A Welcome Stitch-Up

Suiting is back … albeit relaxed, bold and demanding some ’80s attitude.

By Damien Woolnough 23/09/2019

Fans of double vents, notched lapels and cuffed trousers rejoice – because a world where wardrobes are overrun with logo-riddled hoodies, shiny tracksuit bottoms, neon bum bags and workout gear remains in a galaxy far, far away. The Supreme effect, where skateboard style threatened to dominate luxury fashion, has thankfully now subsided as a relaxed approach to tailoring looks to triumph. You can see it on the runway at Louis Vuitton, where menswear designer Virgil Abloh upgraded his Off White aesthetic with billowing trousers worn beneath buttoned-up shirts and boxy blazers in boyish pastels.

Know that these are not the uptight suits of dandies, your dad or early-aughties hipsters – no, this latest approach to soft tailoring exudes the look-at-me playfulness of street style, albeit on a street that has valet parking for your Porsche.

As recently seen elsewhere in Europe, business check jackets aggressively topped acid floral pants at Dries Van Noten, Paul Andrew’s mint green Salvatore Ferragamo suits with sloping shoulders were relaxed enough to wear with espadrilles, while our beloved Hermès asserted itself with narrow jackets and wide-legged pants, tellingly worn with neckerchiefs, not ties (because, well, it’s Hermès).

Luxury labels have finally hit upon a sweet spot where men can still enjoy the flattering effect of a single-breasted jacket and tailored pants, but express their creativity with softer silhouettes, contemporary fabrics and accessories that spread well beyond those boring boundary markers of matching belt and brogues in brown or black. Ironically, this new era of relaxed tailoring – with unstructured suiting teamed with pima cotton T-shirts and rumpled linen shirts in a gelato tray of colours – rode in on the same ’80s revival that brought short shorts, long socks and singlets back onto stylists’ frenetic radars.

The louche approach to daringly unbuttoned shirts tucked into high-waisted, wide-legged trousers, seen on the street at the recent menswear shows across Paris, echoes Giorgio Armani’s career-defining move outfitting Richard Gere in American Gigolo.

Elsewhere, Simon Jacquemus may have set his most recent menswear show in a lavender field in Provence, but the oversized pale blue jackets with pleated trousers and Hawaiian shirts were pure television crack Miami Vice. These elements of ’80s nostalgia are alluring, though the ‘new tailoring’ is ultimately a (firm, closed fist) slap in the smug face of athleisure lovers.

Despite the best efforts of some, luxury is no longer looking as though it’s heading for the gym in stretch pants and a sweat-wicking T-shirt to perform kettlebell squats while clutching an over-sized coffee cup. Because if the eternally buff Chris Hemsworth can walk the streets of New York in a floral suit and T-shirt between workouts, there’s no excuse for posing as a personal trainer 24/7.OK, so hoodies, baggy shorts, mesh singlets and gold chains haven’t completely disappeared from view – we’ll always need outfits for Jaden Smith to sport as paparazzi bait – though know we’re moving up and away from what has been, returning to the comfort and class that is a half-lined jacket as the boys in the hood give way to gentlemen in cashmere blends.

This column comes from our 2019 Spring Edition – Best of the Best, to get your copy click here.


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