Yvette and I have coffee with Chris Coleman nearly every morning.
We are both regulars at Monmouth Coffee and I did not know he was tailor until just a few months ago. Chris is passionate about his work - about the marriage of rigorous quality and complete service that goes into running his business. It is inspiring.
In all likelihood he will help me make decisions about The Suit; fabrics, construction and care.
Yesterday we spent the evening with fellow Monmouth ritualist James - on his 73 year old WW II MBT gunship. It is moored along the Thames and James has retrofitted it to become a houseboat. The giant engine room has been ripped out to accommodate a kitchen, the communications room is his study and he has converted the officers' quarters into his bedroom.
We spent the evening on deck in the best approximation of naval gear that we could muster. Basically Yvette and I wore striped shirts.
The leisurely evening gave me a chance to speak with Chris about suits and I asked him one of the questions that will likely play a role in how this project is shaped;
What was the peak year for the suit?
In other words, when was the suit at its height in relation to ubiquity, fashion and quality?
I had predicted Chris' answer to be 1964. I was off by two years... According to Chris it was 1966 though his reasons for this were much different than what I expected.
I had assumed the suit to peak in '64 due to several factors
- Mass communications were sufficiently developed to create a nearly singular Western ideal for The Suited
- Post-war industrialisation meant that there was enough wealth returning to society to drive demand
- The counter-cultural movement hadn't yet arrived to celebrate individuality and a (return?) to casual freedoms...(bell bottom jeans and paisley T's)
I am going to capture Chris' response so you can see his reasons why '66 was "peak suit" Chris is a great storyteller and my question led to a long soliloquy on 1960's London, poverty, pride and "watching the street". It is too good to put into words so I am going to try and film it.