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For all its limitations on personal style, wearing a uniform comes with quite a few perks. Having the burden of decision-making lifted is rarely a bad thing, and there's comfort in having clothes that keep you company through every season. It can be exhausting keeping up with the ever-changing hype machine, and feeling pressure to run your closet like a revolving door of new styles.
That said, there's a way to have your cake and eat it too: to have easy, reliable basics that still have a more unique POV than basic workwear. L'Estrange London has made a name for itself by producing exactly that, with modular product lines they describe as "comfortable, versatile and seasonless." Their clothes are designed to see you through a range of different occasions, helping you simplify your wardrobe and eliminate the need for fast fashion. Together with their use of 100% renewable or recycled fabrics, and their 365-day free repairs on any damaged pieces, it's a radical (and customer-friendly) approach to finally making fashion sustainable.
- Modular clothing system means almost all of the pieces style well together
- Brand will help you resell any garment you no longer wear
- Clothes are made from recycled materials that feel as fresh as first-use
We don't like
- In-season items can feel pricey for the men's basics category
- Minor fit issues with some of the items I tried on
OUT OF CRISIS, OPPORTUNITY
Though William Green and Tom Horne co-founded L'Estrange in 2013, perhaps the strongest argument for its value propositions came when COVID hit in 2020. With so much of the outside world suddenly barricaded off, we found our lives stripped back to the baseline, with an opportunity to reevaluate priorities. As fashion designers, they naturally focused on our closets – how so many of us had far more clothes than we needed (even when we were allowed to go out and socialize).
As regular life was slowly phased back in, L'Estrange saw an influx in customers who would rather own fewer outfits that serve them well in a variety of settings. That new base was easy to reach with the leaps and bounds in e-commerce technology, and it's the DTC model that earned this UK brand stateside fans like yours truly. When I heard about their commitment to sustainability that goes far beyond virtue signaling (so far, in fact, that they invented a laundry tablet called Re_Fresh ($9) that extends the life of your clothes), I decided to sample their collection for a fall fashion refresh. According to their model, if all went well, I might not need to revamp my wardrobe much in the future at all – and while I can't promise that, I'll attest that these pieces have serious staying power.
NOT JUST PANTS, TROUSERS
Though ordinarily I wouldn't start from the bottom, as it were, the 24 Trouser (from $170) is undoubtedly L'Estrange's signature piece. Not only is it the item that earned them celebrity fans like Tom Holland and Jeremy Piven, it also exemplifies their dress-it-up-or-dress-it-down approach. Though it has the clean lines of a dress pant or slack, it's also got an elastic waistband and cord fastening that helps fit in-between sizes. With Slim and Relaxed Fit options, plus a choice of cotton, linen or wool fabrics, there's a fair bit of flexibility without an onslaught of choices.
I went with the The Tropical Wool 24 Trouser ($200) at first, intrigued by the breathability of the fabric, but found the slim fit a little snug around my quads. Though the Medium I ordered was listed as slightly wider than my usual waist size, it hugged the top half of my leg more than I expected. True to their promise, though, L'Estrange was beyond easy to work with, exchanging the pair for a much better-fitting Relaxed Fit 24 in 6oz Cotton ($170). They were still far from baggy, and cut the kind of profile that felt both work-appropriate and stylish for the weekends, delivering their advertised "fine Italian tailoring combined with sweatpant-level comfort."
SHIRTS FOR ALL-DAY ACTION
Their shirts follow a similar aesthetic: a slightly formal silhouette, but in colors and fabrics that feel fresh and contemporary. Since I'm a Cali boy, and rarely am called upon to drop into the office, I beelined for The Cuban Collar in Linen (on sale for $79), which looked even better in person and fit like a total dream. You know it's a flexible shirt when I've worn it both on vacation and to visit the in-laws, though the longer-sleeve shirts provide more protection against colder temps.
Take the All Day Shirt available in Collarless in Jersey ($144), Collarless or Collared in Merino Wool (both $176), with collar in Oxford Cotton ($119) or without in ultrafine Pindot Cotton (on sale from $63). As their onsite styling suggests, all look equally great with dress shoes, sneakers or Birkenstocks, and the limited color palette still manages to span from hipster to 9-to-5. As someone whose partner is always late because he stops home after work to change into dinner clothes, I can't think of a better gift for either of us. That kind of versatility eliminates the middle step with ease.
The All Day Shirt Jersey
We don't like
LESTRANGE x Waterford 24 Overshirt
We don't like
The Modular Quilt
We don't like
The 24 Trouser Relaxed Fit
We don't like
TIME TO BUNDLE UP
More pressingly as winter approaches, L'Estrange has a surprisingly deep bench of outerwear. Their heaviest option is the full-length Jersey Wool Coat ($446), made from RWS-certified wool that protects the welfare of sheep and of the land they graze on. The Hydrowool Bomber Jacket ($389) and Modular Mac ($353) are solid options for lighter climes, while still being insulated against wind and totally water-repellant.
The Modular Vest ($164) and Modular Shell ($249) are lighter still, and also are arguably L'Estrange's most fashion-forward pieces. The Vest in particular has a severe, almost militaristic cut to it, but can be softened by everything from the right tee to a pair of tennis shoes. All of the above are designed to be worn under and with the The Modular Coat ($449), which leaves more room for layering despite its dense, cold-weather weave. With all these options, it's clear the collection is meant to see you through all kinds of seasonal conditions, from a light October chill to the full force of the elements.
THE FUTURE OF FASHION
Yet for a brand that could be content to rest on its laurels with a simple product line, they're constantly treading new ground with limited editions and collaborations. The latest is a partnership with Waterford Distillery, the world's largest producer of organic and biodynamic whiskies. This willingness to elevate eco-driven brands in other spaces is commendable, and shines through in touches like the liner in the LESTRANGE x Waterford Overshirt ($196), which is inspired by Waterford's map of barley provenance.
Still, at the end of the day, all their environmental ambitions hinge on the quality of their clothing, which I can say firsthand is par excellence. Their pieces are built to last and to outlast ephemeral trends, which makes them easy to hold onto, eliminating fabric waste in the process. Though I've yet to take advantage of their year of complimentary repairs, that's also great insurance against unexpected shirt-ending snags. While I'm all but guaranteed to still frivolously purchase now and then, the L'Estrange experience has made me think more seriously about shopping and dressing intentionally.
When the clothes look this good, it's by no means a sacrifice.