Suit makers say there will be a ‘desire to dress up’ after latest Covid lockdown in England
Last week, the designer Jil Sander told the New York Times that it was time to finally ditch sweatpants because “down-dressing is a drainer”.
A harbinger of a certain shift in mood, Sander has captured a moment in which, with lockdown soon to give way to a new tiered system of restrictions in England, we are ready to get dressed again.
“I genuinely feel that post-lockdown there will be a reaction to how we have all been dressing recently,” says Sean Dixon, the managing director of the bespoke tailors Richard James, which has dressed Prince William and Liam Gallagher. “I believe there will be an outpouring of expression, a desire to ‘dress up’.”
His words might feel optimistic: this year, the men’s suit companies Tailored Brands – which owned Men’s Wearhouse among others – J Crew and Brooks Brothers were all casualties of the pandemic. But with the glimmer of a vaccine in the distance, the days of comfort dressing could soon be numbered.
“I love a good pair of sweatpants as much as the next person, but yes I do believe the surge of preppy comes from a longing to look a bit more proper and dapper,” says Christopher Bastin, the global artistic director of Gant, which was influential in creating the Ivy League look. “It’s been dark times for a while now. Preppy, with its colourful, whimsical approach to style, feels like a relief,” he says. “It’s OK to be happy again [and] dress accordingly.”
At a time when elasticated waist bands have grown in popularity, the rise of items such as cardigans and tank tops suggested a yearning for more formality. Similarly a fortnight ago, sales of Gap khaki trousers increased by 90% online after MSNBC’s Steve Kornacki wore a pair during his US election coverage.