A poor cousin to cool camel, gorgeous grey and beautiful black, brown has rarely transcended its perpetual status as “the new brown”. The Guardian, earlier this year, referred to it as “the Volvo estate of colours”. Its inferior position on the spectral hierarchy goes back to the dawn of man: the colours of fire and sky were always going to stir human emotion more than that of mud, while our biological predisposition has driven our sentiments towards the colour of plants, rather than that of the soil from which they spring, as the givers of life. No wonder this polychromatic hodgepodge, this jumble of much better hues mixed together, denoted poverty throughout the Middle Ages.
But is the colour associated with the least sexy of the four elements, earth, having struggled to be anywhere near as popular as its vibrant counterparts throughout history, coming in from the cold? Are choice chestnut, awesome auburn, beautiful bronze and haute hazels now an essential part of a man’s sartorial spectrum? “It’s actually an incredibly versatile colour that works well as an accessory or a main piece,” says Chris Modoo, Chester Barrie’s creative director. “Brown jackets combine elegantly with trousers in grey, cream or navy and shirts of ecru, blue or pink. As part of an appropriate fabrication, it’s a shade that can be worn in any season and in any climate. We’ve had great success with our tobacco linen blazer, while a brown chalk-stripe flannel suit is a beautiful statement – a sign of a gentleman who already has a wardrobe full of classic greys and navies.”