Is Outdoorwear The New Tailoring?
At the most recent Pitti Uomo menswear show, Tore Mortvedt, the topknotted founder of Norwegian outfit Serac, talked through his collection with all the gusto of a new parent yet to experience the downsides of child rearing. But it seems as though his baby has bypassed any teething problems. In just four short years, Mortvedt's outdoorwear brand has reached maturity thanks to a signature of shapely silhouettes, subtle seams for extra comfort, and hi-spec finishes that feel more like the kind of thing you'd find on Savile Row than in a branch of Millets.
But he's no tailor. Before Serac, Mortvedt had spent his career in industrial design, focused on the functional as opposed to the aesthetic. The switch to apparel—a move encouraged by a brief stint at Helly Hansen—has seen Serac become a brand of arch technicality. Arms are kitted with bottom sleeve zip adjustments, to allow for extra room. Barely visible vents to the back provide added stretch and wingspan. Business coats look a lot like standard issue on the Waterloo & City line, but they hide a multitude of pockets tailored to the exact measurements of an iPhone, as well as a standard wallet and all the other 2020 detritus deemed essential cargo.
3341 Business Coat, seracofficial.com
It's part of a wider pattern at Pitti Uomo. The biannual menswear summit, once considered a trade fair and the tailoring mecca of Europe, has opened its doors to brands that don't quite sit on the traditional, besuited spectrum. Of course, greats like Brunello Cucinelli still show. But peppered among the classic brands are dozens of performance-driven counterparts, offering rails and rails of puffer jackets, cargo trousers and raincoats, crafted with as much care as you'd find in a pinstriped Lardini suit.
They're just as handsome, too. Where outdoorwear was once seen as an ugly necessity for torrid weather, in 2020 it's been upgraded. Silhouettes are clean, and palettes easily mixed with your wardrobe essentials. The rise of the hiking-wear trend (we all remember Frank Ocean's time as a chalet boy, by way of Louis Vuitton) has spilled some creative energy into outdoorwear proper. In turn, that means more scope for unlikely blends: puffer jacket and tailored trousers, raincoats and blazers, and so on and so forth.
Plus, there's all the craftsmanship we've come to expect from olde worlde tailoring, it's just meant for new world travels. Alongside Serac, Woolrich's Pitti show pared back on anything extraneous and focused upon the stuff the brand built its reputation on: functional, rugged outerwear. Paul & Shark, too, championed coats considered to be some of the most waterproof in the world, constructed from recycled plastics.
And like tailoring, the outdoorwear of Pitti wasn't suited to just one personal preference (or indeed, the eurohikers of Mr. Ocean's ilk). There was minimalist outdoorwear at Arc'teryx, colorful outdoorwear at Fiskars and even party outdoorwear, by Moose Knuckles, the noisy, loud, brash kind that may well be the puffer of choice for the flock of men better-known as the Pitti Peacocks. The latter brand even proved that functional, down-filled jackets of technical merit are for the cool kids, kicking off the collection with a party soundtracked by NTS, and inked by London tattooists Sang Bleu.
The cool kid, but also the new kid on the block. Alongside Mortvedt's brainchild in Serac, there's an entire class of them—and they're as skilled as any Milanese old boy.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.