Boss Is Bringing Back The Suit, And That's A Good Thing
If you’ve been following much of what’s been going on in the world of menswear over the past few months, you’ll most likely be aware of at least two things. The first? You can’t read a magazine, blog or website (this one included) without stumbling on the words "Kim", "Jones", "Virgil" and "Abloh" at least three times per paragraph. The second? Suits are making a comeback.
That is to say, they’re returning to the world’s runways. And although that might sound like something of a fait accompli – if a trend is making regular appearances in Milan, Paris and New York, it automatically means that regular blokes will sit up and take notice – the reality is that it takes time for shifts at the upper echelons of fashionland to filter down into the way we shop day to day.
The major retailers, after all, are selling fewer suits than ever before and it’s in part down to the changing landscape of our collective working environments (the gig economy and, with it, a proliferation of kitchen-table offices, has resulted in less demand for tailoring) and in part a craving for comfort – a burning, common desire to put on a pair of track pants and pretend the world isn’t burning around our ears. The suggestion, therefore, that a couple of luxury fashion brands showing a few extra suits is going to change that overnight is, well, a bit silly.
However, on a brisk day in New York, the world’s menswear press and buyers got the first real sense that suits are in fact on the brink of making a meaningful comeback, as premium German brand Boss showed a collection devoid of sneakers, joggers and sweatshirts, opting instead for a collection fit to bursting instead with tailored jackets, beautifully tailored separates and superlative suiting: an arrow of intent aimed directly at the beating heart of modern men’s wardrobes.
But why is this decision to shun athleisure so significant? Although Boss was, up until recently, best known for providing the great and the good with serviceable and elegant tailoring pieces, in recent seasons the label has veered away from the suits it knows best in favour of the sportswear demanded by the masses. For the AW19 show, however, Boss – a brand arguably more reliant on and in tune with real, everyday shoppers than many of the more haute luxury labels which show in Paris or Milan – decided to take things back to its tailoring roots.
Organised with Teutonic precision into tonal colour-block sections, the collection – designed by Boss chief brand officer Ingo Wilts - was a sotto voce symphony of immaculately cut double-breasted suits, elegant, shaved-shearling overcoats and pin-sharp separates all, notably, worn with ultra-smart Derby shoes. The look was grown-up, sophisticated and – dare I say it – classically masculine. These were proper clothes that imbued the models wearing them with a kind of paternal accessibility – both elegant and comforting all at once.
”I always think that our heritage is tailoring and we really truly have to stay with it,” Wilts told me after the show. “Sure, the sports element is important right now, but we have to elevate everything back to tailoring. I purposely didn’t show any sneakers. Sporty, for me, doesn’t just mean sneakers and track pants - you can have beautiful tailored pants but then with a sportswear jacket. This is the idea of elevating the brand back towards the heritage.”
Long may it last.