brooks brothers

The suit is dead! Long live the suit.

Marks & Spencer have announced their ditching the humble suit. Josh Lee makes a case for its mainstream revival

If you’re the kind of guy who has likened the feel of herringbone to a religious epiphany; is synced up to the rhythms of the Thom Sweeney release schedule the way that millennials were once synced up to the rhythms of Buzzfeed clickbait; and prioritises a lint roller (and emergency rolls) over travel insurance when packing for the red eye, then, like me, you probably know of the puritanical virtues of a suit.

In a good suit, perhaps one done out in a versatile tone that the stitching whisperers have a penchant for, say navy or charcoal grey (or tan, if that’s what your inner Obama yearns for), I concurrently feel the most comfortable version of myself I can ever be — a nomad whose soul has been recovered; myself squared — and someone else entirely, the sort of man whose time many might think is spent (it is not) perusing racks of Persols in the duty free, noting down inspired lamentations and podcast ideas with a Montblanc, and extolling the virtues of New World wines. Staring at a good suit, I begin to comprehend the notion of possibility, as the supple, luscious exoskeleton of fabric yells out to be filled — with grace, with potential, with the poise of someone whose gait leaves behind a trail of rare air.  

james bond sir sean connery 007 ian fleming dr no
Sean Connery: an exponent of tailoring at its finest — and in its heyday, perhaps

For decades, luxury was synonymous with the acquisition of some fine Brioni or new lace-ups from Crockett & Jones. The likes of Connery, McQueen, Kennedy, and, in more recent times, Gosling and Craig gave rise and validation to the two- and three-piece. Tailoring trends shifted from flared, looser cuts, to power pinstripes, to the Hedi Slimane-inspired cigarette-slim silhouettes of the Noughties. And for every wedding or company do that yearned for a polished statement or your finest Mark Ronson impression, the suit would always take a gent’s fancy. 

Yet, as the dial of fashion has continued to turn towards the bolder and brighter, the louder and faster, athleisurewear and stretchy streetwear, fadwear and dadwear, and the slow bleed of formalwear was dealt its most recent blow by M&S who recently announced that it has dropped suits at over half of its 254 stores, it feels as though the worlds of Savile Row and sprezzatura may have their days numbered. With client meetings at Cecconi’s having been swapped with Zoomathons in frayed loungewear, and the living room becoming the defacto boardroom, you can’t resist the thought that with every sale of a boxy BAPE hoodie comes the premature retirement of a slick-handed fabric-cutting prodigy.

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