The introduction of a suiting line completes the offering of men's department store Harrolds.
GROOMING CHRISTINA CAREY | MODEL BENJAMIN ASHLEY
Sitting somewhere between Harrolds' contemporary designer offering and existing portfolio of luxury suiting labels is its own suiting line. "It was a natural move for us to do this after spending so long in the business," explains Theo Poulakis, Harrolds' joint owner and managing director. "I wanted to create something by Harrolds and for Harrolds' something beautiful that perfectly fitted our brand and that people could aspire to." Effectively, Harrolds' suiting line straddles the new and the old of the business: while of the utmost fabric quality, construction and presentation, the two suits - a British- and a French-cut - borrow elements from contemporary men's fashion that traditional suiting simply doesn't. For one, they're slimmer than a typical suit. But this was bound to be the case, given Mr Poulakis employed specific tailors known for their work with Dior Homme, (he who created Hedi Slimane's famed slim cut) and Ralph Lauren Purple Label - to concoct the particular style of each of them, inspired by men's style icons.
Harrolds' French-cut suit takes its sartorial cue from musician, actor and director Serge Gainsbourg circa 1970. What defines the suit, beyond its slim, hourglass silhouette, is its high rise: the waistline is higher than normal, the back split longer, and it features a disproportionately long length between chest and wast. "It attracts a younger, stylish customer," says Mr Poulakis, which makes sense, given its sold off-the-rack in solid charcoal, navy and black, as opposed to pinstripe fabrics that sit in a more financial realm. "It's not at all preppy. It's slick and sophisticated and a bit rocker."
While The French-cut shares construction similarities with its British-cut brother - the fully canvassed interior, the five buttonholes - it attracts a far younger customer, given the slimness of its cut. The British-cut suit, while still on the slimmer side, ensuring it remains relevant in a contemporary market, has more Savile Row qualities to it, drawing on the legacy of Michael Caine's style. The shoulders are broader, the chest larger, and features hand stitching throughout.
In terms of fabrication, the suits are ready-made from silk wool of the finest quality - 16-micron merino wool, in contrast to the coarser average of 19- to 20-micron - but can be custom-created in over 2000 fabrics, ranging from cashmere mink to wool mohair. While the custom option ranges on a sliding scale upwards from $1850, purchasing them off-the-rack begins at $1650 which, when considering their design and place of manufacture, Italy, is considerably affordable.
"The concept has been really well received," says Mr Poulakis, noting that while the French suit outsells the British two to one, the suits have, very quickly formed approximately 30% of the retailer's suiting business which, in all, forms a quarter of the stores' broader sales. "We can thank Mad Men and Tom Ford for that," jokes Mr Poulakis. And after a year, the retailer and his tailor are finally happy with the fit and cut, though fine-tuning remains on the cards. "We might change little things, but just to keep it interesting."