While moving between the stands at Florence’s Pitti Uomo menswear fair this January, I came upon an item of serious stylistic significance. Not a new design or collection, but something worn by an exhibitor – shoe designer Louis Leeman. The tall Dutchman always cuts a dash, and this time it was his muted cinnamon suede sports jacket that caught my eye. It dates back to 2004, when Tom Ford was creative director at Gucci, and Leeman captured a mid-1970s mood by teaming it with a chocolate-brown poloneck, black trousers and his own brand’s tobacco suede boots (£620) with a small Cuban heel. The tonal colour scheme was elegant, but it was the tailored cut of the jacket that really made the outfit. “I like it because of its classic lines – it’s long but comes in nicely at the waist,” Leeman told me, adding that he also wears it with a faded denim shirt and white jeans. He’s keeping his eyes open for a black leather version, but if it proves elusive he has a good chance of finding an equally covetable leather jacket among this season’s outstanding offerings, which reflect the ongoing trend for soft, relaxed tailoring.
Polo Ralph Lauren, for example, has created a gorgeous russet suede version of last season’s indigo denim signature fitted three-piece. The light, slim jacket (£1,735) can be bought separately from the trousers (£795) and waistcoat (£495) and worn casually with jeans, teamed with a denim shirt. Polo also has a rugged hacking jacket (£1,735) in olive suede, with a distinctive tab collar fastening and bellows pockets. This would look good with a thick knitted rib rollneck.
Kiton’s tailored leather jacket (£6,700) has a particularly rich lustre – entrefino lamb hide is drum-dyed with pure aniline colourings, then over-dyed for a slightly worn effect. Trussardi also uses Italian hide for its soft, dark brown nappa leather blazer (about £1,500), which teams as well with a smart collared shirt and tie as with knitwear or the brand’s patterned silk shirts.
So much of the appeal of these jackets is in their feel and texture. Berluti’s handsome double-breasted lambskin jacket (£3,860), with a soft-sheen finish and a seductive handle, has large lapels and internal layered‑pocket detailing. The full-grain lambskin suede used by Ermenegildo Zegna for its unlined smoke-grey blazer (£3,610) with patch pockets and a raw‑cut edge-seam detail has such a luscious nape that it feels like shaved mink.
Slightly more formal tailored leather and suede comes from Roberto Cavalli, as Peter Dundas returns to the house. Having worked for Pucci and Lacroix, Dundas is a known talent with colour and pattern. His homecoming menswear collection is distinctly 1970s themed and the strongest piece for me is a burgundy peccary suede boating blazer (£1,795) with clipped lapels and patch pockets trimmed in black leather. More elaborate multicoloured, panelled varieties (£9,385), cut on the diagonal, are effectively leather evening jackets; a whole new genre, and one Bugatti has also embraced by combining soft black lambskin (€2,400) with fine handmade cuts across its surface, creating an iridescent effect, with jauntily cut silk-grosgrain peak lapels. Dior works an edgier evening mood in black washed calfskin (£2,900), which has the appearance of dense satin, with skinny lapels and fitted tailoring.
Over at Emporio Armani, a simple bonded nappa jacket (£1,400) with press-stud fastenings, streamlined narrow-peak lapels and piped side pockets has a Blade Runner quality, as has Giorgio Armani’s black craquelure lambskin nappa leather jacket (£3,050) with its silver nylon interlining that fastens on the outside of the jacket. Craquelure is an effect I’ve never seen before, giving a heavily grained texture with a silky sheen.
By contrast Kilgour stays true to its clean, uncluttered ethos. Its midnight-blue perforated lambskin suede blazer (£2,700) with a discreet, well-balanced lapel is an exercise in restrained proportions. Half-lined, it’s very light and feels as comfortable as sportswear, but without losing the elegance of Savile Row tailoring.