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Has the coronavirus killed formalwear?

By Don-Alvin Adegeest



On a visit to London City in pre-Covid times would be to arrive at one of the capital’s most bustling boroughs, full of well-dressed men and women amongst the tall glass buildings and historical monuments. By well-dressed we mean tailored wool suits, polished oxfords, crisp shirts, ties of varying widths and dapper overcoats.

Visit London City today and you will be met with quiet streets where pigeons outnumber people, suits nowhere to be seen.

A formalwear leader applies for CVA

Last month’s CVA of the UK’s largest formalwear retailer, Moss Bros, revealed the dire effect the pandemic has had on suiting and occasionwear. With events cancelled, offices closed and weddings postponed, Moss Bros, Savile Row and much of the formalwear industry has had to mitigate the impacts of the pandemic and help secure a future for its businesses.

For Moss Bros, which operates 128 retail stores and employs about 800 staff, the approval of the CVA would allow the retailer to “reset” its cost base and “emerge from the pandemic on a sure financial footing,” said ceo Brian Brick. But for the formalwear industry as a whole, what does the future hold?

In an op-ed in London’s City AM publication, Nick Wheeler OBE, founder of formalwear brand Charles Tyrwhitt, says the coronavirus has massively expedited the evolution in flexible working, and with it, expectations for what is acceptable professional attire.

Dress down Friday is every day

“For years, smart casual has been infiltrating more and more offices around the City. Dress-down Friday has fast morphed into dress-down-daily. Chinos, shirts and knitwear are rapidly replacing the trusty suit, shirt and tie for many professional men — even the more traditional bankers, brokers and lawyers who have steadfastly resisted change for so long.”

“Smart, professional clothes you can wear equally as comfortably in the boardroom as you can working from home on a video call in your bedroom. This is the future of men’s formal fashion. The timeless suit and formal shirt will make an important, but less regular outing as occasionwear, worn for the big pitch, the important interview, and at celebrations like weddings.”

Of course once the world starts turning again and businesses re-open their offices and events are back on the calendar, so too will the need for more professional attire be both required and welcomed.

For all the Zoom outfits we have worn over the past ten months, there is excitement to be able to dress up, to mark and respect occasions with a choice of clothes other than sweats and jeans, or as the Covid-adage reads: business on top, comfy on bottom. Many are looking forward to being well-dressed all over again.

Image via Pexels

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