The suit isn’t dead, it’s dancing
Contrary to what you might have read (or seen in the office), the suit isn’t dead. If you don’t believe me, matchesfashion.com’s men’s tailoring category has seen an impressive increase of 147 per cent year-on-year. So, if that’s anything to go by, we can say with a strong degree of confidence that the suit is very much alive and kicking. In fact, it’s probably doing a little two-step on its vacant grave.
In celebration of this, the e-tailer has an upcoming exhibition at its HQ in Mayfair titled ‘The Suit Project’, which consists of a mixture of photographic and video art. It focuses on 20 suits from 20 fashion houses, each one shot by photographer Paul Gore and the company’s men’s style director, Simon Chilvers. Damien Paul, Head of Menswear at MatchesFashion, believes that because each suit has been photographed in a different setting, ‘it really brings out the individuality and diversity of how each designer has approached the tailoring.’
Now, to hark back to those figures for a brief second. Matches isn’t referring to suits of the single-breasted, navy worsted wool variety that drown out the The City of London each working day. On the contrary, Matches is referring to design-lead, fashionable and sexy suits that are challenging the staid styles that have come before them.
It’s these kinds of suits that have reinvigorated tailoring and made it ‘cool’ once again. But, it’s also about ‘creating a new way of looking at one of the most traditional garments a man could own,’ adds Paul. As such, these designers have given a newfound relevance to the more traditional kind found on Savile Row.
So what does this mean for the cradle of bespoke tailoring and classic suiting, otherwise known as Savile Row, I ask? According to Paul, this revolution or evolution, depending on how you see it, can only be a good thing. ‘I think there is still a market for more traditional tailoring and a few business sectors still expect their staff to be more traditionally dressed but it’s interesting to see how the skill and craftsmanship in tailoring can still be disrupted in a more modern way. I think if anything the current trend benefits Savile Row and renews interest in the suit.’
At the men’s autumn/winter 2019 shows earlier this year, unusual numbers of models were sent down runways in a myriad of interestingly-cut jackets with varied proportions, profound lapel styles and askew button configurations, plus trousers that were voluptuous in drape and volume. ‘Some of them are based on very traditional aspects of tailoring – look at Maison Margiela with the tuxedo. It all looks to the classicism of the suit and revolutionises the way it is constructed and reconstructed,’ says Paul. Overall though, a lot of the tailoring showcased was bold and rebellious but Paul also thinks that ‘some of the designer tailoring is fairly classic and quite commercial.’ It seems then that there are harmonies between both classic and fashion.
It’s not just the way the jackets are cut though, ‘it is down to how it is styled,’ adds Paul and this exhibition serves up fresh ways of how you can and could style your suit. Take a look at the January shows and you’ll notice that all of the tailored looks weren’t paired stiff-collared shirts, ties and pocket squares. Quite the opposite, with designers opting for T-shirts and vests, and for some nothing at all.
If you’re struggling to visualise this, the work of the photographer Gore should help you along the way. But, above all, don’t forget about your suit, there’s much more life yet to give and new ways you can play around with them. While you might not need to wear a suit to work, it’s all about wearing a suit after work, and these works of art will supply endless amounts of inspiration.
The Suit exhibition runs from 14 to 26 October at 5 Carlos Place, Mayfair, W1K 3AP, matchesfashion.com