Earthy-hued tailoring has traditionally been seen as non-conformist. I’m thinking of the peaty-brown, bronze and rust suiting favoured by Miles Davis, Malcolm X and the Mods in the 1960s, or the brown suits worn by cinematic anti-heroes like Dirty Harry and Frank Bullitt – which seem to underline their renegade characters. Personally, I’ve always liked tobacco, bronze or mocha suits. They allow me to wear the tailored looks I love without seeming too straight down the line. I particularly like Burberry Prorsum’s super-slim caramel mohair jacket (£995) and trousers (£495) and bitter-chocolate slim, light silk/satin half‑canvassed jacket (£1,050), but the choice this season is superb.
James Bond is another rule breaker, and I was struck by the suit Daniel Craig wore in Spectre when Bond and Madeleine Swann (Léa Seydoux) were deposited at a run-down station near bad guy Oberhauser’s Moroccan base. Swann’s floaty off-white chiffon top and cream trousers perfectly offset Bond’s café au lait silk/wool/linen deconstructed jacket (£2,210) and neat cotton chinos (£340) – by Brunello Cucinelli – paired with a white shirt and unusually short tie. The smartly cut earthy colour scheme looked refreshingly crisp in the hot climate.
The synergy of sunshine and earth tones goes a long way to explain why Cucinelli and his fellow Italians are the leading protagonists of this trend. Italians aren’t known for rebelliousness of style, but they have no hesitation in wearing strong or unusual colours. Cucinelli develops the theme with a subtle check tawny linen/silk/wool jacket (£1,170) and cinnamon tailored double-breasted coat in silk/cotton (£1,290), while Boglioli’s collection – inspired by Brazil in the 1970s – includes a chocolate light wool double-breasted jacket (£700). MP Massimo Piombo’s unstructured jacket in copper/russet Dutch cotton (£654) is another notable piece – it can be paired with chocolate chinos (£155), but works just as well with faded denim. There’s more double-breasted earthy style at Ferragamo, where a russet wool jacket (£1,745) is matched with trousers (£325) with a narrow turn-up.
Other relaxed, casual pieces that have caught my eye include Hermès’ crisp dark-brick cotton poplin jacket with tapered waist (£1,418), and the “day silk” pieces in the new Ralph Lauren Purple Label collections; the rich double-breasted mocha silk gabardine Andrew suit (£3,495) was an absolute showstopper.
At Gieves & Hawkes, where jacquards and print designs were inspired by terracotta-painted floor tiles, patterned shirts were teamed with a burnt-orange wool/silk/linen jacket (£595), rust stripe T-shirt and chocolate chinos (£175). Former chief creative officer Jason Basmajian took his colours from Puerto Rico and Cuba: “We wanted a colourful, rich palette that moved away from the Mediterranean. I love the idea of cream and tobacco tones punctuated with a warm orange.” The rust linen/silk suit (£995) is also particularly striking: “There is something nostalgic and old school about a rust linen suit – it evokes long rum cocktails and lounging on a shaded veranda.” However, redheads like me will probably prefer the brand’s tactile cocoa linen/silk/cotton double-breasted jacket (£1,495) – it’s a cracker, especially when worn with stone chinos (£175), battered white jeans or wide, pleated lightweight trousers.
At Etro this colour palette manifests itself in many guises, from a shawl-collared russet leather jacket (£2,775) and trousers (£2,930) to knee-length coats in amber/tobacco silk (£1,515) or linen (£1,100) with matching trousers (£355). Paul Smith has also gone for longer-length jackets to show off earthy tones, and the collection mixes an oversized rust double-breasted jacket (£1,200) with rock ’n’ roll leather trousers (£1,610) and winkle-pickers (£320) – once again oozing rebellious attitude.