IS FOR MAL WEAR DEAD-OR JUST RESTING?
It didn’t occur to me that this was such a hot- but ton topic i n the menswear community until last year, when I was sitting on a designer judging committee, which shal l remain nameless (I sit on a lot). In the running was a talented young tailoring designer who I was arguing should win. Al l of a sudden, a buyer stood up in f ront of the committee and started shouting. “But you don’t understand!” he yel led. “Young people only want casualwear. It’s over!”
This i mpassioned man was wear ing a hoodie, trackpants and trainers. He dressed as he spoke, and he was over 50. Wel l, I h ave no reason t o question his s ales f igures, o r h is b elief t hat t he casualization of menswear has swept up to his generation. But t here’s a lways a d anger i n s weeping general izations.
Is tai loring dead? I don’t think so, for a lot of reasons. Just as Establ ishment fashion declares something dead, you can absolutely bet that it’s about to come back. It becomes the backlash, the rebel l ion, but never in a way that the Establ ishment expects. That’s the joy of tracking young fashion! So f irst, let’s look at the Establishment itself: the two-piece suit is stil l the lingua franca of male power. Like it or not, it’s self-evident that the blue business suit is the default uni form of today’s corporate men, bankers and politicians. It’s exactly what you see both Emmanuel Macron and Donald Trump wearing, two men of vastly dif fering age, shape and politics. Even in these days when we suspect the world is being run by shadowy geeks manipulating algorithms in hoodies and sweatpants, what did Cambridge Analytica’s Alexander Nix wear to make his presentations? A navy blue suit. And what did Mark Zuckerberg turn up in to face questioning in Congress? Precisely.
As for young men and the designers they admire? I would argue that on the graph of avant-garde fashion, we hit peak hoodie last year. Now, it’s about the reinvention and reintegration of formal wear. At this year’s Central Saint Martins MA s how t he class of 2018 had five menswear graduates who majored in tailoring. The slickest, Archie AlledMartinez, made his whole collection, including louche tuxedos, in knit. Martine Rose, the underground idol of London, devotes half of her collection to suits, the other half to sportswear. Raf Simons’s fall collection had checked tweed suits. Demna Gvasalia’s fall collection had the ultimate modernized double-breasted blazers: not tailored, but moulded for a razor-sharp silhouette.
What of designers real ly young boys obsessively care about, and wi l l stand in l ine d ay a nd n ight t o buy? See their hero, Gosha Rubchinskiy’s ‘ f inal’ collection. Yes there were tracksuits, footbal l shirts and parkas.
But right in the middle was a pointer to somewhere else, a new direction, the merge. With an Adidas logo on the breast, and the brand’s signature white stripes on the shoulder, there it was: a black t ailored suit.