The Long, Slow Death Of The Men’s Suit

The suit, once a menswear staple, was largely absent from runways this season. Goodnight, sweet prince

N.Hoolywood's NYFW Men's show didn't include a single suit — (Getty Images)
Feb 09, 2016 at 1:09 PM ET

It’s not just your office that is letting casual Friday creep earlier into the week—suits are finally going the way of spats and top hats.

Last week, as New York Fashion Week: Men’s came to a close, Vogue fashion writer Diego Hadis asked “Is the End of the Suit in Sight?” While many in the menswear community think the suit will keep evolving, Hadis argues that it could largely die out. He highlights the shift in men’s sartorial icons from Don Drapper to A$AP Rocky, the rise of athleisure and the loosening formality of office attire driven by Silicon Valley. Many designers have responded by ditching the suit entirely and others have kept it around just so that they can mutate or mutilate it.

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Take Comme des Garçons‘ Rei Kawakubo, who “seems to be waging a private war against the suit of late,” according to Hadis. Her fall collection featured modified suits with “armadillo-like plates of fabric armor” and her next spring collection will include suits with “structural slashes.”

Some labels at New York Men’s Fashion Week, like Public School, integrated zippersVelco and other activewear details into suits, but even among such innovations a full 19 out of 28 shows didn’t include a single classic suit (matching trousers and jackets, with standard lapels and buttons). Only one designer, Joseph Abboud, featured suits prominently in his show, with 40 of his 59 looks being suits. Todd Snyder showed the next most suits anyone else, which was a paltry 17 percent of his 48 total looks.

If it weren’t for Abboud, then only three percent of the looks at New York Men’s Fashion Week would have been suits. But even when we include Abboud, only 8.55 percent of the looks featured on New York runways last week were suits. That’s almost half as much as in 2011, when nearly 18 percent of menswear collections included suits.

While you probably want to hang on to your suits for formal occasions or at least for whenever the look inevitably grows in popularity again, you can go ahead and stock up on activewear for spring. If you boss asks you to dress up, tell that slob in a suit you’re just trying to be fashionable.

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