One of my favorite byproducts of this whole internet menswear movement is the breaking up of the private label monopoly. Thanks to various forums and blogs, the details on exactly is behind the production for some of the world’s biggest brands have now become public knowledge. This increase of interest in “who makes it” not “what label does it bear,” has allowed Rancourt, Golden Bear, New England Shirting, and countless other labels that also operate as contract factories for larger companies to create side projects of their own.
Of all these companies that have begun to step out on their own, I’ve been most impressed by the Italian outerwear brand Herno. Admittedly, Herno is at an advantage here, as they began as their own entity, before venturing into the world of private label production a few decades into their existence. Herno was founded as a raincoat brand by husband and wife team, Giuseppe Marenzi and Alessandra Diana, in Milan in 1948. During next few decades the couple expanded upon their initial rubber trenches to create a line of overcoats and jackets that found a receptive audience across Europe and Japan. In the eighties Herno arrived in the U.S. and shortly thereafter the brand began producing jackets for everyone from Ralph Lauren to Prada to Jil Sander. Of course, these jackets never carried the Herno label, so you’d never know that while the tag might’ve said Ralph, what you were actually buying was an impeccable piece of Italian outerwear.
Today, Herno has shifted focus, and most of their production is once again dedicated to their namesake label. Decades ago, when other brands were searching for an outerwear factory, it was fit and quality that led them to Herno, and it’s these same characteristics that make Herno’s own label worth mentioning during any discussion on Italian outerwear. Their slim-fitting down jackets were what made the brand famous, but the brand has now gone far beyond that, crafting a collection that includes everything from cropped puffer jackets, to taped-seamed macs, to hooded duffle coats. As with all collections though, it’s the details that have kept me thinking about the brand a week after seeing it in person. With checked patterns, earthy tones, Bogart-esque trenches, cinched cuffs, and accent pockets, scattered throughout (just to name a few), there’s a lot to take in, but Herno’s latest offering is certainly worth your time.