Lighter than an ocean breeze, more flexible than a yoga master, and drier than a well-made martini, the latest suits constructed from these advanced, high-performance materials will make any man feel invincible.
The many men who have felt confined or restricted by tailored clothing will welcome the recent breakthroughs in fabric technology which, this season, are yielding suits that stretch and breathe like a favorite pair of sweats—and can even be tossed into the washer and worn without pressing. Better still, these benefits do not come at the expense of style—brands such as Canali and Corneliani are combining comfort with impeccably tailored lines and polished looks. Well-dressed men may rethink their wardrobes now that they can walk in the rain or disembark from a 10-hour flight and still appear boardroom ready.
“In the past, elegance did not often go hand in hand with practicality,” says Elisabetta Canali, a member of the third generation to operate her family’s menswear house. “Performance materials were often used solely for athletic wear without any consideration of how the item looked.” The Canali brand has overturned this convention with its pioneering Impeccabile 2.0 suiting fabric. In stores this month, this specially treated, natural lightweight wool not only stretches and breathes but is also wrinkle, stain, and water resistant. “One of the great by-products of innovation,” Canali says, “is an opportunity to make one’s life easier, more comfortable, and more efficient—something every man can appreciate.”
Today’s active men are accustomed to the enhancements of personal technologies, and some top brands are rendering such advances even more personal with suits reinvented for 21st-century lifestyles. “How consumers are wearing tailored clothing around the world is changing,” says Gianluca Isaia, whose Neapolitan company is known for its sophisticated suits. “It’s no longer just a suit and tie for a tailored look. You have to deliver a true luxury-lifestyle wardrobe for it to resonate.” Isaia is answering this challenge with Aqua-treated materials, which are both water and stain resistant and hold their shape even after hours of wear. “No one would suspect our garment is Aqua treated—unless of course you throw a martini on it and see the liquid bead off,” says the designer. The new spring Aqua Dandy suits and sport coats come in the brand’s signature bold patterns and colors.
Most of Italy’s luxury-fabric innovations have originated in the heart of Biella, a region historically associated with textiles. For generations, families there have processed fine wool and cashmere
with the local water that runs down from the mountains. Using the same natural fibers, the modern mills are collaborating with tailored-clothing brands to develop ingenious ways to enhance materials by tightly spinning yarn before treating and processing it. Corneliani’s exclusive new Savor cloth, for example, is woven from very fine wool yarn that is twisted compactly to make it strong yet lightweight and remarkably elastic. Stefano Gaudi-oso Tramonte, the brand’s global style director, employed Savor for a new trouser model with a concealed elastic waistband that he says “can add an additional 3 centimeters of space to the waist if you eat too much pasta. The most important thing is to give men something useful and offer them an experience. Most of these men already own 10 suits, so why do they need another? But they don’t have one that is this comfortable and this useful.”
For the past several seasons, veteran fabric innovator Kiton has been a front-runner in introducing new material concepts, including ultralightweight, water-resistant leather jackets. The brand’s most recent entry into the ranks of high-tech textiles is the lightest-ever vicuña. Considered the world’s rarest and most expensive fiber, vicuña—which comes from wild camelid animals high in the Andes mountains—is typically used in heavier fall or winter coats. After months of experimentation in its Italian mill, Kiton perfected a new ultralightweight example weighing a mere 200 grams per meter. This delicate yet durable vicuña will make its debut in a series of colorful sport coats for spring. “It’s the ultimate relaxed sport coat worn with white pants,” says Toto de Matteis, CEO of the family-owned company. “Our customers don’t need another jacket, but when they see something unique, special, and limited in quantity, they want it.” Priced at $25,000 each, only about 100 of these jackets have been produced this season due to the scarcity of the fiber.
Perhaps this spring’s most practical suit is Z Zegna’s Techmerino Wash & Go, a machine-washable tailored model. Made from pure merino wool treated with special finishing techniques, the suit provides thermoregulation to keep the skin dry and the body temperature constant. After each wash, you can hang dry the jacket and trousers for a more natural look or press them to restore their crisp style. Like the many other groundbreaking, fine-wool materials emerging this season, Z Zegna’s product is naturally lightweight and surprisingly flexible, allowing greater freedom of movement without compromising the garment’s shape. Even so, this and other technically advanced fabrics may not be warmly welcomed by every man: Those whose wardrobes have heretofore favored sweats and sneakers can no longer cite a lack of comfort as their excuse for not suiting up.