More sartorial lessons from the old school

PUBLISHED : Friday, 10 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 10 February, 2012, 12:00am


You can't have missed the reinvigoration of men's traditional fashions over the past few seasons. Style-conscious men have boosted industry sales while women's fashion remains at saturation point. Although 'heritage' is one of the most overused words in the industry, there is value to having a long one. In today's aggressive fast fashion context, where labels vie for their share of the market, a history is one of the few things you can't buy.

When the recession started to bite, heritage grew in popularity, and with television series such as Mad Men and Boardwalk Empire gaining sartorial traction, men have leaned towards a traditional, tailored dandy look that is still undeniably masculine.

This is a global trend, and the mainland is no exception. Chinese men are notorious status dressers: Italian suits paired with conspicuous branded luxury bags and a big expensive Rolex.

These wealthy businessmen buy into the idea of power dressing, and harnessing the power of heritage labels is popular option. But it isn't just the suited and booted that have taken on Old World styles; little emperors and stylish avant-gardists have also caught on to the charms of sartorial classicism.

This is a time when you're just as likely to see a guy in a tweed waistcoat, Diesel jeans and trainers as one in a Ermenegildo Zegna suit with a Ralph Lauren pocket square.

It's all about the new variants of the old school. Take a look at The Armoury, Moustache and Colonial Goods, which have championed the aesthetic locally.

More and more young Chinese men are embracing an old world tailored look. And China being one of the only places in the world where men outspend women on fashion and beauty products, this is great news for the industry. They are wearing simply tailored double breasted jackets without all the bells and whistles (no gold Captains buttons please).

Neckwear, in the form of bow ties, ties and scarves, is now popularly worn in countless bright colours and patterns. The same goes for handkerchiefs and pocket squares. Men are now no longer afraid to don a pair of bright blue trousers, and if they are made from an old school material, then all the better.

The old and the new are creating a tidy symbiosis. And modernising the look of a three-piece suit also benefits English tailors on Savile Row and Italian masters. Even at the fast fashion level, collaborations with heritage companies may hold the key to preserving classic menswear trades.

British high street store Jack Wills has worked with English boutique Cordings - famous for popularising the Mackintosh, their huge selection of hunting tweeds and a rainbow selection of cords - to make corduroy trousers for its young, hip clientele.

Jack Wills has managed to bring an affordable, albeit diluted, slice of this tiny heritage store to a new and younger audience.