Sunday 23 October 2016

The higher man - it's all about bespoke and luxury sportswear

Published 11/04/2016 | 02:30

Suit, €935, Ermenegildo Zegna; shirt, €140, Eton; shoes, €540, Crockett & Jones; belt, €130, Canali.
Suit, €935, Ermenegildo Zegna; shirt, €140, Eton; shoes, €540, Crockett & Jones; belt, €130, Canali.

Be it men's or women's, it's all the same: fashion reflects life force and interest in life. Young men dress vibrantly because they feel their potency like it's a physical thing. A man who is a bit of a peacock is a good thing - he is up with and enjoying life. He feels powerful.

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I often pop into Brown Thomas's menswear department to get a handle on how men, via their clothing, are feeling. Recently, as I wandered the departments - suiting, casual, outerwear, swimwear, shoes - I bumped into a young man coming from the suit rooms, looking very sharp in what had to be a bespoke suit and shirt.

I noticed several men forensically examining the Tom Ford, Prada and Saint Laurent rails, and quite a few were in casual wear, checking out Kenzo and McQueen, Belstaff, and new cult label Ami. All ages, including a much older man, were perusing Brown Thomas's extensive men's trainer collection, which goes from Valentino to adidas. It seemed to me that no man was playing to type, and age was just a number.

"Menswear is all about fit," Paul O'Connor, Brown Thomas buying director, tells me as we wander the store's warm-toned, marble-finished, menswear rooms. "Where we have seen big change is bespoke; guys are looking for more made-to-measure. For him, it is about getting something special, that is unique to him."

According to Paul, bespoke is not just born of the need for a tailor-made garment, it is something that men of all ages, young and old, are choosing for themselves, as a way of individualising their look. Also, good fit has become a challenge for men who are working out more; in creating broader shoulders and muscular legs, ready-to-wear doesn't fit.

"Bespoke before was about the guy needing a bigger jacket, or longer sleeves. It was about necessity. Now, bespoke means wearing something that is original, that has the fit and details you prefer. It is individual, unique to each guy. Once the guy has experienced bespoke once, he won't go back because it fits him perfectly. Guys are loyal to a brand, to the fit, and that is why they keep coming back," Paul says.

Such is the popularity of bespoke in Brown Thomas, that twice a year, the master tailors from Canali, Zegna, Truzzi, Corneliani and Eton shirts visit Brown Thomas for several days of appointments. Regular customers from Brown Thomas are contacted directly, but it isn't limited to them; anyone can avail of the service.

"Apart from bespoke, the other key trend is luxury sportswear," Paul tells me. "It's about luxury fabrics, quality and fit. The jeans, the sweatshirts and shirts all feel good to the touch and are comfortable to wear."

Neutrals, such as grey and taupe, are key this season, as are white and navy. Check, finally, is not so apparent, while pinstripe is making a subtle return. It all shows that the Irish male life-force is focussed - and enjoying himself.

Photography by  Alex Hutchinson

Styling by   Courtney Smith

Fashion edited by  Constance Harris

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