already sitting in the company lab and sounds OK, and if you're lucky they knock up the sketch for the bottle as well).

The other mistake is presuming that more cash = better made. I'm not well up on the high-end world but I know of several spendy high-street stores (think $150 average for a dress) that make clothes that are poorly cut or made from fabric that wears out. I'm sure the same is true in the designer world, particularly when one is often expected to wear an item just for the season. There's a point where you're paying for the name and/or the style over durability, if that;'s what you're looking for. And as luxury brands have a strong cachet, it's tempting for parent companies to capitalise on this as much as possible to make a profit.
posted by mippy at 7:59 AM on February 16, 2012 [2 favorites]

My Burberry raincoat is one of my most prized possessions. It was made between 1950 and 1971, before the company moved its operations to China. I don't know what the quality of Burberry is like now, but in general, that's something you've got to look out for.

My Dries van Noten walking boots give me happy feet. Prada shoes are often very good too.

Wolford hosiery is out of this world. You can feel the difference wearing their stuff. It's like it gives you a hug.

I have a Kate Spade laptop bag that is remarkably comfortable to carry. It's well balanced and comes up clean, such that you hardly feel the weight of the contents.

I would also recommend Borsalino hats, but some say only the vintage ones are still worth buying. I'm very satisfied with my modern one though.
posted by tel3path at 8:50 AM on February 16, 2012

Oh, and Hermes scarves. You do have to know how to wear them so they don't look stuffy, but they come with a leaflet of various ways to tie them.
posted by tel3path at 8:52 AM on February 16, 2012

Fantastically made: Saddleback Leather (bags and things)
posted by HopStopDon'tShop at 9:39 AM on February 16, 2012

I wrote this comment a while back about Hermes.

Simply - if my friend's obsession with quality is relfective of Hermes as a whole - and I think it is, then they are very diligent about their brand equity.

Interestingly, he goes to China to buy certain old skool leather tools and isn't as sniffy about some Chinese leatherwork as you might think.
posted by MuffinMan at 10:06 AM on February 16, 2012

Some other leather goods manufacturers to consider are Valextra, Smythson, and Aspinal.

The revival of Celine has seen a noticeable improvement in quality (and an equivalent increase in price); their leather goods are just about on par with Hermes now. I'm partial to White and Warren's cashmere and knits, and prefer "Freshadama" pearls to Mikimotos. Blue Nile's classic jewelry pieces are better-priced and comparable in quality to high-street retailers.
posted by evoque at 11:19 AM on February 16, 2012

Probably not the place you'd first think of, but Etsy has some stellar artisan products. Handbags, scarves, wallets, belts...Amazing quality. It's not always the cheapest, but it's nice to support small sellers too. This hand stitched brown leather bag is a great example. Plus you get personal attention, which always feels luxurious, and craftsmen will even work to customize products.

I've been on an Etsy kick lately. I think it is amazing.
posted by DeltaForce at 11:19 AM on February 22, 2012

« Older Looking for the name of most languages in every...   |   How to be a good parent to a kid going through... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.