Merino in all its glory is the dreamiest of all suiting cloth, its drape and sheer splendour is unmatched. But with it comes a seriousness and rigour, fit for an office or formal wear that mightn’t always feel appropriate.
The plant fibre cloths open up a fun oeuvre of suiting that can be a little more cheery, sportive, playful, even a little ramshackle and artfully disheveled, but still (after-all) an elegant suit.
A great thing about cloth made from cotton and linen is the way it handles colour. Cotton and linen suits carry sporty and rustic colours beautifully. The candid creasing and character of plant fibre cloths takes the sting out of bright colours that may seem garish in merino. They also marry perfectly with the earthier natural tones like khaki, beige, rust and chocolate.
High twist cottons woven in a twill-weave such as gaberdine are compact, bright-surfaced and can be taken into daily battle without a sense of preciousness. They age beautifully, slowly developing patina and depth (in fact, too young they can be a little mechanical and lacking joy, so they take a little commitment). Some are super light and limp, making them more lounge-able and languid, others are heftier with a plushly peached surface. These make a beautiful soft winter suit - dressed with boots, layered knits and rich outwear befitting fast, intent walking.
Made from the flax plant, linen is a more irregular fibre than cotton and when spun into yarn it has a ‘slubby’ (lumpy) appearance. (Side note: linen is thought to be the basis of the word ‘line’ since a a builder’s string of linen thread was used to peg out a perfect straight line for the foundations of a building). It’s alive-looking and unruly to handle, and has a captivating disorganization to it (like Boris Johnson?). As a cloth, nothing is as breathable and it’s even cool to touch. It has a type of sophistication to it that cotton doesn’t, somehow in its scruffiness there is a confidence (...like Boris Johnson).
If you put the two together you have what is sometimes called a half-linen, but we call them cotton-linen blends. Linen is often left in the weft yarns (the across-ways’y ones) and the all cotton warp improves the stability. Best of both worlds really, a bit of slub but not quite the full party that is pure linen.
We have been working with our weaving partners to make exciting fabric developments. Woven in Japan, our Lyocell is an eco-friendly semi-synthetic made from Eucalyptus that makes up beautifully as a suit.
Apart from an everyday utility suit, dressed correctly cottons and linens can be great for cocktail events, outdoor weddings, going to the races in places like Melbourne (but not places like Ascot). Beige cotton suits with a black t-shirt are particularly good for hanging out in bars and driving modestly priced convertibles.