Men’s formalwear has changed surprisingly little over the past couple of hundred years, and the bog standard two or three-buttoned single-breasted suit has weathered wars, economic depression and Saturday Night Fever.
In fact, today’s best-dressed lists burst at the seams with slim-fitting styles that can be traced right back to the court of King Charles II.
Hailing from Oxford, Luke Derrick is a 23-year-old menswear designer who, after interning at Savile Row’s Norton & Sons, debuted on the London fashion scene with a collection of sartorially savvy looks supported by Italian heritage brand Brioni.
“When designing,” Derrick says, “I always find myself drawn to the continental ideas of decontracté and sprezzatura, both paradoxical tropes of looking like you didn’t give a shit about how you got dressed that morning, when actually you really did.”
Derrick’s clothing reflects the informalisation of working attire that we’ve witnessed in menswear over the past few decades which has ultimately made tailoring accessible. Boasting a rolodex of references from the 1960s to the 1980s, he finds inspiration in personal heroes Nick Cave,James Baldwin, Steve McQueen, and Nicolas de Staël.
Luke Derrick: six great looks and their inspirations
“I’m a serial obsessive and go through phases of fixation with individuals who aren’t necessarily style icons but who I find resonate with my design aesthetic.”
When asked what the future of menswear looks like from his perspective, Derrick’s answer is simple.
“I think men are becoming increasingly confident and explorative with the way they dress, and this comes down to a greater interest in what male guests are wearing to red carpet events – notably the Met Gala. Watching certain rap stars move away from streetwear towards luxury tailoring has been noticeable too. Drake frequently flexes his Tom Ford and Brioni get-ups, which can only be beneficial to keeping tailoring alive.”
By looking to the past to inform future-facing suits, Derrick’s love-hate relationship with traditional menswear results in clothing that subverts traditional stereotypes. One look sees an extended waistband run the length of crisply pleated trousers; another’s shirt cuffs hang like handkerchiefs to create a playful riff on modern classics.
Double-breasted flannel jackets are punctuated by the coppery tones of a sash rendered in an antique French tapestry. Derrick takes a sledge hammer to traditional menswear codes to pose his one burning question: “Are suits elegant or restrictive, and how does the man wearing them feel?”