Once upon a time, the suit was a uniform. If you had a big personality and wanted to express it, you bought a brightly colored tie, pink with little elephants, or something of the sort. But your suit was not dissimilar from the other suits in the city: you didn’t suit yourself, your local suit store did.
Today, the continued march away from mandatory work-week attire, coupled with the ultra-individuality of a selfie-snapping generation that’s more self-centered than ever, is having a profound effect on suiting. Guys aren’t buying nested suits like they used to, but they are buying separates. These pieces can be incorporated more creatively into outfits where comfort and casual cool are balanced carefully with the desire to appear well dressed for any cell phone cameras that might be clicking.
“At retail, a more creative approach is key,” explains Michael Fisher, creative director, men’s and lifestyle/culture at trend forecasting company Fashion Snoops. “Most younger consumers are looking for expressive ways of adding value to their suiting purchases. More than ever before, the separate is key due to the consumer wanting the freedom to mix and match according to his needs.”
Bruce Pask, men’s fashion director at Bergdorf Goodman, agrees that merchandising these pieces properly is vital. “At Goodman’s, we are always trying to best ourselves in the way we merchandise and represent all of our collections, including tailoring,” he says. “We continuously analyze and evolve our presentations throughout the store, an important way to visually inform our customer, increasing his product and styling awareness.”
As lines between formal and casual continue to shift, clothing appears in more unexpected markets. “Tailoring doesn’t sit in its own corner in the same way it used to,” says WGSN men’s director Volker Ketteniss. “We’re seeing a blending between tailoring and sportswear, tailoring and activewear, and tailoring and streetwear.”
At least that’s true for now. “This stuff is always cyclical,” says Brian Trunzo, co-founder of Carson Street Clothiers. “We’ll see the casualization of clothing continue for the time being, but at some point people will want to dress up again.”