Get Back to Basics With These 13 Minimalist Clothing Brands

Want maximum impact with minimal effort? Two words: The Row.
Last Updated
Feb 17, 2022

Earlier this week, the news dropped that designer Phoebe Philo would be making her much-anticipated return to the fashion scene with an eponymous line set to launch in January 2022. Having been MIA since she stepped down from the French fashion house, Celine, her reinstatement into the runway calendar can only mean one thing: minimalist clothing is here to stay.  We’re talking about oversized knitwear, expertly tailored trousers, monochromatic overcoats, and modernist accessories made to appear on Rosie Huntington-Whiteley’s Instagram feed.

The Reign of Minimalist Clothing

In a way, we should have predicted this. Much like this trend’s first arrival, it appeared off the back of logomania, a monogram infused-aesthetic that dominated the late ’90s  and early ’00s. But the fallout of the 2008 economic crash (which happened to be the same year Philo joined Celine) signaled a change in tide; one where loud prints and overt branding took a back seat to a subdued minimalist wardrobe. Fast-forward, and it’s happening again—minimalism is the taking lead in the fashion tango. 

It was Kim Jones’ reintroduction of Dior’s oblique pattern in 2019 that reignited our fascination with maximalist dressing, encouraging many brands to include fresh monograms into their ready-to-wear collections (see Versace’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection). However even with desires to embody the roaring ’20s notion of extravagance and buy “FF” Fendi Baguettes once more, the reality is this uncompromising wardrobe doesn’t quite fit with the cottagecore way of life we all adopted a few months ago. So naturally, Philo is staging her return. 

Joined by contemporaries like The Row, whose uniform of plain white tees and technical tailoring has become a favorite amongst Kendall Jenner and Zoë Kravitz, Philo has started to lay the groundwork for dressing the Philophiles (yes, that’s the moniker given to her committed followers) of the future. But 2022 is a long way away, and building the perfect foundational wardrobe shouldn’t be a waiting game. To make your dreams a reality, we’ve rounded up the 13 best minimalist brands of the moment, whose signature pieces will see you through the seasons in all their simple, understated glory. 

Table of Contents

Shop the Best Minimalist Clothing Brands

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The Row

The brainchild of actresses Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, The Row has become a heavyweight in fashion for its timeless silhouettes and often celebrity-adored apparel. Debuting with a simple white tee in 2006, the brand has since expanded its products into footwear, accessories, and menswear (thank you, Olsen Twins). At first glance, the brand’s success may seem inconsistent with its apparel, as aesthetically, it’s nothing out of the ordinary—but it’s in the finer details where the brand really stands its own. From the French seam in its tops that prevents unwelcomed bunching to the techno cotton in its trousers for an equally relaxed, yet polished look, The Row promises a certain level of excellence that is hard to find in the trend-driven market. 

Alongside being sticklers for perfection, The Row understands the zeitgeist and the foundational garments and accessories they require with each new season. The Ginza Leather Thong Sandals, which were the go-to option for the stylish elite in the summer of 2020, epitomize this. With their soft leather fabrication and contrasting color palette, consider these the must-have option for wine bars off the coast of Italy.

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In the same way that The Row’s sartorial start was the simple white tee, Theory’s was women’s pants. Inspired by the dynamic nature of ’90s New York City life, the all-American brand wanted to create garments that had the same wearable and comfortable attributes as sportswear. Drawing on materials like scuba, cotton, and elastane, Theory’s wide range of clothing and accessories (which has since evolved to include outerwear, bags, and menswear) works as a natural extension of the wearer. Though derived from athletic apparel, its collections of neutral-toned pieces aren’t meant just for gyms or the sports field. No, Theory’s designs encapsulate the same versatility as its fabrications. An Ivory Stretch-Knit Cardigan (unbuttoned at the bottom for an effortless effect) paired with a lightweight Midi Skirt, are the go-to items for first-dates, strolls around the West Village, or a casual Downtown dinner. We promise these garments are as good in practice as they are in Theory.

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Bottega Veneta

Ever since creative director Daniel Lee took over the Italian brand in 2018, Bottega Veneta has become a defining force in fashion for its minimalist designs that act as an anchor for your everyday wardrobe. No matter if you opt for a Cashmere-Blend Bodysuit or a pair of Lug Sole Lace Boots, each of Bottega Veneta’s pieces all carry the same centering effect: one of refined opulence. And though its ready-to-wear collections include the pared-back staples we’ve all come to adore, Bottega Veneta redefines minimalism on its own terms. By using various modes of color like its signature green hue and taffy pink (yes, you heard us correctly), it has broken free of the fashion codes that have long dictated subdued styling, making case for a diverse palette that is still sophisticated as a neutrals-only wardrobe; a notion further embraced through its use of materials like fur and woven leather. What’s more, Bottega Veneta’s logo absence has redefined the world of luxury accessories. While brands like Louis Vuitton have relied on monograms to make their mark, the Italian brand’s seamless aesthetic has been its first-class ticket to contemporary acclaim. But don’t just take our word for it, take a look yourself.

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Anna October

There’s the belief that minimalism is synonymous with being boring and unexciting. Well, not only does Ukrainian-based brand Anna October prove this wrong; it completely flips this misconception on its head. Cultivated on the hedonistic notions of freedom, fun, and, most importantly, fabulous clothes, Anna October aims to dress the adventurer in all of us. But that’s not to say that her collections are full of hiking boots and camping gear—far from it. Through the medium of silk and organic cotton (it prides itself on its environmentally-friendly practices) and earthy pastel hues, the brand has created a wardrobe for the ultimate modernist–for the type of person who wishes to sport an Ophelia Skirt at beachside bars in Miami but also needs a Cropped-Knit Cardigan for camp-fire nights spent in the Hamptons.

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With a philosophy of functionality, the Scandanavian fashion house COS aims to produce clothes that are not dictated by seasons or trends, but instead contain an enduring essence. In a sense, this taps into the deeper meaning of minimalist clothing: true luxury is having clothes you can wear time and time again. This is prominent in the brand’s womenswear collections where wide-leg linen trousers and cotton tops portray the type of technical tailoring that had the brand so appealing across such a wide market. Well, that and its affordable price points. Striking the perfect balance between thoughtfulness and casual coolness, COS clothes are for the woman who wants to dominate the urban jungle and look fabulous doing it.

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Hungarian brand Nanushka is built on the belief that functionality and beauty go hand-in-hand, much like Princess Diana and a Dior bag. Though not a name that simply rolls off the tongue (it was the designer’s Sandra Sador’s childhood nickname coined by her father), it’s a brand that people simply can’t stop talking about, thanks to its luxurious faux-leather apparel and accessories. But what makes the brand stand out amongst its competitors is the way it finds perfect harmony in everything it makes, whether that be combining masculine workwear with feminine silhouettes or vintage styles with modern materials. With each new collection, Nanushka proves it has a piece for everyone—you included.

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Max Mara

Much like Bottega Veneta, Italian brand Max Mara prides itself on how it uses texture to create a cohesive wardrobe with a stand-out quality. A notable example of this can be seen in its camel-colored Teddy Coat that promises comfort, polish, and a character-infused look different from your standard wool outerwear pieces. With their continuous minimalist through-line (seen within everything from its knitwear to its pants), Max Mara hopes to encourage women to shop consciously investing in staple pieces that are as luxurious as they look and have a lifeline beyond seasonal consumption.

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Acne Studios

While the aforementioned brands have displayed a die-hard approach to minimalism, Acne Studios walks the line between the latter and loud aesthetics—an attitude that’s reflective of its multidisciplinary premise which draws on art, culture, and all things contemporary. In a sense, this is what makes each of the brand’s pared-back products so interesting—they don’t appear by accident or as a second thought, they’re emblems of the brands’ holistic vision. From overcoats to statement boots to even oversized hoodies, each piece is carefully crafted to promote comfortability and maintain the Stockholm fashion house’s sleek and wholeheartedly unique look.

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If you weren’t aware, A.P.C. is a french brand, so it knows a thing or two about perfecting a seamless look with minimal effort. Starting in the competitive realm of jeans in 1987 (its denim shirt and pant offerings are the brand’s staples), A.P.C. has since expanded its design reach offering full menswear and womenswear collections. By combining an essentialist mindset with a commitment to manufacturing clothing that’s reflective of “real” people, each piece from its trench coats to its a-line skirts can stand their own in your wardrobe, meaning you need not worry about extra decoration.

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The Frankie Shop

 The Frankie Shop takes the best parts of the Parisian persona (think white shirts and relaxed denim) and reimagines what that would look like universally, in cities like London and New York. The result? A uniform of pastel-hued blouses, tomboy-inspired knitwear, and pleated trousers, which have become go-to options amongst the style set. Aside from predicting the pieces our wardrobes need before we even know ourselves, the beauty of The Frankie Shop is how it has made style feel accessible thanks to its wide range of products and affordable price points.

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We don’t say this often: Tôteme is the type of place you can shop at for the rest of your life and never need to go anywhere else. A bold statement, we know—but it’s not one without premise. Ever since the Stockholm-based brand hit the fashion scene in 2014, Tôteme has been providing precise, considered, outfit edits that perfectly encapsulate our ever-changing mood from season to season. It’s through rigorous testing and understanding of the modern woman that the brand is able to bridge the gap between want and need, offering a wardrobe that is both dependable and exciting—just look at its Double Breasted Suede Blazer.

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New York-based brand Khaite has turned everyday basics into covetable pieces we have come to lust after with each new collection. Launched in 2014, Khaite started carving a space for itself throughout its steady capsule of grown-up essentials (like tailored pants and soft knitwear) that ooze uptown luxury. But it was that 2018 street-style snap of actress Kaite Holmes in the brand’s now-in-demand cashmere bralette and cardigan that brought it to the front of everyone’s minds and wardrobes. Three years later, we still can’t stop thinking about Khaite. With its firm grip on modernity and enduring fashion, no matter whether you opt for the Mya Skirt or the Mila dress, the brand promises a feeling of cool-girl sophistication that you can sport time and time again.

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Arket (translating to “sheet of paper” in Swedish) gives you the foundational pieces to build your wardrobe as you see fit. Taking a slower approach to fashion, Arket offers clothing that you don’t need to overthink—the type of garments that can take you from the beach to the bar without that panic of “what if I stand out?” When donning Arket, you don’t stand out—you stand your own. Its functional fabrics, like cotton, linen, and seersucker, work to aid your everyday movements and provide a streamlined look so you can feel like your best self.

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