Rolling out the cold-weather looks for menWant to be in fashion this fall and winter? Rewind your clock to London, circa 1969.
In the city, the look is dressed-for-success in the best pinstripe suits from the tailors of Saville Row. On weekends, hunting in the wild ― or looking like you might ― becomes the “it” thing to do, and to pull off the look, you’ll want a Prince of Wales check or tweed sport jacket.
Judging from the 2003 fall/winter men’s collections European and American designers have presented in Seoul, men’s style has become more luxurious and elegant, with a strong emphasis on classic masculinity.
Salvatore Ferragamo presented a collection of luxurious suits in traditionally opulent fabrics ― worsted wool, cashmere, tweed, alpaca and suede ― matched with jacquard ties and classic shoes. Dominating colors navy, grey and brown suggested British hunting season, and real horn buttons and blanket-like coats evoked a frosty November morning in an English country garden.
Burberry’s recent presentation revamped classic duffel coats, pea coats and trenchcoats for a sleek, youthful coat for commuters in the city.
Calvin Klein’s men’s collection, which has for years strictly adhered to an American minimalist silhouette ― simple and lean, without fancy details ― has gone more retro-classic, clearly reflecting the stylistic lead of its new Italian design director, Italo Zucchelli. Its luxury is expressed through shapely, lean cuts and opulent, dark hues ― deep purple, blue-black and charcoal grey ― in velvet, corduroy and leather. The collection looks more Eurochic than American-dandy.
In keeping with the bespoke movement in London, men’s brands from Italy, Ermenegildo Zegna and Brioni, endorse the personalized style for fall and winter.
Zegna suggests the Windsor look for the shirt, with wide collar and a wide, colorful (mostly orange and gold) tie with a larger knot, slightly twisted for an interesting appeal. One strong item is a black, grey and blue pinstripe suit with a finely dotted line in pink, white or off-white, which looks like chalk stripe from a distance. The jacket has a slightly relaxed look and a long, lean body, while pants are slim but not clingy.
For the casual weekend look, Ken Kress, the general manager of Ermenegildo Zegna Korea, said he opts for an ultralight and soft cashmere/cotton blend corduroy sport jacket in champagne beige, made from blended fabric in Zegna’s factory. What does he match it with? “A black turtleneck, of course,” he says.
Brioni, a relatively new Italian brand in Korea, has introduced a “country gentleman” line called “Metro City Look.” On weekends, the line’s earth-toned sport jackets can be casually matched with a casual shirt, polo shirt or cashmere knit.
Such style tends not to come cheap, of course. A customized suit from Zegna, for instance, can run 4 million won (about $3,000), compared to 300,000 won for a typical Korean ready-to-wear suit.
A symbol of Italy’s elite, making plans for Korea
For the unveiling of Brioni’s 2003 fall and winter collection in Seoul, Francesco Pesci, the brand’s director for the Asia-Pacific region, visited for a few days.
Mr. Pesci, a native of Rome, is now based in Milan and has been with Brioni since 1994, after working for Colgate. “Colgate and Brioni are different businesses, but my father had worked for Brioni for 38 years, so I know what’s going on in the company ― I can recognize a Brioni from afar,” Mr. Pesci says.
The IHT-JoongAng Daily spoke with Mr. Pesci after the fashion show held in the Mercedez-Benz showroom in southern Seoul.
What does “Brioni” mean?
It is the name of an island, which we Italians lost in World War I because we took the wrong side in the war. Before it was taken by Croatia, the island was a fashionable hangout spot where high-class Italians played polo. It was the symbol of exclusivity of Italy’s elite class. When the Brioni store opened in 1945, right after the war, the name paid tribute to Italy’s elite in the 1920’s and ’30s. The polo logo was used by Brioni for many years. When American designer Ralph Lauren wanted to use polo as its trademark in the ‘80s, they contacted us. We sold the logo to be exclusively used for Polo, but we still use the logo in the lining and buttons.
What have you observed while marketing Brioni outside Italy?
We have a strong American market. Apart from Neiman Marcus locations in the United States, the biggest market for us is Russia, where Brioni is the most recognized high-end tailor.
Brioni has been in Ginza in Tokyo since 1963, and men over the age of 50 there wear Brioni. It was the hardest market because Japan had such brand-conscious consumers. Here in Korea, we’re targeting younger men, and I’ve found that Korea was easier than Japan because Koreans appreciate high quality and can afford expensive items. Our store inside Galleria Department Store has sold $25,000 fur coats for men. At the moment, we want to see if we can have the space for sales and then plan a flagship store in two years.
Do men dress differently in different countries?
Each of the 30,000 customers we have around the world has his own cut and style. Real horn buttons in dark colors are used for formal jackets, but men in the Middle East like gold buttons only.
We have suggested a more relaxed fit to Asians because of their body proportion. The fabric tends to be a bit heavier in Korea because it’s colder in the winter.
What is the sign of a great suit?
The most important part of a well-made suit is the interlining made of canvas. The specially hand-made interlining will maintain the shape of the suit permanently. In our factory in Italy, there is no such thing as glue ― we never glue on the fabric, so the lapel is softly folded with volume, never laying flat.
There is a misconception about ironing a suit. Ironing will only flatten the fabric and make it shiny; steaming will swell the fiber and ruin the shape. When a suit is badly crinkled from traveling, you should hang the suit overnight and the suit will reshape on its own, looking fresh as if it had been ironed.
What about looking good on the weekend?
Many men look great in their suits for five working days, and they want to look equally distinguished on weekends by wearing casual clothes.
When people say “casual,” they often think of fashionable Gucci or Armani-style clothes or sportswear. But not every man has a perfectly fit and proportionate body and full hair to go with trendy suits, and sportswear tends to be too functional.
For that reason, Brioni has added a casual line. We don’t limit our brand to designs for particular sports, so men with style can freely choose what’s right for them.
by Ines Cho