We don’t often throw the word “liberation” around when we’re talking about suit jackets or blazers. The traditional men’s suit is designed to constrict and conform. It may not fit the modern definition of workwear as a menswear genre – your double knee pants or your chore coat – but nonetheless, the suit jacket is exactly what you wear to work.
Yes, believe it or not, there was a time when people wore suits to work. Most of my first job interviews of my career required me to rummage through H&M and pray I could find pants that didn’t make me look like a burlap sack overstuffed with Christmas presents. Traditional suiting can feel like an assault on the body unless you’re one of the lucky few who can afford bespoke tailoring. They are at the mercy of the rack and the need to conform to what the world at the time sees as the right fit for a suit.
When I first moved to LA from San Francisco in 2007, the suits were intentionally gauzy and inhospitable. The sharp, clean J. Crew Ludlow suit was the pinnacle of affordable masculine style. Scott Sternberg’s Band of Outsiders made suits that were slim fitting, short and preschooler in appearance. “Rushmore” core, if you will. I was too tall, too wide and too poor for it. But I soon found that I really didn’t need a suit in LA. For many Angelenos, a suit is a luxury item—something to wear at weddings, funerals, religious gatherings, and the occasional court appearance.
A full, regular suit makes you a lawyer, a financial bro, or one of the undertakers from the HBO show Six Feet Under. It’s not like there’s no work here. It is so that the work does not require peak lapels. Even agents don’t really wear suits since COVID-19 shifted so much of work from Hollywood to Zoom. That’s not to say Los Angeles is a tailor’s desert. Because the people who live here think of suits with a different ideal: unstructured, loose, progressive. Angelenos values things like al fresco lunches, convertibles and “when I say 8-ish, I mean 9” planning, so our suits must capture the spirit of western freedom that suits our perspective. That’s why the Armani suit is the unofficial Los Angeles suit.
Perhaps it’s the similarities between the Mediterranean climates of Italy and Los Angeles that have helped foster this unique connection. It’s not that Armani, a quintessentially Italian brand, isn’t popular in places like New York or Chicago; it is easy feels right here. Armani burst into cultural consciousness in 1980 thanks to the influence of the popular Richard Gere film American Gigolo. The muted colors, loose draping and effortless cool of the clothes captured the imagination of a culture ready to move away from the wilder aspects of the ’70s disco and punk aesthetic. It was the gateway drug of choice for the yuppie generation. The suit was more natural and hung on the body in a way that wasn’t as constricting as your usual American Brooks Brothers cut. The Armani jacket was a follower of the brand’s philosophy: wearing one is like putting on a second skin.
Armani’s glorious tailoring appealed to menswear fanatics who studied opinions on slits, darts and waist suppression. But what made Armani iconic to the average consumer was its connection to Hollywood. Armani – the brand and Giorgio Armani the man – spent years developing a relationship with celebrities. (The reopening of the Armani Beverly Hills store in March was a testament to this; it was a good excuse to celebrate Nicole Kidman ahead of the Academy Awards. The store is clean, modern, and stylish, just as Armani has always been. but it is also said to be a magnet for the rich and famous.)
During the ’80s and ’90s, the most common silhouette seen at film premieres in LA was a suit jacket or blazer, often Armani, casually paired with jeans and a button-down. This versatility lent itself to the red-carpet style of men of the time: more emphasis on comfort than the bold choices we see in celebrity styling today. Unstructured, draped suit jackets could convey sophistication without the limitations of the traditional suit. We see Armani’s influence across LA, but never more clearly than in the tailoring of Jerry Lorenzo’s Fear of God. Southern California cool is a staple of the brand, not only in the lavishly constructed sweatshirts, but also in the loose, comfortable suiting in tasteful neutral colors similar to those Armani blessed the world with in the 20th century.
To Armani’s credit, the brand has maintained its perspective throughout the decades. Tastes swayed to the slim-fitting suits of the 2000s, but rather than discarding its heritage and trying to catch up, Armani refined its perfect formula into the early 21st century. Today, Vintage Armani has become one of the most popular categories in the fast-growing resale market that relies on customers trying to turn their gently used grail over. Armani has capitalized on the nostalgia, but also the pandemic-era interest in roomy silhouettes that don’t require the wearer to hold their breath to fit.
The latest in the evolution of Armani’s iconic jacket is the Upton, a double-breasted, unlined piece with a striking stitching design that looks a bit herringbone from a distance. The peak lapels sit high on the jacket and the shoulders conform to the natural shape of your body. In many ways it’s a classic Armani piece – sophistication at its most understated.
It would be an exaggeration to say that Los Angeles is an understatement in almost every way. This is a big city, a diverse city, and a city far more unpretentious than its reputation. The working class, who don’t need tailoring, don’t see freedom when they see a suit. A suit can understandably represent oppression, the indifference of the privileged, or an unattainable standard. So how does a $2,400 suit jacket represent all of LA? Unfortunately it can’t. Nothing can represent the whole of such a complex place. Fashion designers can tell you they’ve “captured the spirit of LA,” but that’s a fantasy. Maybe you can bottle a piece of it, but never the whole. It just doesn’t fit in the bottle.
Armani resonates with LA because it’s not trying to “be LA,” it’s not backing down. It’s hard to get, just like the city itself. People come here and get lost in the urban sprawl, the endless concrete veins, the loneliness. Maybe they’re gone forever. Or maybe they’ll stick with it and find their own version of paradise. It is expensive. It’s not for everyone. It is for those who understand. Just like Armani.
But the brand is not resting on its laurels. What’s unique about the Upton is that it dispenses with the length that has become so popular with vintage pieces from the ’80s and ’90s. As a tall man with a, say, “big” butt, I appreciate the longer cuts of vintage jackets. The Upton also moves away from the flapless patch pockets that have been a staple of Armani tailoring for decades. The flapless bags became a popular place for both men and women to slip their hands into to add a mischievous flair to their outfits. I instinctively want to put my hands in these bags like I do with all my vintage pieces, but the bags just aren’t made for that.
One might resent Armani for doing things that are inconsistent with the youth market that is first discovering its archives on TikTok, but the brand is confident enough to play around and try new things. The old stuff will always be there, on sites like Grailed or eBay, or in your parents’ closets. Despite some changes to the formula, the Upton is a translation of Armani’s central aesthetic principle: that clothing shouldn’t be made for dress codes, boardrooms or corporate retreats, but for the way people really live. It’s the unofficial suit jacket of Los Angeles, because life is everything in this city.
Fashion trend: Armani jacket is made for Los Angeles
Source link Fashion trend: Armani jacket is made for Los Angeles