There was a time not so long ago that 'smart' and 'casual' were
two mutually exclusive tribes. You were either in one or the other,
a demarkation that presented acolytes of both with no little
confusion when asked to an event for which the dress code was
'smart casual'. For members of the former, that perhaps meant
dropping the suit for separates and switching out the Oxfords for
loafers, while for the latter, well, they were in a right fix.
Upgrade the sneakers? Tuck in the polo? Throw a jacket over the
hoodie? For my mind, dressing down the smart proves far easier than
dressing up the casual.
And yet, recently, there has been something of a coming together
of these polarities that just feels right. It's not so much that
casual has raised its game, nor that smart has dumbed down.
Instead, smart has evolved, creating a sub-species of tailoring
with comfort as its modus operandi. Don't worry - we're not about
to advocate wearing clumpy kicks with pleated trousers. The new
breed of smart-casual's tenets are taken firmly from the canon of
classic menswear, with a little plagiarism from the book of casual,
creating what is essentially a palimpsest of extremely wearable,
versatile and comfortable clothing made with passion and
Of the proponents of this new wave of menswear, KA/NOA is hands
down the standout creator. Founded in 2017 by Bruno Grande,
KA/NOA is his determination to create a no-nonsense, elegant,
comfortable, practical masculine wardrobe consisting of timeless
basics exclusively made in Italy using local raw materials. It's
Bruno's personal response to the ephemeral nature of fashion and
the superficial tendencies of the world today. Bruno's father,
Pietro was a tailor, upholsterer and decorator. Patterns,
chalk, fabric and scissors were his passion and he personally made
his son his first jacket. Bruno in turn inherited his father’s
passion for beautiful fabrics used to create smooth, comfortable
garments with an authentic look.
The fashion industry is quick to label a trend, and in recent
years anything remotely resembling tailoring, but crafted with the
soft lines of equally soft fabrics has found itself with the
moniker of 'travel wardrobe,' precisely because it's so
comfortable. KA/NOA is far more than a travel wardrobe, I can
assure you. Comfort shouldn't be negotiable and Bruno's pieces make
certain of this.
What I personally love about Bruno's aesthetic is that he has
dialled back any and every superfluous detail so that the focus is
entirely of the silhouette and fabrication. There are no bells and
whistles or fanciful distractions, just clothing that feels good on
because it looks good on. The soft structures drape beautifully on
the body, whether it's a cotton polo, cashmere hoodie or
double-breasted merino blazer. The colour palette, too, is
pleasingly restricted to neutral tones - lots of rich navy hues,
tonal greys and pastel beige, making them incredibly easy to
assimilate into your wardrobe. Then there's the tactility of the
natural fibres, leather and suede that Bruno uses, removing any
doubt that KA/NOA still epitomises the true meaning of luxury.
Shop the full KA/NOA collection here.