Clean lines, luxurious fabrics, and an exacting fit, these are the ideals upon which Theory was founded—albeit originally as a woman’s line—back in 1997. Created as a partnership between fashion industry veterans Andrew Rosen and Elie Tahari, Theory quickly established itself as the go-to retailer in New York for smart, yet understated, pieces that didn’t sacrifice comfort for style. The plan worked, and two years later Theory debuted its first men’s collection.
Playing off the minimalist aesthetic championed at the time by designers like Raf Simons and Helmut Lang, the men’s line emphasized slim-fitting suits—with appropriately narrowed details—and skinny ties to pair them with. From there, Theory expanded into shirting, knits, pants, and outerwear, all with an eye for the same sleek silhouettes that put them on the map in the first place.
Tahari left in 2003 (Rosen remains on as CEO), the same year that Theory was acquired by the parent company of Uniqlo, who sought to expand the brand into a global market. While still headquartered in NYC, Theory now has stand-alone boutiques around the world, including a sizable fan base in (no surprise), Japan. In 2011, Theory tapped Belgian designer Olivier Theyskens, formally of Rochas and Nina Ricci, to create a woman’s capsule collection for the brand, later elevating him to Artistic Director. On the men’s side, though, things keep moving along according to the formula that made the brand such a success in the first place. So expect more sharp wool blazers, versatile cotton overcoats, and perfectly fitted sweaters—the kind those fans keep reaching for.