Pitti Predicts:
Fantastic Classic
Edition 101
Pitti Predicts is your connection to Instagram archivist Samutaro who’s here to talk you through Pitti 101’s main themes and the future trends you need on your radar.

When discussing the state of modern menswear, the conversation often turns to the question of where suiting is heading. What is its place in today's working wardrobe? How is it evolving? Is it still relevant at all? At a time when most people in “white-collar” jobs are working from home, a loosening of dress codes in society, and demand for comfort at an all-time high, it has forced us to question whether tailoring is even suited to the new era.  

You only have to look at news headlines to acknowledge the suit slump in the sartorial sector and how the fate of formal fashion is hanging by a thread. Back in 2016, JPMorgan Chase & Co. announced that its employees were no longer required to wear suits, while more recently European and the United States retail chains specializing in business attire such as Men’s Wearhouse, Brooks Brothers, and T.M. Lewin have closed stores or filed for bankruptcy.
The shelter-in-place precautions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic have only further contributed to tailoring’s inevitable demise over the past year. With a newfound love of sweatpants, a trend that some experts expect to outlive the pandemic, and few, if any, weddings or parties taking place, it is no surprise that suits have stagnated while athleisure explodes.
But although the outlook of formalwear looks somewhat bleak, there have been glimmers of hope that prove that the suit is anything but dead. The past couple of seasons on the catwalk have proved a surprisingly punchy moment for formal fashion with plenty of brands offering modernist takes on the suit, which take influence from streetwear and performance sportswear.
Finding the right formula to convince new generations to embrace these sartorial uniforms is the biggest challenge of today's industry, but designers like Virgil Abloh, Kim Jones, and Samuel Ross of A-Cold-Wall* have found the right language. Abloh’s past collections at Louis Vuitton have made a strong case for tailoring as a symbol of a convention to be renewed. “The suit – a man’s mundane corporate uniform – is de- and recoded into a symbol of craft and creativity,” read a paragraph of his recent show notes.

Given Abloh has spent most of his career teaching the world that graphic hoodies could be luxury items, it's interesting to see how he’s now using tailoring as a way to articulate something totally novel in the longstanding space between streetwear and suiting. Whether he’s serving up augmented cuts, novel colors, or unexpected fabrics (think the LV² jacquard denim suits created in collaboration with Nigo) Abloh’s sartorial approach comes from a place of tailored ease. Perhaps this is what he meant when he told Dazed “streetwear is definitely going to die.”

Another leading figure who has been reprogramming the traditional dress codes in menswear is Fear of God founder, Jerry Lorenzo. Much like his Abloh and his other contemporaries, Lorenzo helped shape the streetwear generation with his grunge-infused T-shirts, sweatshirts, flannels, and tank tops in exaggerated vertical proportions. But his most recent collection has presented something entirely different. Two years in the making, the LA brand's 7th collection is rooted in easy elegance, with relaxed suiting, luxe sportswear, and hand-knit loungewear in muted earthy tones. For Lorenzo, the shift toward tailoring and more “grown-up” clothing is about offering “something sophisticated for everyday reality.” His capsule collection with Italian luxury label Zegna, which was released in March, further supported this new direction with deconstructed tailoring and polished sportswear that has got you covered with maximal style and comfort whether you’re at a party or on a plane.

“I think between what’s happening culturally in fashion and what’s happening in tailoring, there’s a huge disconnect,” Lorenzo told Vogue. “I think my customer and I see tailoring as intimidating, so how do we make tailoring less intimidating? How do we make suiting and tailoring feel like a hoodie and a pair of sweatpants, something that you can slide into easily and something that fits comfortably with you and something that allows you to be appropriate for all occasions?”
It’s this easy approach to tailoring that is helping the pendulum in men's fashion— recently dominated by pervasive informality— swing back toward something more dressed up, or at least more tailored. Even through the pandemic, Lorenzo’s sartorial vision hasn’t been deterred, in part because his innovation was to remove “some of those elements that make those pieces intimidating,” as he put it, and make them “comfortable and effortless.”
It may seem ironic that two (three when you count Nigo’s) of the defining voices in streetwear are pushing tailoring back into the fore, but for them, it is less about enticing young customers to buy into an image and more about answering new questions about how men get dressed. “The overarching vision is father to son,” Abloh told Vogue of his interest in tailoring at Vuitton. “So, having a portion of more mature pieces with youthful pieces.”

This sartorial shift hasn’t gone unnoticed on the street. In Paris, London, and on the cobbled courtyard of Pitti, the suits that men are wearing aren’t all that formal and perhaps not even made to measure, either. Instead, they’re often less structured than a standard suit, sacrificing stuffy traditional silhouettes in favor of baggy ones. “An increasingly casual approach to tailoring and occasionwear means brands aren't shying away from looser fits, fluid fabrics that crease and drape, or taking the starch out of dressing smartly,” explains WGSN senior menswear editor Nick Paget.
Much of this formal fashion revolution has been reflected in the edit of brands at Pitti Uomo’s “Fantastic Classic” for its upcoming FW22 show in January. Showcasing the best of British elegance and Italian excellence, the area presents a selection of established and emerging brands that are reprogramming traditional tailoring codes with new details and combinations. From the unconventional designs of Manuel Ritz to the technical outerwear of PEOPLE OF SHIBUYA or the fine tailoring of wool connoisseurs Stapf, this curation caters to the contemporary man who looks beyond tradition while maintaining a desire for an elevated wardrobe.
So where does the suit stand as we round out 2021 and what can we learn? If this strange year has taught us anything it's that tailoring does not need to be stuffy or uncomfortable, restrictive or conservative. Instead, as we bounce back into some kind of new normality, the suit offers men an opportunity to switch out sweatpants and loungewear with smarter pieces that will literally add structure back into their lives. Of course, we won't want to compromise the ease that we've become accustomed to, and this new, softer tailoring mood checks all the boxes of how we want to look right now: cool, comfortable, and unfussy.

Words Samutaro
Pictures Julien Tell