When we talk about suit jackets or blazers, we don’t often throw around the word “salvation”. Traditional men’s suits are compact and tailored. It may not fit into the modern definition of “workwear” as a genre of men’s fashion – your double-knee pants or your home coat – but in any case, a suit jacket is a lot to work with.
Yes, believe it or not, there was a time when people wore suits to work. Most of my first few job interviews in my career required me to troll through H&M and find trousers that didn’t look like a burlap bag full of Christmas gifts to me. Traditional suits can feel like an attack on the body, unless you are one of the lucky few to spend bespoke tailoring. You are at the mercy of the rack, and the world needs to adapt to what is appropriate for the suit at that time.
When I first moved from San Francisco to LA, in 2007, the suits were razor-thin and outrageous for the purpose. The sharp, clean J. Crew Ludlow suit was the pinnacle of affordable masculine style. Scott Sternberg’s band of outsiders was making suites that were snug, short and looked like a prep school kid. “Rushmore” – Core, if you will. I was very tall, very wide and very poor. But I soon found out that I didn’t need a suit in LA. For many angels, the suit is a luxury item – something to wear to weddings, funerals, religious gatherings and unique court appearances.
Fully traded, Normi Suit pegs you as a lawyer, finance bro or one of the Mortisans of the HBO show “Six Feet Under”. This is not to say that there is no work here. This work does not require peaks. Agents aren’t really wearing suits either, as the COVID-19 has shifted a lot of Hollywood’s work to Zoom. This is not to say that Los Angeles is a tailoring desert. People who live here think of suits with a different ideal mind: unstructured, slow, progressive. Angelnos values things like outdoor lunches, convertibles and “when I say 8-ish, I mean 9” schedules, so our suits should capture the Western sense of freedom that matches our outlook. So the Armani suit is the unofficial suit of Los Angeles.
Perhaps it is the similarities between the Mediterranean climate of Italy and Los Angeles that have helped to foster this unique connection. It’s not that Armani, a great Italian brand, isn’t popular in places like New York or Chicago; It’s simple Sounds right Here Thanks to the influence of the popular Richard Gere film “American Gigolo”, Armani took cultural consciousness in 1980. The muted colors, the sleekness of the clothes and the coolness of the casual fabric captured the imagination of the culture that was ready to move on from the wild aspects of ’70s disco and punk aesthetics. It was the gateway medicine of choice for the Yuppi generation. The suit was more natural and hung on a body that didn’t shrink as much as your shared American Brooks Brothers cut. Armani was following the philosophy of the jacket brand: wearing one is like wearing another.
Armani’s glorious tailoring appealed to men’s clothing enthusiasts who studied ideas on vents, darts, and hips. But what made Armani famous for its average consumer was its relationship with Hollywood. Armani – Brand and Giorgio Armani, Man – spent years cultivating relationships with celebrities. (The reopening of the Beverly Hills Armani store in March said this; Nicole Kidman had a good excuse to be honored before the Academy Awards. The Armani store has always been clean, modern and classy; Has been done.)
In the 80’s and 90’s, the most common silhouette suit seen at movie premieres in LA was a jacket or blazer, often paired with an Armani, informally paired with jeans and button-down. That versatility lends itself to the red carpet style of the men of the time: more concerned with comfort than the bold options we see today in celebrity style. Unstructured, draped suit jackets can express sophistication without the restriction of traditional suits. We see Armani’s influence around LA, but never as intensely as Jerry Lorenzo’s God-fearing stitching. Southern California is an integral part of the Cool brand, the inner part of the brand, not only in the superbly crafted sweat, but in the comfortable suits hidden in tasteful neutrals, as Armani blessed the world in the 20th century.
Thanks to Armani, the brand has maintained its vision for decades. Flavors go back to the 2000s snug suit, but instead of abandoning its heritage and trying to play catch-up, Armani continued to refine its best formula in the early 21st century. Today, Vintage Armani has become one of the most popular categories in the rapidly expanding resale market, relying on customers looking to flip their lightly used grills. Armani has benefited from nostalgia, but liberal silhouettes also have an epidemic-age interest in which the wearer does not need to hold their breath to fit them.
The latest in the development of Armani’s iconic jacket is the Upton, an online piece with a double-breasted, standout top sewing design that looks like a herringbone from afar. The top lapels are on top of the jacket, and the shoulders follow the natural shape of your body. In many ways, this is a classic Armani piece – its most importantly sophisticated.
It would be a stretch to say that Los Angeles is underestimated in any way. It is a big city, a diverse city and a city that is far more than its prestige. The working class who do not need sewing do not see freedom when they look at suits. A suit may represent, understandably, harassment, indifference to privilege, or an unattainable standard. So how does the 2,400 suit jacket represent all of LA? Unfortunately, this cannot be done. Nothing can represent the totality of this complex. Fashion designers may tell you that they “captured the spirit of LA,” but that is fiction. Maybe you can bottle a piece of it, but never the whole thing. It just won’t fit in the bottle.
Armani vibrates with LA because it doesn’t try to “become LA” it doesn’t ponder. It plays hard to achieve, like the city itself. People come here and the wide, never-ending concrete arteries, disappear into loneliness. Maybe they leave for good. Or maybe they just stick to it and look for their own version of Paradise. It is expensive. This is not for everyone. It is for those who receive. Like Armani.
But the brand is not resting on its laurels. What’s unique about Upton is that it abandons the length that became so popular with older pieces from the ’80s and 90s. As a tall man, let’s just say, “enough” on the back side, I appreciate the long cuts of vintage jackets. The Upton also moves away from flapless patch pockets that have been a staple of Armani tailoring for decades. Flapless pockets became a popular place for men and women to slide on their hands to add a naughty nature to their outfits. I like to put my hands in these pockets as easily as I do all my old pieces, but the pockets are not designed for such things.
The youth market may resent Armani for doing things that are not consistent with the first time their records were discovered on TikTok, but the brand is confident enough to play around and try new things. Old stuff will always be there, on sites like Grailed or eBay, or in your parent’s room. Despite some changes to the formula, Upton is a translation of Armani’s original aesthetic principle: that clothes should be made not for dress code, boardroom or corporate retreats, but for the way people actually live. This is Los Angeles’ casual suit jacket because it’s a city that puts life at the top.