I’ve heard from a friend in the clothing business that Oxxford has introduced a new model. The suit features a slightly shorter point-to-point measurement (across the shoulders), and a narrowere lapel. I would also guess that it has a lower button stance. At least I hope it does, because the trousers now come with a flat front and… a lower rise. That means that they sit closer to your hipbones than to your natural waist.
I imagine that the shift towards a hipper look (no pun intended) is aimed at attracting a younger buyer. Mike Cohen, the youngest president they’ve had, may also be making clothes that he wants to wear — or should I say to be seen in? And the slimmer silhouette does auger well for the modern American male’s physique. We must not be as obese as the news insists.
Or do those of us who wear suits simply care more about the way we look and exercise accordingly? I’m certainly not the 29′ waist I was in high school and (early on in) college.
You used to be able to tell an Oxxford suit by the bellows pockets in the lining that allow the wearer to carry things in his pockets, mostly unnoticed. The jacket was a natural shoulder, and may have looked a bit “boxy” to some. There were also finished seams inside the quarter lined jacket (more expensive to do), a waistband on the trousers that was a combination of the Hollywood waist (no waistband) and the one you’re used to seeing. Finally, there were two belt loops at the right front crossed to form an “X,” a reference to the two X’s in Oxxford.
On my suits, I’ve noticed that the two loops remain, although they are side-by-side. Oxxford’s are arguably the best made ready-to-wear garments in the industry. Their styling was timeless, never too forward, nor too backward looking. My suits are incredibly comfortable, the waistband sits at my natural waist, the handwork in the jacket assures that the suit shapes itself to me the more I wear it. Hand-sewn silk thread stitches allow the jacket to move with me — naturally stretching and springing back into place.
With the foray into the world of fashion, I wonder what to think of the venerable Chicago firm. Are they hurting for business in this new and casual business landscape? I can’t believe it. The suits still aren’t cheap — not by a long shot. And they still are made in the US. Will the new model attract a new buyer? One who doesn’t mind wearing his trousers like a pair of jeans? (I can only hope the buttonstance has been lowered to hide the shirt that will poke out otherwise. And that’s just sort of sloppy looking in my book. The picture above makes it difficult to tell since the model is moving aside the front quarters by placing his hand in his pocket.)
I guess it all boils down to one question: is the classic suit at all relevent today? Or is this the beginning of the end as evidenced by a classic updating itself to appeal to people not used to dressing up or seeing themselves in clothing that fits properly?
I won’t relish a return to Thom Brown’s schooldays. But I might try a slimmer look. That is if I can slim down at all. In the meantime, I will celebrate anything that gets more young people into suits and ties. Maybe it will eventually drive their fathers into their tailors.