Ask The Rake: The Future Of Menswear
Submitted by @chadnarayan on Instagram, he asks what the future of menswear will look like as more men gravitate away from suits.
The debate on the future of the suit is one that has been going on for a while, way before Covid-19 changed the course of how we dress. When Kit Blake co-founder Chris Modoo started making strides with his, well, strides, he made a point to claim that the ‘suit’, in its traditional sense, ‘is dead’. The idea that a navy pinstripe suit immediately shouted ‘banker’ and not much else, has posed the question as to whether this is now being applied to suits on the whole. Wearing a suit jacket and matching trousers feels quite traditional, unless you’re doing your utmost to dress it down (think rollnecks and trainers, camp collar shirts, or button downs without a tie). The suit seemed to be headed in the direction of ‘casualisation’. Within boardrooms in the city, particularly in London, you’d see a lot more industry folk starting to lose the tie, or bringing with them a change of footwear for the commute. Footwear brands like Scarosso in turn started adapting to this, creating classic trainer silhouettes in muted colours that could work nicely with a pair of trousers. Another step change that was becoming more and more visible was the mix-and-match approach. Dark brown double-breasted jackets with charcoal grey trousers in the winter, to navy high-twist lightweight cotton SBs with pleated white trousers in summer. The need to have an ensemble that could adapt between long days in the city and evenings spent at bars and events, combined with the importance of durability during travel were all key factors that slowly implemented a change in tack. “Mens’ spending habits have changed too,” remarks Modoo. “Traditionally, a business suit would have been a significant outlay. Men spend differently nowadays and will pay a premium for clothes that they want to wear in their own time. As work and leisure blur, so do dress codes.” If this was a slow, gradual saunter, Covid-19 pushed it into lightspeed. A year on, and most of us have probably spent more time indoors in 2020 to date, than we did in the past five years combined. Okay, perhaps not, but you get my point. The need to wear a suit took a back seat in favour of loungewear (with exception for the Zoom call). The novelty of this wore off relatively quickly, however, as motivation began to dwindle and fatigue of routine set in. Whilst a lot of us are now firmly in the camp of looking forward to dressing up again, one thing that will prevail and change the future of the suit is the importance of comfort, of feeling positive and feeling good. Bespoke tailor Caroline Andrew writes, “I have noticed people are fed up of sloppy dressing for zoom calls and bored of being casually dressed at home. Most clients are eager to hit the ground running and come out of lockdown looking better than before. The cloth we use for suits will temporarily change, become softer and more informal, but the suit style and cut itself will not.” You’ve seen a surge in soft structure and unlined jackets, adaptable silhouettes and meticulously thought-out design: see Private White V.C.’s Work From Anywhere Blazer, or the Magnus & Novus Travel Jacket. Trousers from Kit Blake, Informale and Rubinacci too, have combined a traditional shape with significantly casual drawstring waistbands. Brands are looking for the middle ground between formal attire and ease of wear. The desire to dress smartly is growing again, but now, comfort isn’t being compromised. An interesting point is whether this will infiltrate black tie. Writes Modoo, “The area I am most excited about is cocktail dressing. The new formal for going out or to entertain at home. Mixing traditional elements with casual items - velvet smoking jackets with knits and flannels, t-shirts and linen trousers dressed-up with velvet pumps.” Though we are seeing a casualisation of the suit, that’s not to say that tailoring is in any way waning. There’s no denying that 2020 was tough on bespoke artisans, with their services coming to a standstill when lockdown was first enforced. But adaptability has been key to its survival — from virtual consultations to socially distanced fittings, and funnily enough, working from home. Many tailors have been able to ply their trade (almost) as usual, because their skill sets allow for that level of flexibility. The fact consumers are also becoming more conscious of sustainability combined with the impact fast fashion is having on the world, offers light at the end of the tunnel. People are willing to spend less frequently, choosing instead to invest in garments that offer longevity by way of quality craftsmanship and timeless style. This has extended beyond bespoke makers too, with ready-to-wear brands looking at ways to provide the best in quality, at affordable price points. A core principle of The Rake Tailored Garments — our debut tailoring collection — and for all collections that follow, is to offer the finest quality clothing without having to spend astronomically to attain them. It’s a sure fire way to work on the impact we’re all having, ensuring a better world for the next generations. In fact, there are also opinions of the Roaring Twenties and this decade following suit (see what I did there?); a modern-day Années folles. Whichever way it ultimately goes, one thing is for sure: the future of menswear, and the adaptation of the suit, has never been more exciting. Thank you to @chadnarayan for submitting. If you’d like to ask us a question, be sure to follow us on Instagram and submit yours.