What is the new era of the suit? Sunspel asks celebrity stylist Gareth Scourfield
As we enter a new era of the suit, Gareth Scourfield, stylist to the likes of Daniel Craig and Chiwetel Ejiofor, teams up with Sunspel to showcase the brand-new Casual Tailoring edit, which introduces unstructured pieces for work and play.
The history of the suit is an incredibly broad subject, traversing myriad countries, cultures, centuries and trends. But if you’re wanting a concise yet brief lesson in the evolution of the suit, stylist to the stars Gareth Scourfield is the man to ask. Scourfield is a well-known stylist and creative consultant, who has dressed everyone from Sir Ian McKellen to John Krasinski; Daniel Craig to Chiwetel Ejiofor. Most recently his sartorial skills were applied to actor Ben Whishaw and doctor-turned-bestselling author Adam Kay for a The Sunday Times Magazine cover story.
Away from the red carpet and glossy magazines, Scourfield was asked by Sunspel to consider the new era of the suit in the context of styling its brand-new Casual Tailoring edit – a curated collection of smart yet eminently wearable menswear pieces.
‘There’s a lot more nuance to the suit than there ever has been,’ Scourfield explains. ‘Going through the timeline of the suit, there are obvious periods of what the suit looked like. Now we're at a point where we've come through so many decades and so many variations. It was quite pared back in the 1940s because they were living through austerity and then it would flare up again because it was showing a kind of exuberance. In the ’60s it went very rebellious with the Mods and The Beatles, and the suit became a symbol of rock‘n’roll. Then it got to the ’80s where it was associated with City workers and it became the power suit. Now we're coming out of a pandemic, where the suit has almost been archived for two years. So, what does it look like now?’
The answer isn’t clear-cut but, based on recent shopping habits and the increasingly blurred lines between work and home life, consumers and designers are at a unique crossroads in the evolution of the garment.
‘The next 12 months will be the pandemic era of tailoring,’ Scourfield muses, ‘and what comes out of it, I think, is going to be very pared back. It can still be super luxurious but I think it will be more comfortable and unstructured.’
Prioritising comfort needn’t mean compromising on style, and the way clothing feels and how it performs has never been more prevalent.
‘I think brands and designers are looking at the suit and adapting it for the way that we all live and work now; right from the cuts to the fabrications. Those who have succeeded – and Sunspel is one of them – produce timeless, seasonless collections. You can scale back for the warmer months and layer up for the colder winter months, but essentially you're working with the same sorts of collection.’
Buying clothing that transcends seasons leans into a growing desire to be more sustainable and, as Scourfield puts it, to ‘get more use out of your wardrobe’. So, quality and durable materials are essential. From Sunspel’s new collection, Scourfield highlights a jersey blazer and a navy ‘travel wool’ jacket, which could be worn throughout the seasons. Overall, the colour palette of the new range is typically neutral so that it can be interwoven with existing items in your wardrobe or offset by a pop of colour or unexpected accessory. The new jackets are soft and unstructured, feeling more akin to a cardigan than traditional tailoring while retaining the look of a blazer.
‘It's those little details that take some of that more relaxed clothing you associate with tracksuits and sweatpants into more tailored pieces,’ says Scourfield. Smart knitwear, polo shirts and cardigans also fall under the Casual Tailoring edit as more contemporary work-wear essentials, with the idea that they can be paired with more formal or casual items depending on the occasion.
‘Casual tailoring is as much about the fabric as anything else,’ says Scourfield. ‘The fabrics are lighter and the trousers have hidden elastic for comfort, but they’re still tailored. So you can put on a jacket that feels more like a cardigan, sit in front of a screen or travel to the office and still feel dressed for work. Psychologically, I think you need that because you feel more professional. I think Sunspel has been very clever in that what it’s offering is considered and tailored, but it’s within that parameter of the comfort zone.’
In an age where, sartorially speaking, we’ve never been more spoiled for choice, comfort and familiarity remain paramount.
‘Men love going back to somewhere where they know what they’re going to find,’ Scourfield admits. ‘It shows the strength of a brand when it’s focused on what it does and it does it well. Sunspel has absolutely incorporated new technologies into its fabrics but there’s that consistency and familiarity that guys love. It filters in new things as and when, and this new smart-casual tailoring line is part of that. It doesn’t feel like it’s been forced or that it doesn’t connect with the rest of the collection. That's why I loved working with it, it feels like it’s been here for years.’