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Buenos Aires isn't the place to have a bespoke suit made. Smart T-shirts, jeans, jackets, and polo jerseys are the reigning style for porteños, and a number of designers have given the look a sophisticated polish. Etiqueta Negra is the most refined of the bunch, doing modern, Gucciesque clothes with a bit more machismo: velvet blazers, cashmere sweaters, leather jackets, perfect logoless tees. The label has blossomed into something closer to a lifestyle—like plenty of B.A. men, you could easily wear nothing else. There are six stores in town; the Patio Bullrich flagship (1229 Posadas; 54-11/4814-7430; etiquetanegra.us), filled with polo tackle, old photos, even a vintage motorcycle, is the one to know.
Somewhere between Marc Jacobs and Paul Smith is Felix (1670 Gurruchaga; 54-11/ 4832-2994; felixba.com.ar), B.A.'s edgiest men's store. The dark indigo jeans ($60) and pajama-soft T-shirts ($25) are the things to buy here—though your son might go wild for designer Martín Egozcue's rock-and-roll denim jackets. Egozcue is also creative director of Bensimon (Galerías Pacífico, corner of Florida and Córdoba; 54-11/ 5555-5238; bensimon.com.ar), Felix's preppier big brother. The cuts are more conservative—straight-fitting chinos, tame dress shirts—but there's still plenty of playfulness in the striped socks ($25) and cotton sweatshirts with woven designs ($60).
For expensive denim, it's all at Mercer (4677 El Salvador; 54-11/4831-4891). Fabián Venturino's cavernous space in Palermo Soho displays some 50 vintage-inspired designs, each crafted from fabric imported from Japan or Italy; his other label, Balthazar (5131 Gorriti; 54-11/4834-6235; balthazarshop.com), has an outpost a few blocks from Mercer and one in San Telmo (1008 Defensa; 54-11/4300-6926). No artful distressing or frayed edges here. The striped French-cuff shirts are Egyptian cotton ($130); the handwoven scarves ($100) are alpaca dyed pale blue or lavender.
The newcomer to the group is Spina (5887 Gorriti; 54-11/ 4774-3574; grupospa.com.ar). In a small showroom in Palermo Hollywood, Flavio Spina and Carla Cando create traditional but whimsical pieces, like pants with hand-embroidered waistbands ($125) and jackets with floral-print linings ($360).