This story is part of the GP100, Gear Patrol's annual index of the 100 best products of the year. To see the full list of products or read this story in print, check out Gear Patrol Magazine: Issue Eight, available now at the Gear Patrol Store.

Fashion people used to talk about clothes in terms of how trendy they were. But these days, menswear is less about chasing an ever-changing aesthetic and more about expressing your identity with a unique sensibility. That respect for individuality is why everything from inexpensive workwear (like the pieces in Filson's C.C.F. line) to brightly patterned takes on classic menswear pieces (see: the four-pocket jacket from the new brand 18 East) feels equally appealing. And just as important is how it's all made — which is precisely why sustainable alternatives to wardrobe staples, such as Arvin Goods Econyl Boxers and Outerknown's S.E.A jeans, also made our list this year.

J.Crew Heritage Collection

green j crew raincoat with hood and front zipper pocket
J. Crew

Before J.Crew was the mega-retailer it is today, it was a direct-to-consumer brand called Popular Merchandise, with most of its sales coming through mail-order catalogs. This March, in response to customers calling for a revival of the brand's early hits, J.Crew re-released a range of wardrobe staples like rugby shirts, roll-neck sweaters and barn coats that feel current as ever. — John Zientek

  • Materials: Mostly cotton
  • Unisex Pieces: 2 anoraks, 2 barn coats
  • Vibe: Accessible, relaxed '80s prep

    Buy Now: $45+

    Jacques Marie Mage Gonzo Collection

    gold aviator glasses with clear lenses
    Chase Pellerin

    Jerome Mage, the quietly influential eyewear designer behind the L.A.-based brand Jacques Marie Mage, has no shortage of collaborations under his belt. But perhaps his most impactful project of 2018 was a partnership with The Gonzo Foundation that produced two '60s-style aviators inspired by Hunter S. Thompson. The striking frames are available in both black and gold and each style is limited to 250 pieces. — JZ

    • Materials: Lightweight titanium frames, hinges and temples
    • Lenses: CR39 with UV protection
    • Provenance: Made in Japan

      Buy Now: $850

      18 East

      man sitting in a corner while wearing a gray sweater and patterned pants
      18 East

      After years in menswear, Antonio Ciongoli reached the conclusion that the traditional wholesale model for selling clothes just didn't make sense. The 34-year-old Vermont native worked at Ralph Lauren and Michael Bastian before cofounding Eidos, a little brother to the legendary Neopolitan suiting house Isaia, in 2013. And though he designed some much-lauded menswear there, the churn of making things for department stores altered his outlook.

      "We had to make so much product," he said, adding that it was often on store floors well before people would actually need it. To make sure it all sold, he had to infuse pieces with multi-season appeal, often watering down stronger designs. "I thought to myself, 'if I could start over again, I really want to do something small and something focused.'"

      So last year, he left Eidos to head creative at a multi-brand platform called RRR Brands. In October 2017, it acquired Roller Rabbit, a company founded by global textile advocate Roberta Freymann that focuses on handmade women's clothing. To complement Roller Rabbit, Ciongoli developed 18 East, a small-scale menswear brand with bohemian designs, limited production runs and fair prices.

      18 East

      "When we set out to start a new brand it was very important how we wanted to make things," he said. "We wanted to use natural dyes, we wanted to recycle fabrics, we wanted to put a hand touch on things and really kind of highlight the hand behind the garment. For me, it has to be more than just making cool stuff."

      Ciongoli recognized a familiar technique in Roller Rabbit's wares: Indian block printing. He'd spent time in the Indian village of Bagru (where artisans specialize in the craft) while working on a collection for Eidos. "I was just fascinated by the non-mechanized process," he said. "I didn't see a machine there for two weeks."

      The brand's debut collection, which launched in September, showcased kalamkari block-print fabrics, khadi weaving, hand embroidery and upcycled cashmere in a small handful of casual garments. Prices ranged from $75 for a kalamkari tee to $445 for an upcycled cashmere sweater and a lot of the styles were snapped up quickly: a sherpa vest sold out in 30 minutes.

      Every two months, 18 East will release new collections on its website, offering other limited-run pieces intermittently. While upcoming collections draw on traditional garments from other locales like Ireland, the brand's roots are already firmly planted.

      "India is going to be the core of what we do because I've never in my career worked in a country that has the technique and the expertise to do so many different types of things without having it be so cost prohibitive," Ciongoli said.

      And though the debut of 18 East was incredibly successful, Ciongoli doesn't feel the pressure for growth he experienced at other brands.

      "We're given the opportunity to let it breathe and let it grow organically," he said. "And that means that we can try to do things the right way." — JZ

      • Techniques: Kalamkari block-printing, khadi weaving, hand embroidery
      • Garments in First Collection: 31
      • New Releases: Every 2 months

        Buy Now: $75+

        Gear Patrol

        Mr P. Footwear

        various shoes assembled in a grid   leather shoes, dress shoes, sneakers, and more
        Chandler Bondurant

        One result of running a successful e-commerce operation is a lot of hard data about what customers want. Last year, Mr Porter used that knowledge to inform Mr P., its in-house clothing line, and followed up in 2018 by adding footwear to the mix. The well-made sneakers, boots and dress shoes were designed to complement the clothes, but they stand on their own as a complete collection of shoes for the modern man. — Justin Fenner

        • Styles: 8 permanent styles with seasonal additions
        • Extras: Ships with a shoehorn and spare laces
        • Provenance: Made in Italy

          Buy Now: $285+

          Filson C.C.F. Workwear

          green filson jacket with hood and a quilted interior

          Over the past century, Filson has made a name for itself by supplying outdoorsmen with rugged, well-made clothing — some of which is available for decidedly elevated sums. But this year, it introduced a line of modestly priced, Canadian-made workwear designed to stand up to daily use on the job. The no-nonsense products are cut from materials like cotton duck canvas, and while they might be economical, they're still backed by the company's lifetime guarantee. — JZ

          • Pieces in Collection: 23
          • Materials: cotton duck canvas, goose down, nylon ribbing
          • Reinforcements: triple-stitched seams, rivets

            Buy Now: $24+

            Arvin Goods Econyl Boxers

            man standing in a sunny room, reading a book in front of a bookshelf
            Arvin Goods

            While the clothing industry's mega-brands struggle to take meaningful steps toward more sustainable manufacturing practices, a handful of recently founded small brands are setting the examples of how to do it right. And their solutions are often radically simple. In the case of Seattle-based Arvin goods, the mission is clear: make affordable wardrobe basics using 100 percent recycled inputs.

            "We want everyone to understand the waste that the fashion industry has produced, and how simple it is to use regenerated waste in products," said Arvin Goods cofounder Harry Fricker, referencing the unsavory fact that, behind big oil, the apparel industry is one of the largest industrial polluters in the world.

            A pair of underwear that feels good and doesn't break the bank? That's something most guys can get behind.

            Since its inception in 2017, Arvin Goods has relied on recycled cotton-poly yarns to produce a range of socks and other basics. This practice saves fresh water, reduces landfill waste and lowers CO2 emissions, among other things.

            The company's new men's boxers take that idea into the sea. To make them, Arvin Goods teamed up with Italian materials brand Econyl, which regenerates nylon ocean waste like fishing nets to make its namesake material. In addition to being an eco-conscious product, Econyl has stretch and breathability, plus it's moisture-wicking and incredibly soft. Each pair's $24 price tag is in line with what you'd pay for other, less sustainable brands.

            "As much as we're highlighting the waste produced in the fashion industry, we want to highlight ocean waste," Fricker said. "It's such a huge thing right now. And for myself, I spend ninety percent of my life in the ocean — I surf nearly every other day."

            Though finding time to surf in the Pacific Northwest, where Arvin Goods is based, is more challenging for Fricker now than it was when he worked at the UK surf brand Finisterre, it isn't at odds with his work. It's in surfers' best interest to keep the ocean clean and initiate action around sustainable manufacturing processes. So for Fricker, the focus on utilizing recycled materials in products at Arvin Goods is not just a forward-thinking business decision, it's compatible with his lifestyle.

            Naturally, many customers will not have the same personal connection to the new Econyl Boxers. But a pair of underwear that feels good and doesn't break the bank? That's something most guys can get behind. — JZ

            • Fabric: Econyl regenerated nylon
            • Colors: Black, red
            • Sizes: S - XL

              Buy Now: $24

              Away Aluminum Edition

              woman walking while pulling a silver away suitcase alongside her
              Away/Fabian Öhrn

              In the race to build the best affordable smart luggage, Away was already leading the pack. Then it introduced an aluminum version of its best-selling roller bags and zoomed even further ahead. Away brought reliable protection (and a powerful removable battery) to a category where major players are known to ask twice the price or more. Which makes it all easier to wear the inevitable dings and scratches with pride. — JF

              • Wheels: Whisper-quiet 360-degree spinners from Hinomoto
              • Juice: Battery can fully charge an iPhone five times
              • Insurance: Backed by Away's lifetime guarantee

                Buy Now: $495+

                Nike Air Max 270

                nike air max
                Chase Pellerin

                New York City Februarys can be particularly unforgiving. But the month's notorious chill didn't stop Lexi Cross and Huston Conti, the friends and creative collaborators behind the popular Instagram account @ShoesofNYC, from venturing into the streets of SoHo earlier this year. They primarily post images of interesting footwear and commentary from the people wearing it, so they knew the temperature would pose some challenges for the project they were working on.

                "People are less willing to stop and have a conversation with you when it's ten degrees," Conti said. "Plus, people wear a lot of boots and a lot of flats [that time of year], which makes sense."

                Still, Cross and Conti were on something of a mission to find and interview people wearing Nike's Air Max sneakers. They were producing a video in advance of Air Max Day, Nike's relatively young annual celebration commemorating the release of the Air Max 1. The sneakerhead holiday started perhaps a little unceremoniously in 2014, but four years later it has become a very big deal, complete with archival re-releases, limited-edition colorways, worldwide contests for the best amateur designs and, most importantly, the debuts of brand new styles.

                green nike sneakers with orange detailing at the heel
                Chase Pellerin

                This year, that meant the release of the Air Max 270, named for the degrees of visibility inside its voluptuous, air-filled heel. It's the first shoe in the Air Max franchise with an Air unit specifically designed for a lifestyle shoe; previous models used supports originally intended for athletic performance. The duo planned to use their video to advertise a giveaway of this new addition to the storied lineup. But they also wanted to examine just how much loyalty the new shoe's multitude of predecessors had inspired.

                "People really have strong opinions about certain styles. In our interviews, we hear things like 'I'm a 98s girl' or 'I only rock 1s,'" Cross said. "We like the fact that when you see an Air Max, you know it's an Air Max, even with such variance in design. They're different but extremely recognizable at the same time."

                Nike has been using Air units since the late 1970s, when a NASA engineer named Frank Rudy approached the young company with a radical idea: a lightweight cushioning system that would use a flexible membrane filled with pressurized air to support the foot. The units absorb impact and spring back to their original shape almost instantaneously, which made them a groundbreaking addition to running and basketball shoes. (The first shoe to use the technology, the Air Tailwind, made its debut at the 1978 Honolulu Marathon. A general release followed the next year.)

                The Air Max line, designed more for looking good than for shooting hoops or securing an FKT, was born in 1987, when Nike designer Tinker Hatfield decided to expose the Air unit in the Air Max 1. (Legend has it the glass-curtain walls and inside-out architecture of the Centre Pompidou in Paris inspired him to cut a window into the sole of the shoe.) The model's comfort, light weight and signature bounce gave it a broad appeal, but its fearless and endless color combinations quickly made it beloved among stylish types and musicians. In an analysis of hip-hop songs released since 1987, Genius's Jacques Morel found that everyone from Jay-Z to Wale has name-dropped Air Max in song at one point or another.

                "When you see an Air Max, you know it's an Air Max. They're different but extremely recognizable at the same time."

                The franchise has released scores of styles in the three decades since its debut. And while the 270 takes cues from two of these (the Air Max 180 and the Air Max 93), it represents a fundamental shift in the way Nike approaches new additions to this lineup.

                "We wanted to make sure we were creating something that was truly new and had its own identity," said Dylan Raasch, the senior creative director for Max Air — the Nike division responsible for the Air Max line. "Before we started on the design, we made the decision to innovate around comfort as opposed to performance, which is where we begin with our athletes. This meant not looking at how you get from point A to point B the fastest, but how you maintain comfort when the trip between point A and point B could take all day."

                a cluster of different pairs of nike sneakers in a pile

                To that end, the shoe's Air unit is noticeably tall: it stands at 32mm, around 1¼ inches. Raasch and the Max Air design team found that this height provided the perfect amount of impact absorption while still conforming to Nike's stability standards.

                The company bills the launch of the 270 as one of the most successful sneaker introductions in its history, no doubt spurred on by early adopters like Kevin Durant, who was spotted wearing a pair in November 2017 — before the shoe was commercially available. And while they don't claim to have had any impact on the shoe's triumph, influencers like Cross and Conti undoubtedly helped spread the word. When they posted the video they made that cold February day, they added instructions asking their followers to come and find them in the wild for their chance to win a pair.

                "The 270 ultimately led to the 720, which has continued to push what's possible with Air even further."

                "Actually the first pair we gave away at a coffee shop the same day of the giveaway, but before we had announced our location," Conti said. "A kid came up to us as we were sitting there and said 'Are you @ShoesofNYC?' and then showed us right away that he followed us and wanted to cash in on his Air Maxes. It was awesome."

                "I think my favorite part was standing near [the store] Kith, where we decided to give them out," Cross added, referencing the market-moving streetwear emporium, "and watching all the sneakerheads around us, not realizing that they were missing out on a pair of the 270s."

                The shoes are still in high demand. When we filed this story, StockX, (the online marketplace that prices sneakers, streetwear, watches and handbags the way stock exchanges price shares of companies), featured two pairs for around $250 each— $100 over the shoes' MSRPs.

                But the value of the 270 may be much greater than that. There's already mounting excitement about the next Air Max shoe, the 720. It boasts a massive Air unit that wraps around the entire sole, and its development is a direct result of the 270's success.

                "The 270 helped inform the evolution of big Air," Raasch said. "It ultimately led to the 720, which has continued to push the boundaries of what's possible with Air even further."

                The 720 models won't be available until 2019. In the meantime, 270 wearers everywhere can walk tall, secure in the knowledge that their shoes were a vital stepping stone in the evolution of one of the world's most beloved and innovative lines of shoes. — JF

                • Heel: 32mm tall, for maximum comfort
                • Hype: Kevin Durant wore a custom pair in November 2017
                • Heritage: Based on the Air Max 180 and Air Max 93

                  Price $150+

                  Aer Work Collection

                  a pile of various black aer packs such as backpacks, laptop bags, etc

                  It takes a lot to produce one good work bag, but Aer — the San Francisco maker of minimalist backpacks and duffels — released a full line of them this year. They're designed to help people with elastic definitions of "the office" stay organized enough to work on the go. That means ample pockets for laptops, tablets, chargers and other necessities — and construction so sturdy that the bags can stand upright on their own. — JF

                  • Hardware: YKK zippers, Duraflex plastic
                  • Software: Water-resistant, coated front exterior
                  • Storage: Dedicated pockets for everything you can think of

                    Buy Now: $45+

                    The Best New Menswear Release of 2018: Outerknown S.E.A. Jeans

                    a hanging pair of outerknown denim jeans
                    Chase Pellerin

                    Denim is a dirty business. But Outerknown's excellent S.E.A. Jeans are overwhelmingly clean. They're made from organic materials in factories that use less water and generate less waste than traditional manufacturers. What's more, when your jeans wear out, Outerknown will repair them at no cost to you. And even if they can't, they'll replace them and recycle the old ones into new products.

                    Read the Full Story

                    Presented by Weiss Watches

                    Weiss Watches 42mm American Issue Field Watch

                    weiss watch with a green strap
                    Gear Patrol Studios

                    When it comes to American-made watches, Weiss is one of the first names that come to mind. From start to finish, each Weiss timepiece is handcrafted by master watchmaker Cameron Weiss, giving them a unique level of precision.

                    Its American Issue Field Watch features a 42mm stainless steel case with a white dial that's machined from a solid piece of naval brass. An open, sapphire-crystal case back displays the rhodium-plated, American-made movement for a heightened field-watch style.

                    But don’t be fooled: this watch is built for the field. It features a double-domed and beveled sapphire crystal, water resistance up to 330 feet and a durable olive green-lined Cordura canvas strap. Made on a limited basis, this timepiece is American through and through.

                    • Case Size: 42mm
                    • Movement: US-made Caliber 1003 mechanical movement
                    • Strap: Olive green-lined Cordura canvas

                      Buy Now: $2,250