British Style Is Growing Up



I don't know about you, but I was simply glued to the presentations for London Collections: Men last month. As ever, they prove to be the height of sartorial inspiration for the fashionable chap and a true showcase for British fashion talent.

This year's LC:M was, in my view, particularly fine (certainly one of the most exciting shows I've seen) and the reason why, is because British fashion seems to be developing a more united esthetic. Even more excitingly, this unification of British style across different menswear brands and sectors of the market, all revolves around The reason that I find this development so exciting is because this indicates a real kind of symbiosis on the part of British designers, and increased appreciation of what British tailoring really stands for. British retailers are coming to all develop and support the kind of aesthetic that one might expect to be truly 'British' in tailoring.

Permit me to explain, British tailoring has its own certain style - British suits, just like American, Parisian or Italian suits are made in a certain way, which conforms to the traditions of our unparalleled tailoring heritage. British suits are made with a very formal, classic shape. The jacket is cut long for an elegant line through the body and the trousers have a high rise. Lapels are imposing and broad, helping to add shape to the chest, which is often cut full and built-up using lots of structure for an impressive aesthetic. Jacket waists present a subtle hourglass silhouette, shoulders present strong, sharp lines, armholes are cut high for ease of movement and sleeve-heads are attached using an equally strong, defined 'roped shoulder' - whereby the sleeve-head is gathered and rolled into an angular ridge where it is attached to the body of the jacket.

American suits by contrast feature softer construction and a looser, dare I say less shapely fit, and Parisian and Italian suits are generally considered more relaxed and contemporary, made with the minimum of structure, lighter cloths, slimmer lines and soft set-in-sleeve 'Neapolitan' shoulders. One can see then, why British tailoring presents a clear image on the world stage - British garments present a unique and quintessentially masculine style of structure and shape.

As LC:M made clear, these aesthetic traits are not only re-establishing themselves, but the latest generation highly talented menswear designers (and tailors) are confidently delivering menswear collections with an attractively modernised, yet tailoring-heavy British aesthetic. In essence, British tailoring is being made more relevant and appropriate for the modern man; its starting to pose more of a challenge to the dressed-down, easy to throw on Italian blazer. We Brits are rolling out structured flannel double breasted blazers, powerful, highly structured and sculpted three piece suits and impressive overcoats fit to bursts - its both refreshing, and a reassuring prospect to see and it indicates a renewed interest in imposing formalwear, over relaxed and dressed down tailoring in the international menswear market.

Furthermore, the latest wave of British designs, seem all to be on message not only in terms of style and structure, but in their use of colour too. Tailoring companies, at all ends of the spectrum, presented a palate of deep forest greens, navies, charcoals, chocolate and taupe tailored pieces at LC:M making strong use of textured and subtly patterned cloths, classic stiff British white shirts, and rich restrained pops of colour in their accessories.

The other intensely exciting development that this renewed focus on British tailoring points towards, is that British men are returning to sartorially influenced, classic British clothing once more. Moreover, this is happening on the international stage too; Chester Barrie have started retailing in Verona and Mestre, Gieves & Hawkes have over 100 stores in Asia, over 70 percent of Savile Row's business comes from the USA and M & S's sartorially inspired ranges (made with British cloths) are flying off British tailoring has always had elevated status in the men's fashion world, but in the modern age where clothing and lifestyle is becoming ever more casual and relaxed - the very antithesis of formal wear and dressing to impress - it is highly reassuring to see the identity of British tailoring finding a more secure and popular place than ever in the luxury menswear market.

Aleksandar Cvetkovic writes for the Code of the Gentleman

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