BACK TO THE FUTURE
It’s amazing what a year in the fashion wilderness can do for a man’s wardrobe but as we emerge from our hibernation, it seems there’s more than just a whiff of the 80s taking over the catwalks and high streets. Yorkshire’s top tailor James Michelsberg reveals how now is the time to embrace this new fashion revolution.
I can feel it in the air, like the crackle of electricity, a current of pent-up excitement that is sweeping our nation.
After 12 months of being closeted away in our homes, with only Microsoft Teams for company, fun and frolics are very much back on the agenda.
As a bespoke tailor and stalwart supporter of living life in style, I was delighted to be asked to share my thoughts on the sartorial landscape as we venture back into our cities for business and pleasure.
From a wardrobe and health perspective, the pandemic has, for many, been tragic.
Like a nuclear winter, smiley faced boxes of sweatpants and ‘athleisure’ wear, have darkened our doorsteps, reducing men of consequence, to the slovenly state of Dominic Cummings.
Technology stocks and cholesterol levels have soared, while style levels have hit rock bottom Men, who once proudly marched down Wellington Street in suit and tie, now shuffle like track-suited young offenders across kitchen floors.
But the rot is about to stop.
For too long we’ve been on the ropes, hammered down by miserable news, back-to-back zoom calls and deprived of the company of friends, colleagues and loved ones.
But now the masks are coming off, and like Rocky Balboa in the 15th round, we’re coming back fighting.
Our glasses will run red with Barolo, champagne corks fly through the air as restaurants, racetracks, bars and clubs, explode in an orgy of hedonistic longing and delight.
We’ll remember the joy of shared laughter, a firm handshake, and once again, begin to take pride in our appearance.
My return to work in April, was wonderful and with a backlog of weddings to cater for, I’ve never been busier. All around I can sense positivity oozing from the pores of my customers, who are planning their wardrobes for forthcoming social events.
Whilst the business suit is still of relevance within professional services, in line with client expectations, ill-conceived dress down policies, have placed the three piece suit on the endangered species list.
Men’s tailoring has been going down a more informal route for years, but that hasn’t stopped the aspiring dandy from flexing his muscles in the workplace.
The relaxed Italian spirit of ‘sprezzatura’ (considered carelessness) is prevalent in unstructured jackets, chambray and denim shirts with soft collars, bespoke chinos worn with loafers, or, even (steady on) a pair of sneakers.
Fashion is cyclical, a wheel that will continue to turn, trends coming and going like the passing tide of the sea.
For a while, my customers and I have embraced the funky lines of The Seventies, with designers like Tom Ford rocking jackets with wide peaked lapels, deep pocket flaps and roped shoulders, made up in corduroy, velvet and checked fabrics with bags of attitude.
Right now, there’s a sniff of The Eighties at Michelsberg Towers.
The super skinny trouser is fading fast, the cut less tapered, with pleats that hark back to the days of Crocket and Tubbs in Miami Vice, double breasted jackets worn open and loose, producing a silhouette that is far more spacious and relaxed.
It’s taking me back to my days at Mister Craig’s nightclub, spinning around the dancefloor to Prince and Duran Duran, in a cream oversized jacket with broad shoulders, and black crew-neck t-shirt.
The Eighties was a time of confidence and excess, a bold, bright, mash-up of contrasting styles, be it punk, preppy, hip pop, and city slicker.
Once again, like then, sportswear and the ‘casual’ look is having it’s day, but that doesn’t mean ‘formality’ is dead.
Far from it.
Like the 1920s, which saw the end of the First World War and decline of the Spanish Flu, there is a wave of optimism washing over our country.
Like those bright young things before us, we can’t wait to put on our glad rags and go out into the world and live for the moment.
An optimist through and through, I believe our High Streets will adapt to the Brave New World with aplomb, providing shopping experiences to customers that cannot be matched with a few clicks on a mobile phone or tablet.
As a bespoke tailor, my joy is being with people.
So long as humanity wants to be together in the real world, and not live life through a screen, then our wardrobes, minds and souls will continue to be a happier place.