The demise of suits started some time ago with the dramatic fall-off in the tie business (“real men don’t wear ties”), and has been exacerbated as career and office dress codes have been radically relaxed and men no longer need to wear suits regularly.
This summer, JP Morgan and PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) revised their dress codes. In a memo to staff at the start of the summer, JP Morgan said that it had decided to allow employees to wear business-casual attire on almost all occasions. PwC beat them by a few weeks, moving to a more casual dress code that allows employees to wear jeans except at client meetings.
The stereotype image of the banker (pinstriped suits and braces) created in 1987 by the combination of Tom Wolfe’s Bonfire of the Vanities and Oliver Stone’s Wall Street, proved astonishingly durable. It is now less and less the reality. It’s no accident that in The Big Short, the Adam McKay film based on Michael Lewis’s book about the financial crisis, the bad bankers – who created the problem – wear slick suits and ties, while the outsider traders and hedge-fund managers – who realised that everything was about to come tumbling down and tried to call foul, and even fraud – are dressed in jeans, shorts, T-shirts and jackets.
As the world of tech and the power of Silicon Valley have risen to challenge Wall Street, so have dress-down uniforms. The Sun Valley/Herb Allen fleece, seen as a symbol of a no-frills approach to the world, is now associated with the private equity and financial world, as are Shinola watches, Red Wing boots and bracelets.
But the fall-off in the tailored suit market is not just about the financial world and office dress codes: it has to do with changing tastes, new lifestyles and evolving socio-economic platforms. In sum, it’s going through an identity crisis that companies are trying to resolve. On the catwalk, labels such as Balenciaga are deconstructing the suit’s silhouette by exaggerating its proportions; other brands are incorporating sportswear elements to mix and match with tailored elements for a still smart but definitely less formal approach.
Will it work or are we just writing an elegy to traditional menswear as we know it? Let’s see, but, shows or no shows, the crisis at Brioni and other heritage tailoring companies underlines the question facing everyone in the business: “What exactly does the modern man want to wear?”
Capital updates
As London celebrates the 40th anniversary of Punk, we take a look at how the landscape of the capital and the attitudes of its creatives are changing. London’s artistic communities are constantly evolving, with hubs shifting from area to area as international developers swoop in to accelerate gentrification.
Womenswear ready-to-wear designers
As the new Nobel Prize winner for Literature once famously sang, “The times they are a changing” and, indeed, change was the key message from the S/S 2017 RTW shows.
Womenswear designer fabrics, silhouettes and styling details
Overall, dressed up wins over dressed down; madcap centre stage looks are at the forefront, whilst discrete stays quietly in the wings. There’s an explosion of glamour in the air, but it wouldn’t be S/S 2017 if this wasn’t injected with a shot of street attitude.
Menswear designer messages
Clear themes are cast aside. Designers traverse boundaries and effortlessly weave together influences, picking up inspiration on their travels and cleverly synthesizing them into cool originals.
The latest in womenswear fabric collections
The textile and fashion industry seems to be working in two parallel universes at the same time. As we look at the last additions to the leading collections for A/W 17/18 and highlight new directions that we feel will carry on into S/S 2018, we see only dualities and a whole new set of rules coming into play.
Menswear fabric orientations
We can feel the season fragmenting, expanding out to new dimensions and contracting back to basics. New looks proliferate and ‘themes’, as such, seem to have less traction. It is like a free selection at work where you can choose a skin to live in of your own choice, free of the diktats of fashion.
Womenswear fabric & colour forecast
S/S 2018 will be a season where designers experiment like scientists to create highly interesting and unpredictable textiles. This will be achieved by combining unexpected fibres together and applying innovative finishing processes.
Menswear fabric & colour forecast
Geographical boundaries are explored this season as themes take on an eclectic, collected quality. A renewed interest in analogue material processes, and the look and feel of being touched by human hand, is carried throughout the season as textiles are explored as art.
Accessories & trimmings forecast and inspirations
The season is full of simplicity with accessories that are furiously romantic, bold with an ethnic chic, sportingly futuristic and glamorously techno and shiny.
Womenswear knitwear colours, yarns and styling
Dynamic motivators in the knitwear field are shifting their focus more and more towards developing innovative and remarkable textiles; silhouettes and construction then follow where the materiality leads them.
Menswear knitwear styling concepts
Summer is never an easy time for knitwear and S/S 2018 will be no exception, but we can, at least, detect a few areas where a new sweater could tempt the consumer to add something that isn’t a basic to their shopping bag.
Womenswear knitwear forecast
A quirky ragged vibe is mainlining the creative process with challenging results. It’s as if the idea of perfection doesn’t appeal any more and conventional ideas of ‘good taste’ are being flouted.
Lifestyle: lessons form the current rise in food culture
There are lessons to be learned from the current rise in food culture that we are witnessing. Our focus on food is no longer just about nourishing our own bodies; minimising waste and feeding the entire planet are equally important concerns that influence the choices we make.
Textile innovations and the latest/blue-sky thinking in textiles
How to meet the needs of today’s consumers while anticipating those of tomorrow? Designers are developing forward-thinking models to spearhead a new fashion view. Driven by environmental, social and economic awareness, they analyse the industry – material production, manufacturing and sales – to innovate.