Looking for well known, traditional, quality brands
June 17, 2013 8:27 AM   Subscribe

I'm looking for traditional brands that are associated with quality products, like Pendleton wool blankets.

The other day I decided to buy a wool blanket, and a simple Google search brought me to Pendleton's site, as well as Land's End. I looked at the latter first, as I'd heard of them (I'd never heard of Pendleton before), and found out that they were selling Pendleton blankets made specifically for Land's End. When I bought the blanket I told my sister and a friend, and they were both very approving of my purchase, and they both instantly knew what brand of wool blanket I had bought.
Are there other traditional, respected, heritage* brands that are famous for certain products? I'm mainly interested in companies that have been around for, let's say, over 50 years, and for products that everyone uses and has used for generations (wool blankets, general apparel, soaps, home goods, etc. - no electronics or fussy gadgets).

*I'm American, so I think "made in America" is meant to signify quality and better labor practices, but I'd be interested in hearing about "made in Canada," "made in the U.K.," "made in France," etc. products too. I like that Pendleton seems to have some sense of American heritage in its manufacturing ethos, and I'd be happy to find companies from other places that have that same kind of pride in their hometown/country.
posted by Curiosity Delay to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (49 answers total) 81 users marked this as a favorite
 
Cookware: All-Clad, Le Creuset, Staub. Wusthof and Henckels knives (but only the higher-end ones; they both have budget lines now).
posted by supercres at 8:30 AM on June 17, 2013


Lodge for cast iron cookware.
posted by Rewind at 8:34 AM on June 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Opinel garden knives. They're cheap, too.
posted by theodolite at 8:35 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Frye boots.
posted by superfluousm at 8:36 AM on June 17, 2013 [4 favorites]




Hunter boots.
posted by coupdefoudre at 8:42 AM on June 17, 2013


Old Town canoes.
posted by Orinda at 8:48 AM on June 17, 2013


Shoes: Allen Edmonds, Red Wing, Quoddy
posted by fredericsunday at 8:48 AM on June 17, 2013


Barbour. Like many brands, it's been diffused, but the classic wax jacket is still made in Simonside.

There are a fair few previouslies that are at least semi-related to this.
posted by holgate at 8:49 AM on June 17, 2013


So the scary, unfortunate, sad thing about some of this is that as the heritage brands become popular they lose the qualities that made them that way -- Hunter wellies are now made in China and use lesser production processes, most of Frye's catalog is now made in Mexico and some people believe the quality has dropped, KitchenAid stand mixers now have plastic interior parts (which can be considered a good thing for a long list of reasons), etc.

This is also why many of the previouslies on this topic are less useful.
posted by AmandaA at 8:50 AM on June 17, 2013 [14 favorites]


Hudson's Bay point blankets have been around for over 200 years; Burberry for outerwear; Pond's cold cream has been around for about 150 years; Blackwing pencils, sort of (started out in the 1930s, discontinued late 1990s, revived in the last few years); Carharrt work clothes
posted by angiep at 8:50 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Red Wing boots, Rigid pipe wrenches, LLBean canvas bags, Hasselblad cameras, Leica cameras.
posted by From Bklyn at 8:51 AM on June 17, 2013


Watkins vanilla extract.
posted by jbickers at 8:53 AM on June 17, 2013


Oh, forgot Tilley hats! They're only about 30 years old, but they're iconic.
posted by angiep at 8:53 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Leatherman
posted by mkultra at 8:56 AM on June 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


J. Barbour & Sons ----waxed cotton jackets since 1900 or so by Royal Appointment, UK.
posted by BenPens at 8:57 AM on June 17, 2013


In the US, JBL is probably the oldest relevant audio company, going back to Altec-Lansing in the 40s. Their consumer products line is not what it was in the 70s and 80s, but they still make some of the best drivers.
posted by Teakettle at 9:03 AM on June 17, 2013


LL Bean's tote bags. Not everything LL Bean sells is still the high quality they built their reputation on, but the bags are (and they're made in the USA).

Muffy Aldrich at the Daily Prep enjoys pondering this question. Here's a recent chart of hers you might enjoy.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:09 AM on June 17, 2013 [5 favorites]


Filson for luggage. (I have the wheeled carry-on and matching duffle and LOVE them both! They've endured many a flight.)
posted by blithecatpie at 9:12 AM on June 17, 2013


Stetson hats
posted by drlith at 9:14 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Duralex tumblers, made in France. But! Last time I went to buy a box the restaurants supply store near me was no longer carrying them, and had a Spanish brand instead. I don't know if there's been a problem, or why they switched.

I have both the Duralex glasses and the similar Spanish ones, and they're both great. We're tough on our dishware but haven't broken one yet, and they're a classic design you'll see in restaurants all over the place.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:15 AM on June 17, 2013 [2 favorites]


Homer Laughlin restaurant dishware. I find it at thrift stores. Again, classic designs (like the plain white plate with the green rim) and sturdy.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:18 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Products with royal warrants in the UK
posted by brujita at 9:34 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I asked a similar question eight years ago.
posted by cribcage at 9:35 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Coach used to be this way, I personally don't like their more modern stuff.

Crane & Company for writing paper.

Levis.

Oneida for flatware
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 9:35 AM on June 17, 2013


Brooks leather saddles.
posted by anagrama at 9:42 AM on June 17, 2013 [4 favorites]


Marshalltown trowels for archaeological work.
posted by Mouse Army at 9:50 AM on June 17, 2013


Trojans.
posted by underthehat at 9:56 AM on June 17, 2013


Surefire flashlights. I have the older version of this one, and the new ones have even more lumens. Mine was a gift, and most people don't need a $135 flashlight rolling around in the junk drawer, but if you need the best flashlight Surefire is the brand to get.
posted by Room 641-A at 9:58 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Duluth pack for all manner of bags and packs and related products.
posted by edgeways at 10:13 AM on June 17, 2013


For American-made brands, the list curated at A Continuous Lean is pretty good.
posted by rensar at 10:17 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Also, if it hasn't been said yet: Bean Boots by L.L. Bean. Still made in Maine.
posted by rensar at 10:19 AM on June 17, 2013


Thanks for all the answers! I've marked "best" to the brands I hadn't heard of, and to the reminder that a lot of the old, great companies have sold out a bit in recent years. I'm really looking for companies that do pretty much the same thing they always have. I'm also trying to pay more attention to where the labor comes from, and how the company treats their labor force. Learning that Frye's moved a bunch of their manufacturing to Mexico came as a surprise!
posted by Curiosity Delay at 10:20 AM on June 17, 2013


I believe some higher end models of Graf ice skates are still hand made in various locations such as Switzerland and Canada.
posted by Dansaman at 10:46 AM on June 17, 2013


I can also add a few that I've heard about since asking my friends this question: Lenox for china, and Savon de Marseilles for soap. Another one I remembered that doesn't *quite* fit the bill: Yixing teapots from China. It's not a single company that puts them out, but they're renowned all the same for their high quality.

Since looking into the Savon de Marseilles, it seems to me that France ought to have a billion of these sorts of things as they've got such stringent rules for naming. I wonder what I can dig up...
posted by Curiosity Delay at 11:08 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Last time I went to buy a box the restaurants supply store near me was no longer carrying them, and had a Spanish brand instead. I don't know if there's been a problem, or why they switched.

Duralex had some financial problems that limited supply for a few years, but they now have a US website for online orders. They were the water glasses at my primary school, and I have half a dozen in my kitchen.

Companies that make a few things well and haven't really diffused their brands or moved production to reduce costs or accommodate demand? Pelikan fountain pens. Kum pencil sharpeners. Grado headphones. Rickenbacker guitars. (Gibson and Fender have cheaper lines; demand for Rickenbackers always exceeds supply.)

I'm actually warier of brand diffusion than outsourcing. You can have high-quality manufacturing away from your original home, although the loss of those jobs is sad; it's when a brand starts slapping its label on everything that you should start to suspect that the marketing people are in charge.
posted by holgate at 11:47 AM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Ficcare hair clips.

I would have said Twinings tea but it's not what it used to be.
posted by glasseyes at 1:59 PM on June 17, 2013


Zippo lighters
posted by Kafkaesque at 2:13 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Clark's sandals, which used to be school uniform in my young day. For kicking the dinosaurs with.

Robertson's Golden Shred marmalade (don't do an image search for this.)

A more modern brand with excellent cachet, Bon Maman jam (jelly). They may not even be French, I don't know.

Callard & Bowser was the name for toffees and nougat but sadly, is defunct.

This is making me paranoid - a number of things I've just tried to look up either seem to have drastically changed into something else or just don't seem to be in production anymore!
posted by glasseyes at 2:19 PM on June 17, 2013


Products with royal warrants in the UK

Bullshit. That's just a paid endorsement.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 4:24 PM on June 17, 2013


brujita Products with royal warrants in the UK

Gringos Without Borders Bullshit. That's just a paid endorsement.

A quick search reveals that it is not a paid endorsement.
posted by mlis at 4:37 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


Faribo blankets from Faribault Woolen Mill Co.
The company was in operation from 1865 to 2009 then reopened in 2011. All products are made in the US.
posted by mlis at 4:50 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


A quick search reveals that it is not a paid endorsement.

Read the link. You pay by providing goods/services to a member of the royal family.
posted by Gringos Without Borders at 6:56 PM on June 17, 2013


Read the link. You pay by providing goods/services to a member of the royal family.

I read the link. Did you?

"Warrant-holding firms do not provide their goods or services free to the Royal households, and all transactions are conducted on a strictly commercial basis."

posted by mlis at 7:19 PM on June 17, 2013 [1 favorite]


I would have said Twinings tea but it's not what it used to be.
posted by glasseyes at 1:59 PM on June 17 [+] [!]


Yorkshire Tea is a traditional brand that makes a strong tea with a distinctive taste. It's lovely. It's produced by Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate, a family held business.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 8:02 PM on June 17, 2013


Mason Pearson hairbrushes

I thought Savon de Marseilles might be a little too nebulous (no one manufacturer) but if that's good for these purposes: the Laguiole knife
posted by kmennie at 5:49 AM on June 18, 2013


Laguiole's nebulous because it's not a protected name: the bulk of French output comes from Thiers, and the style is made around the world. Production had largely moved away from Laguiole itself until a deliberate revival in the 1980s.

In contrast, you can look to Opinel, or across the Channel the little mesters in Sheffield. The latter is different from a brand, though, as it's a true workshop model, with knives made by individual self-employed craftsmen who rent factory space, although the name often descends through generations as masters train up their sons as apprentices.
posted by holgate at 6:42 AM on June 18, 2013


Ziploc. They really do make the best resealable plastic bags.
posted by mkultra at 8:00 AM on June 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


I believe Longaberger baskets fall into the category you describe.
posted by bq at 4:25 PM on June 18, 2013


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