Menswear’s material gains

Knockout new fabrics and undiscovered archive cloths are taking tailoring to another level, says Tom Stubbs

Dolce & Gabbana silk jacquard evening suit, from £2,800, made to order
Dolce & Gabbana silk jacquard evening suit, from £2,800, made to order

Three days before our main men’s catwalk show, we thought, ‘We’re not busy. What shall we do?’” joked Stefano Gabbana in June. The question led to the impromptu staging of Dolce & Gabbana’s private tailoring event, held in its Martini Bar in Milan. For a seasoned observer of a certain age such as myself, it was a style coup – a return to old-school, glamorous Dolce tailoring, with razor‑sharp silhouettes, exquisite detailing and, most significantly, a spectacular array of fabrics. 

From left: Zegna cashmere/silk herringbone jacket, £3,460, and matching trousers, £1,620. Kiton vicuña tuxedo, £25,000
From left: Zegna cashmere/silk herringbone jacket, £3,460, and matching trousers, £1,620. Kiton vicuña tuxedo, £25,000

There was the Prussian-blue silk floral jacquard evening suit (from £2,800), with hidden Lurex detailing on the facing, from Dolce’s made-to-order range; an opal wool/Lurex used for a plush, shimmering three-piece (from £2,500) with a shawl collar; a dusty-pink double-silk duchesse for another evening suit (from £2,500); and textured lamés and jacquards cut into lean, angular suits (from £2,800). It was the peacock end of men’s tailoring, executed with Sicilian panache.  

Advertisement

Pushing the boundaries of luxury fabrics has long been a mission at Kiton, and this season the house presents a tuxedo (£25,000) in a new vicuña. It’s astonishingly soft, but it’s the remarkable colours available that are the story here, thanks to Kiton’s extensive technical research into painting the hyperdelicate yarn. Ruby red is eye-catching, but it’s dusty sage green and mocha brown that stand out for me. Vicuña’s subtle lustre against a satin peak lapel makes the jackets particularly winning. The fact that the fabric is also weightless and as comfortable as a dressing gown is the final coup. 

Thom Sweeney wool coat, £4,860
Thom Sweeney wool coat, £4,860

Ermenegildo Zegna has created some extraordinary new fabrics for its Couture Collection at its own vast mill. An earth/oxblood cashmere/silk herringbone jacket (£3,460) is ideal worn as a cardie-cum‑blazer with jeans, though there are also matching trousers (£1,620). There is a fantastic herringbone suit (£3,750) in the same knitted fabric, with patterns drawn by hand adding another layer of artisanal exclusivity, while elegant jacquards include micro bouclés (jackets, £2,460, trousers, £1,620) in pale blue and grey.

Rubinacci cashmere tweed jacket, £4,700
Rubinacci cashmere tweed jacket, £4,700 | Image: Rubinacci

The tailoring duo behind Thom Sweeney are consummate fabric connoisseurs who are always aware of the latest innovations that could take menswear to another level. Luke Sweeney tells me they’ve currently got their eye on Loro Piana’s new high‑tenacity fabrics. “Zelander is Loro Piana’s water- and windproof storm system; this is the first time it has been used for suiting,” he says. “It’s weatherproof but also luxurious, with sublime texture and subtle tones. It is gorgeous made into suits [£4,800 for a bespoke two-piece] and fits beautifully.” It also has an appealing dry handle and comes in 30 colours. The duo’s other current favourite fabrics are a coat‑weight collection, used in a double-breasted coat (£4,860), from Neapolitan clothiers Caccioppoli. “They’re reintroduced archive cloths,” says Thom Whiddett. The tweed herringbones have a vintage look and one in particular, a wide herringbone that comes in six colours and weighs in at a substantial 580g, works well for tailored pieces. “The light grey is a showstopper as a double-breasted, belted coat [£3,580] with soft shoulders and exaggerated lapels,” he adds,  

Connolly wool tweed coat, £1,600
Connolly wool tweed coat, £1,600

At Rubinacci, its collection of more than 60,000 vintage cloths stocked between the Naples, Milan and London shops is now being used for tailoring (from £4,900 for a bespoke suit). An amazing black‑and-white Prince of Wales houndstooth check in wool/linen and previously only used for interiors has been cut for coats (from £5,000) to knockout effect, while a rare blue wool tweed looks striking as a country sports coat (from £3,900). “Not everybody wants vintage style,” says Luca Rubinacci, “but to some clients this fabric is like treasure or a rare painting.” Rubinacci is also using these fabrics for ready-to-wear items. Various checks and tweeds from the Naples “caveau”, as Rubinacci calls it, are available as off-the-peg jackets (£4,700). These winter‑weight fabrics have stood the test of time – and should continue to do so.

Advertisement

And finally, at luxury outfitters Connolly, a tweed with motoring comfort in mind has been produced in collaboration with Scottish mill Lovat. Connolly’s Isabel Ettedgui was thrilled by the look of Lovat’s archive fabrics, but found them too heavy and coarse. The new “driving tweed”, in a gorgeous traditional tobacco brown with a Bugatti-blue check, has some stretch to allow for more mobility at the wheel. The neat topcoat (£1,600) shows it off beautifully, but it’s the modernised four-pocket hacking jacket (£1,600) that I was most drawn to, with its vintage tilt and luscious handle.

Advertisement
Loading