History, and a New Bath Menswear Company prove Sartorial interest is still alive.
In essence 2020 has been the hardest year that most of the existing population has ever faced and at their best the public is unenthusiastically clothing their upper-half to take a Zoom call. Is this the end of dressing up as we know it?
We say No, this is not the end of dressing up. Dressing is a truth that may be hard to imagine at this point. Dressed not for the comfort of a Facetime call. Dressed not for the 10th morning in a row sitting in your home-office desk chair. Dressed not for your weekly visit to the grocery store, or the isolation of the park on your own. No, we mean Downton Abbey levels of dressed, dressed-for-dinner dressed, stare-at-yourself in the mirror dressed.
Looking back at the past only strengthens the notion that this isn't the end.
We will be aching for something more when we come out of this on the other side. Something romantic, something idealised, something to harken back to better times. You would think that the Covid-19 pandemic has given us enough rules to last a lifetime. Aren't there enough rules as it is? Some, however, are there to help. Men's dressing has been governed by a set of rules that go back hundreds of years. Many of these rules are often either overlooked or simply forgotten about. The fit and tailoring on your favourite suit, investing wisely in a beautiful watch, and choosing the right colour to wear for your complexion type, are all small details but the sum of them adds up to sartorial perfection.
As stated in Dressing the Man-Mastering the Art of Permanent Fashion (Alan FLusser), accessories exist to exemplify 'the major importance of minor things'. Knowing when and how to execute men's accessories perfectly is a rule that all men should follow. Thomas Fortin, Bath's newest menswear accessories company, takes this rule to heart. Their 100% British made pocket squares, ties and evening scarves allow men, who are still capitol-D Dressing, to indulge their dapper side and purchase hand finished goods to augment their tailored wardrobe.
Neil Fortin and Andrew Thomas, both Bath residents, are the co-founders of this new venture. What began as an unrealised dream for the pair has materialised into a viable online marketplace. As the online menswear outlet grows Thomas Fortin will be there offering 100% silk pocket squares, printed and woven neckties and evening scarves to eager dressers. All their men's accessories will be produced using UK printers, weavers and makers. Neil is a costume designer and milliner specialising in period shows and operas and Andy has a background in graphic design and photography. Between the two of them and their passion for menswear their excellent designs and bold graphics will give new light to mens accessories in this new world.
Their first offering, entitled The 1st Earl Collection, joins together early 20th century illustrated tailoring renderings with bold modern patterns and colorways. The resulting aesthetic is both classic and modern with a decidedly dapper flair.
"They have even gone as far as printing fashion plates from early 20th century men's tailoring journals on their silk pocket squares"
In choosing the printers and weavers for Thomas Fortin silks both Andy and Neil wanted to make sure they were all UK based with a history of beautiful, hand-finished craftsmanship. They have chosen from the top firms in the country, using Adamley printers in Macclesfield, Vanners weavers in Sudbury, and Mustard Ties in Gillingham. It was important for the partners to use firms with a strong history of artisanship and creativity.
Celebrating the history of men's sartorial interest is at the centre of Thomas Fortin's mission. They have even gone as far as printing fashion plates from early 20th century men's tailoring journals on their silk pocket squares. This idea of history informing the way we dress relates back to our original question, what will our post-pandemic selves look like? We use clothing to inform and to educate and when we emerge from this year, what do we want to say to the world? In Thomas Fortin's eyes this emergence is not going to be in joggers and hoodies, it will be a fully fledged return to the idea of Dressing as an art form–a statement to the world, "yes I have changed for the better, and here's how". For now the company will stick to accessories but the future is wide open for other forms of men's fashion. Their next step will be taken in time with A World Without Covid. After the Spanish Flu in 1918 came the Flapper movement, and after the great depression and World War Two Dior emerged triumphant with the New Look. This is not an example of indulgence after a period of sadness but the perfect example that beauty and creativity are needed to battle the trauma of everyday life. Thomas Fortin is sure that their permanence in the annals of menswear will march in time with a Covid-free world.