There is a discomfort I feel when I watch instagram posts of influencers I admire and follow when they continue to post images of suits and black tie and smart casual. I barely get a chance these days to don a suit and tie and I have instead been experimenting with athleisure and tailoring. It might sound odd but I have spent some time trying to work out if you can pair a tailored casual jacket with running tights - but not the tights you would suspect, and certainly not meggings. I am talking about those technical running pants by Nike, specifically the range of Phenom running tights which at times can be quite gregarious and one pair I found recently had a finish that on some angles and in certain light looked like faux leather. And what is more, between cutting silks and riding my electric bicycle, and because I swim on Bondi Beach in the morning, I find myself wearing sneakers in that kind of way that you'd expect a Californian to wear on David Letterman or some such late night television show.
It's not that I want to try to be "uber" or "progressive". Those words piss me off. I believe in classicism in menswear and there was a time not that long ago where I would seek out opportunities to wear a suit in the city with a bow tie and do it with great relish.
But my life has changed. As too, I envisage, the lifestyle of my customers. I spend the vast majority of my life chained to my Studio, either cutting silks or loading up stock or else working on a new design (and in fairness, a fair wack of time on my chesterfield watching Netflix series when it is quiet). And because of this I have no time nor need for high brow menswear. Which is why it is not surprising that my bow tie revenue has gone down and my face mask revenue up.
A ride (on my electric bicycle Cappucines - she's thirteen years old and still such a glamourpuss) into the city the other day to present myself for jury duty, I wore said outfit - I did not see a reason to dress up for court given the circumstances. At the Downing Centre I was greeted with security who took my temperature, pointed to a large board on what seemed like large easel and asked me whether I had been to any of the venues or places listed along with times and dates. Then I went through the security screening process. Most of the staff, most of the jury candidates, nearly all of the legals and some of the criminals were wearing face masks. It was surreal - as though I finally cottoned on to the reality of our foreseeable future.
What I wore to court was also something that to my mind would never have occurred to me in any other time. I am not that guy. I would have loved to have worn my grey birdseye suit and a more conservative tie. I would have liked to not take my bicycle either, but I didnt want to go into a car park or catch public transport. I didn't want to stop in a cafe. And I wanted to be agile and on the move and you feel far less likely to sprint in a suit.
So that's how I have come to try to pair athleisure with tailoring. Take a pair of sneakers, add some casual easy to wear pants in a technical fibre (my preference being Nike Phenom) and then add a loop back sweater and a sports jacket over the top and if you are feeling cold and a little adventurous, add a kerchief.
I know it's not for everyone. But I also know that we are in a time of change. Nobody is getting married right now (trust me, I do a lot of the wedding bow ties in Sydney and it's completely dead). Most of my doctors are doing far less elective surgery. Many of my bow tie enthusiasts that wear bow ties to work - have opted for a collared t shirt and jacket. In short, life as we knew it, is, for the moment, over.
So if you were used to wearing a suit and bow tie or if you enjoyed your evening wear, maybe it's time to be playful in a new genre under give the unusual set of times we are living in.