If you ask Montenegro-born artist-turned-designer Stefan Miljanic about his obsession with using Old World techniques like hand-knitting and volcanic-mud-dying for his label Gilded Age—named for the historical era from which he borrows both manufacturing and aesthetic cues—there’s a good chance he’ll bust out an old Latin proverb on you. “History is life’s best teacher,” says Miljanic. “You need to look at how things were done in the past, which you can adapt and enhance for the current world.”
And though we’ll admit that recent years have seen an oversaturation of the idea of “heritage” clothing, with everyone and their brother’s T-shirt lines trying to cash in on some implied authenticity by pointing to days gone by, Gilded Age is the real deal. Founded in 2006 as a reaction against fast fashion and mass production, it’s entirely too young to draw on dusty in-house archives, but Miljanic’s fixation on Industrial Revolution-era manufacturing processes and carefully sourced materials makes for a collection that ranks among the best—and most honest—of historically informed menswear.
At first, Miljanic’s eye for authenticity was trained squarely on jeans. Great details like two-piece rivets and reinforced seams were crucial. “And then there’s the denim itself—natural indigo, hand-dyed yarns. It’s the best in the industry right now.” But before long, things expanded to a full collection of casual gear for guys, with everything from shirting and leather jackets to knitwear that makes one seriously impressive case for taking the extra time to craft something by hand. A women’s collection is in the works for sometime in the future, but for now, Miljanic is happy to keep (slowly) churning out thoughtfully made wares for the Gilded Age man. “He’s a person who appreciates hard work and things made by hand rather than mass produced—things that have a little more of a story than a basic pair of jeans or a sweater.”