‘How a suit is worn and styled has evolved a lot over the last few years,’ says Sunspel creative director David Telfer. ‘There is more freedom in how a blazer is worn. The suit used to be a part of a separate “work” wardrobe but it’s now a more integral part of the everyday wardrobe.’
Telfer certainly knows a thing or two about the everyday wardrobe. He has only been at the Derbyshire company for eight of its 143 years in business, but in that time he has helped turn the brand from the best place to buy superior essentials, to one of the most interesting, reliably stylish names in UK fashion (while, of course, making sure it remains the best place to buy superior essentials).
Building on its solid foundation of sweats, polo shirts, boxer shorts etc., Sunspel has gradually broadened its offering to include footwear, activewear and even fragrance. But the real masterstroke has been its exploration of collaboration. There have been partnerships with artists (David Shrigley, Charlotte Gosch and more), industry heavyweights (a recent eight-piece collection with Mr Porter) and leading lights of the British tailoring scene like Casely-Hayford, which partnered on a tailoring capsule 18 months ago, and returns this winter for another bite of the cherry.
‘The first collaboration worked so well because we have shared values of quality and of creating timeless, contemporary products, so the pieces resonated with both brands’ customers,’ Telfer explains. ‘For collaborations you also need to push aspects of each brand to bring something new to the product. It’s been great to see our refined fabrics reworked in Casely-Hayford’s more directional silhouettes and with detailing that gives a more modern feel to tailoring.’
The first partnership resulted in an extremely easy-going take on a two-piece suit, cut from soft, slouchy jersey, unstructured, with boxy proportions as per the Casely-Hayford house style. This season’s capsule takes a similar premise and updates it, using sumptuously textural Italian boiled wool jersey, and expanding the offering to feature a three-piece suit, a cropped jacket, and a coat, with the five pieces designed to be mixed and matched in a modular format.
‘This collaboration builds on the previous one,’ says Charlie Casely-Hayford, who founded the eponymous brand in 2009 with his late father, Joe, the former creative director of Gieves & Hawkes. ‘We wanted to get to a place where it doesn’t feel at all like suiting. It’s designed to be part of your everyday wardrobe, to work in harmony with your T-shirts and knits, though it can move seamlessly into a more formal world too.
‘This is a very versatile suit and it works well worn individually or when paired together as a full look,’ continues Telfer, who says it would look just as good with one of Sunspel’s T-shirts or knits as it would dressed-up with a collared shirt. ‘Part of the charm of this collection is that, from a distance, the product looks great but the closer you get, the more you notice the character of the fabric and raw cut detailing. You realise how special the pieces are both individually and when paired together.’
Both Sunspel and Casely-Hayford have stores on London’s Chiltern Street, which has fast become one of the city’s foremost menswear addresses. But unlike the formality of Savile Row, its residents – and capsule collections such as this – demonstrate how our sartorial shopping habits have evolved since the pandemic. The likes of Bryceland’s, Trunk Clothiers and the recently arrived outpost of The Workers Club, demonstrate that we have a new way of looking at the clothes we buy. Formal, casual, comfortable, flattering… all as important as ever, but now we want things that can offer them all in one.