The 20 American Heritage Brands Every Guy Should Know

With age, comes wisdom...and great apparel

May 9, 2022 12:41 pm
A collage of items from American Heritage Brands

Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, we may earn a small share of the profits.

In a world of branding and marketing, it’s easy to get disillusioned by the empty promises companies and retailers like to make. Is that jacket really rugged? How is sustainability being measured? And what the hell does “heritage” mean? There’s not quite a consensus on what the tossed-around term is, so we thought we’d define it ourselves. We decided that any brand over (approximately) 40 years old who prioritizes quality construction and produces undeniably good product fits the bill.

And why 40 years? Mostly so we could include the likes of The North Face and Tommy Hilfiger. But the point stands that there are some brands that have outlived trend cycles and the switching of guards. It could be their incredible commitment to quality and craftsmanship. It could be an otherworldly sense of staying one step ahead, and therefore, relevant. It could be a sartorial monopoly on workwear or shaggy sweaters, or running goods. They might just have a well-designed name or logo.

While heritage crafters exist globally (think German athletic retailers Adidas), America’s prolific canon of long-time brands, retailers and designers is exceptional. Hailing from coast to coast — Levi’s set up shop in San Francisco over a century ago, with L.L. Bean doing the same in Maine — there are dozens, in not hundreds of brands that read as heritage and many are deserving of your attention be it for their maintained relevancy or impact on culture at large. Regardless of what’s kept them alive, it goes without saying that if it’s lasted this long, it’s probably pretty good. From Levi’s Jeans to Polo Ralph Lauren, these are the 20 best heritage brands that hail from the US of A.

two model shots of a Levi's outfit

Levi’s Jeans

Best For: Denim

The Need to Know: You can’t get more American than Levi’s. One of the oldest brands on our lists, the San Francisco-based denim retailer has been a stalwart of American style since American style was a thing. A core offering of long-lasting, well-fitting denim has been supplemented in recent years with new, exciting forays into more fashion-forward pursuits.

Signature Item: Levi’s 501 Original Fit Men’s Jean

A model in an L.L. Bean flannel
L.L. Bean

L.L. Bean

Best For: Quality Basics

The Need to Know: Based out of Freeport, Maine, L.L. Bean was founded in 1912 and has been serving up quality, built-to-last basics at shockingly affordable prices ever since. Their Bean Boot is one of the most recognizable pieces of footwear around, and for good reason.

Signature Item: L.L. Bean Bean Boots, 8″

a close up shot of the champion logo on a brow tee shirt


Best For: Sweats

The Need to Know: Started in 1919 as the “Knickerbocker Knitting Company,” the brand, now a Hanes subsidiary, hasn’t lost an ounce of quality that made them decades-long favorites of the US Military Academy, NBA and more. Affordable and soft, they truly make a damn fine sweatsuit.

Signature Item: Champion Reverse Weave Crew Sweatshirt

a close up shot of a Brooks Brother model wearing a light blue polo, brown belt, and light green pants
Brooks Brothers

Brooks Brothers

Best For: Officewear

The Need to Know: Brooks Brothers has outfitted the modern businessman for over 200 years, dating its founding to nineteenth-century Manhattan. That’s a hell of a long time to maintain relevancy, but look no future than your nearest hedge funder for proof.

Signature Item: Brooks Brother Regent Fit Hopsack Sport Coat

a model in Nike gear


Best For: Sportswear

The Need to Know: The Swoosh is one of the largest brands in he world, with iconic styles, mantras and iconography setting the Beaverton-founded brand apart from the competition.

Signature Item: Nike Blazer Mid ’77 Vintage Sneaker

A model in a Carhartt jacket


Best For: Workwear

The Need to Know: Double-kneed pants. Chore Coats. Bibs. The list of Carhartt staples goes on and on, all with stamps of approval from real, hardworking Americans.

Signature Item: Carrhartt Duck Balnket-Lined Chore Coat

A close up shot of a model in a light blue Hamilton dress shirt

Hamilton Shirts

Best For: Dress Shirting

The Need to Know: Founded in Houston, Texas, Hamilton Shirting has produced some of the finest made-to-measure garments to come out of the USA. The oldest family-owned business in Space City shirts are sold and endorsed by the likes of Todd Snyder and Barneys New York.

Signature Item: Hamilton Made In The USA French Cuffed Tuxedo Shirt

A model in a The North Face jacket
The North Face

The North Face

Best For: Outdoor Apparel

The Need to Know: Another San Francisco brainchild, The North Face has been outfitting climbers and outdoorsmen since 1966. Their dedication to innovation explains perfectly why they’re also one of the largest outdoor brands in the world.

Signature Item: The North Face Men’s 1996 Retro Nuptse Jacket

a composite of three models in neutral toned Calvin Klein underwear
Calvin Klein

Calvin Klein

Best For: Elevated Undies

The Need to Know: Few American designer’s names are as well known as Mr. Klein’s — it helps that they’re sown into the waistband of the brand’s luxurious undergarments.

Signature Item: Calvin Klein 3-Pack Moisture Wicking Strech Cotton Boxer Briefs

A close up shot of a Woolrich shirt label


Best For: Woolen Goods and Winterwear

The Need to Know: Woolrich traces its inception all the way back to 1830s Pennsylvania where not long after, they would introduce a first-of-it’s-kind Buffalo Check Shirt. The rest, as they say, is history.

Signature Item: Woolrich Men’s Arctic Parka

a model in a pair of Birdwell Britches Trunks
Birdwell Britches

Birdwell Britches

Best For: Swimwear

The Need to Know: SoCal’s Birdwell Britches has been around since the ’60s, and for good reason — any seasoned beach-goer will tell you that their nylon board shorts are second to none for hanging out and hanging ten alike.

Signature Item: Birdwell Britches 310 Nylon Board Shorts

a close up shot of the Dickies logo on a pair of tan Dickies work pants


Best For: Workwear

The Need to Know: The famed makers of the 874 work pants may have found new life with a workwear-forward twenty-first century, but their dedication to affordable, durable and functional clothing has stayed the same.

Signature Item: Dickies 874 Work Pant

A stack of Pendleton flannels on a beach


Best For: Flannels

The Need to Know: Pendleton’s weaves are the stuff of legends, and we’re not just talking about their trade blankets. After all, the Oregon-based retail makes a flannel to die for.

Signature Item: Pendleton Lined Wool Flannel Long-Sleeve Button-Down Shirt

Three models in J.Press clothing


Best For: Prep

The Need to Know: Surely, you’ve seen a Shaggy Dog sweater bouncing around on your college campus. But did you know they’ve been making the ivy-league rounds since the New Haven-based J.Press was born in 1902?

Signature Item: J.Press Shaggy Dog Crew Sweater

A man in a Schoot leather jacket on a motorcycle


Best For: Leather Jackets

The Need to Know: A blue-color motorcycle jacket brand started in the 1920s, Schott makes perhaps the premier American leather jacket.

Signature Item: Schott Waxed Natural Pebbled Cowhide Cafe Leather Jacket

a model in Tommy gear leaning against the wall
Tommy Hilfiger

Tommy Hilfiger

Best For: Logo-Heavy Casuals

The Need to Know: There was a time when Tommy Hilfiger was synonymous with cool; while its incredible heyday (see: the 1990s) may be slightly behind it, Tommy H still makes a mean logo tee and is far too iconic to be left to the sands of time.

Signature Item: Tommy Hilfiger Classic Fit Color-Blocked Rugby Polo

A man in a Filson jacket in a truck


Best For: Rugged Outdoor Apparel

The Need to Know: The rough and tumble folks at Filson know how to make apparel — not to mention accessories — that will last; after all, they’ve been doing it since 1897.

Signature Item: Filson Workshop Leather Field Bag

A model in a vintage Alpha Industries Jacket
Alpha Industries

Alpha Industries

Best For: Bomber Jackets

The Need to Know: If Alpha Industries MA-1 Bomber Jacket looks like the one in grandpa’s closet, it’s probably because it is. The Tennessee-founded jacket company was founded as a contractor for the U.S. military, and their flight-grade jackets emanate that same old-school cool.

Signature Item: Alpha Industries MA-1 Bomber Jacket

a model in a Eddie Bauer yellow rain jacket outdoors
Eddie Bauer

Eddie Bauer

Best For: Casual Outdoor Apparel

The Need to Know: Eddie Bauer is to the Pacific Northwest what L.L. Bean is to the East Coast: that is to say, the Seattle-founded company predicates itself on outdoor-inspired, long-wearing basics that have stayed affordable since 1920.

Signautre Item: Eddie Bauer Momentum UPF 50+ Anorak

Three models wearing polo Ralph lauren
Ralph Lauren

Polo Ralph Lauren

Best For: Everything

The Need to Know: From the polo icon to the iconic polo bear, Ralph Lauren’s empire of Polo Ralph Lauren is unequivocally one of the greatest American brands to grace the sartorial landscape. With entire catalogs of apparel, footwear and more spanning decades, PRL has done it all, at the highest level, for as long as we can remember.

Signature Item: Polo Ralph Lauren The Iconic Oxford Shirt

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