Tailor's Note: February 2023 - Casual Tailoring
These notes are based off conversations with customers and are designed to help make the process of working with a tailor a little more familiar.
Disclaimer: These ideas are based solely on my opinion, please feel free to ignore, flout and disobey at every opportunity.
February has been an interesting month. Last year it was filled with wedding parties looking for blues in all textures from cotton to wool, linen to velvet.
This year, February has been far less formal. Not lockdown levels of casualness but definitely not quite as Gatsby-esque as some fashion writers were predicting.
Over the last 4 weeks K&C has seen an influx of orders for shirts, trousers and bomber jackets. What this suggests to me is that there is an increasing demand for the clothes we wear to fit properly, be it a suit or a t-shirt.
I think it is a universal truth that offices are growing ever more casual and that we are spending less time in them than ever before. Therefore it is logical that we begin to diversify our wardrobes accordingly.
In the past the average adult may have had a work wardrobe and a weekend wardrobe. The work wardrobe would typically be tidier, more carefully put together; designed to give the wearer confidence in a presentation, gravitas in a meeting; while a weekend wardrobe may comprise more hardy, activewear, required to survive bike rides, dog walks, trips to (and from) the pub.
As those 2 categories merge, there becomes more impetus on the workwear to be tough and the weekend-wear to be tidy.
Then throw in the fact that the last few years have made us much more discerning about our spending. According to an Ernst & Young study in 2021, post-covid consumers “want to make consumption choices that are born from aspiration rather than necessity”
What you are left with is a customer who demands more from their clothes. As well they should.
Buying cheap jeans has never made sense to me. For most people they are the most worn garments in their wardrobe, so why would they not be what you invest the most into? I think that is what K&C is seeing at the moment. Our customers are investing in what they wear the most. If you are going to wear a shirt to work, why not make sure it fits perfectly, that it is the length you want it, that the collar actually fits. Why should you settle for trousers which are sort of ok as long as you wear a belt and do a little wiggle every time you stand up. Why not have a bomber jacket in the colour you really want, not the one decided for you by someone you've never met.
Before Ready-to-Wear clothing became widespread in 20th century, having clothing made for you was a necessity not a luxury. One might have fewer items, which would likely be passed down between siblings but they would be adjusted to the new owner’s measurements, with trousers shortened or lengthened accordingly, dresses taken in, shirt sleeves tweaked. As fast fashion’s insidious grip tightened, we stopped requiring our clothes to fit us.
I am extremely optimistic that the rise K&C is seeing in custom chinos, flannels, light jackets and shirts is a sign that we are returning to the days of fit-first dressing.