The Italians are generally regarded as leading the way in sharp suiting, with Britain’s suave signature style a close second, but the tide is turning in tailoring, with Holland’s very own Suitsupply leading the way in the made-to-measure revival.
A good suit never goes out of style, and whether it’s a classic double-breasted blazer, a sophisticated dinner jacket or a more contemporary two-button sports coat, tailoring truly is the most important part of a man’s wardrobe. Once the signature of the super-wealthy, a made-to-measure suit is the secret of looking well dressed. While seasonal off-the-peg suits can, at best, last a few years, encompassing passing trends as they come and – inevitably – go, a suit that is expertly made for your measurements is a real investment in style.
While the fashion houses and bespoke tailors lining London’s Savile Row and Milan’s Via Montenapoleone have catered to the most discerning clients, offering bespoke and made-to-measure services to generations of the best-dressed men, there’s something of a made-to-measure revolution occurring. The driving force is Suitsupply, founded in 2000 by 27-year-old Amsterdam native Fokke de Jong, who had already hosted numerous ‘tailoring parties’ during his time at university. Now CEO, de Jong plays an integral part in the Suitsupply machine, and is leading the way in expanding the brand across Europe, the USA – living out his personal mantra of ‘creating the best fit without fitting in’.
What Suitsupply is doing is just that – a made-to-measure service, but on a large scale, bringing bespoke to the masses. Using a combination of the finest fabrics, European styling and expert in-store tailoring services, the company is opening the doors to custom-made outfitting for an increasing number of young men across the globe who are seeking to add their own style to traditional tailoring.
‘Tailoring always feels very established. We have a more unsystematic approach to it,’ explains de Jong. This is illustrated not only by Suitsupply’s collections, but its unconventional choice of locations. ‘We are hardly ever in among all the other fashion brands,’ says de Jong. ‘We convert interesting big spaces such as an old church, a penthouse office or a big Soho loft into a comfortable and relaxed environment.
‘We are there for people who want to create their own space – not just to fit in, but to find their own fit,’ says de Jong. ‘We want to relate to our customers in a natural way and combine product knowledge with personality to create top-notch service.’
Classic Italian tailoring
The company prides itself on combining sartorial flair and creativity with craftsmanship and the latest technology to deliver outstanding results, quickly and effectively. It offers a huge array of in-store ‘while you wait’ tailoring alterations, while a fully bespoke suit can be with the customer in as little as five weeks from the first consultation with a Suitsupply specialist.
For the upcoming autumn/winter 2014/15 collection, Suitsupply’s head designer Murray Coetzee and his team looked to the past for inspiration, combing the archives of some of Italy’s finest fabric producers. ‘Everything we do is through the lens of classic Italian tailoring,’ says Coetzee, ‘but our time in the archives has led to a collection that is truly next level.’
Patterns range from subtle checks to bold windowpanes and classic houndstooth, emblazoned across suits, coats, shirts, ties and socks; an incredibly elegant double-breasted overcoat is one of the collection’s many standouts.
Texture is also important for autumn/winter 2014/15, with fabrics from luxurious cashmere blends to hardy tweeds. Meanwhile, variations on traditional blues anchor the collection, ranging from bold Neapolitan to deep navy, with accents that run the gamut from rich shades of burnt orange to ochre, oxblood and forest green.
‘With their innovative use of heritage fabrics, Coetzee and his team have set a new bar with this collection,’ says de Jong. ‘It’s about seeing the past through a modern lens, which is our signature approach to fashion.’
‘We designed these clothes for the contemporary guy who’s serious about style, but likes to have fun with it, too,’ explains Coetzee. ‘With so many classically inspired, complementary fabrics to choose from, we’ve given him everything he needs to make his own unique statement this season.’
What’s clear from Suitsupply’s success is that made-to-measure has evolved from a signature of the traditional gentlemen’s wardrobe into a staple for the modern man who can not only benefit from a perfectly cut suit, but also have his choice of fabrics and finishing – ensuring his suit fits his style as well as his measurements.