Vive la liberation! It’s been two decades and enough is enough. Like prophetic curmudgeon Howard Beale in Sydney Lumet’s Network, “I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.” From this day forward I vow to eschew all jackets that had me trussed like a Thanksgiving turkey and headed straight for the nearest osteopath such was their corseted oppression on my manly figure. Over the last twenty years we’ve seen suits shrink to insufferable proportions bringing with them nothing but physical discomfort and psychological malaise. Seriously some of these suits felt conceived by the R&D department of the Spanish Inquisition. Jacket hem lines were lifted to that of airline stewardess’. Pants became so narrow they cut of the blood flow to our mighty nether regions. Trouser cuffs were hemmed so high it looked like we lived in perpetual fear of Old Testament like floods and cloth was pulled so tight as to invoke the surface tension of overcooked sausage skins about to explode.
Well that’s it. I’m done. Basta! Finitio! De Montague out. If there is any damn thing that 2020 has taught me, with its worldwide pandemic, cultural upheaval, social distancing and sheltering at home it is the following. First for the most part pants are entirely optional. And second comfort my friends is king. So when my friends at The Rake told me that they were planning on launching their eponymous brand The Rake Tailored Garments, which was meant to reconcile the apparently disparate elements of style and comfort I was like, “Hold up amigos. First of all the idea is not an entirely original one. Removing stiffness and adding strategic volume has long been the hallmark of both Neapolitan Tailoring and the British drape. But when they explained they were creating an international hybrid jacket, with Neapolitan shirt sleeve shoulders and London chest drape paired with a decidedly Parisian lapel and button stance based on The Rake’s 11 years of experience in tailoring I was like this will either turn out like the ultimate bastard child of the tailoring world, or be an admittedly derivative but still appealing style of coat. I’m pleased to report the RTG – how they love their acronyms at The Rake - jacket is more the later rather than the former.
Second I would question the relevance of tailored garments in 2020 - a year where casualization became so accelerated thanks to the ceaseless plethora of zoom and Microsoft teams calls, in which your truly was usually “a poil” from the waist down. I mean really who the hell wants to put on a suit this year? Well as it turns out quite a few people who feel style is a statement of resistance against the inclemency of this annus horribilis. But the key thing is that people need to feel comfortable. To have their clothes offer them the same sense of emotional support as the Peanuts character Linus derived from being swaddled in his beloved emotional support blanket. And in this regard the RTG jacket with its super soft construction, its louche Shar-Pei like folds of drape bellied by its sharp styling fits the bill perfectly. Seriously, I can’t remember the last time I was able to fit everything I needed into the pockets of my jacket without my accoutrement disturbing its line. But with the Rake Tailored Garments Agnelli flannel double breasted jacket miraculously the damn thing actually looked better with my wallet, glasses, lighter, cigar case, notebook and hip flask stuffed into its numerous capacious pockets. As an aside there are pockets everywhere, there are even hidden “diamond pockets” in the waistband of the trousers though God knows what those are for.
I have to admit the damn jacket is comfortable. Often after a long day the first thing I want to do is fling of my tailored coat aside and glare at is angrily for the many aches and pains it has afflicted. With the RTG jacket I actually forgot I had it on and wore it in schlepping around the house as it was my house robe or comfy, frayed cardigan. Indeed I think I might have even stuffed my indomitable sausage dog Thor down the front of the jacket to answer the door to the DHL delivery person keeping me sane during these trying times.
And then there is of course RTG’s idea of saluting the most “iconic” garments in sartorial history from the afore mentioned Agnelli suit made from the same VBC (Vitale Barberis Canonico) historically worn by L’Avvocato himself to a Miles Davis Prince of Wales using Fox Brothers cloth. I was fearful the result would be somewhat costume like but the combination of the soft deconstructed cut makes the clothes somehow relevant and modern. There is a relaxation to them that brings to mind Basquiat painting barefoot in his Armani suits. Interestingly I ended up particularly falling in love with the white flannel number that pays homage to Bryan Ferry despite my initial reservations of it being a soupscon too outre. Even better I wear it with tennis shoes and T shirts or Polos which is a demonstration that this softer more voluminous cut pairs equally well with business or casual attire.
Finally there was the price of the Rake’s clothing. I think we can all agree that everyone has become particularly sensitive to value after the financial shit show of 2020. As such my appetite for costly finery is shall we say dulled for the time being as I struggle to pay alimony for my three ex-wives and continue to put my six idiot children through Ivy League universities where they discuss Kierkegaard while whacked out of their gourds on absinthe and genetically modified rapper weed. So it was that I was very pleasantly surprised that at 695 pounds for a jacket and 195 pounds for a pair of trousers, everything is sold as separates, with all of the garments made in Puglia, Italy I could indulge my sartorial penchant while having enough money to just squeak by. So it seems that in 2020 the craziest of all years there apparently is room for a new tailored clothing brand but one that espouses the very old importance of value and comfort along with style, two things that we might have forgotten but because of our experiences in 2020 are now more important than ever.
Please see here to view The Rake Tailored Garments collection.
ContributorWarren de Montague