In 2022, smart casual will play a key role when it comes to dressing for success. Nonetheless, the elements that make up this hybrid style will be required to intermix in balance and harmony. The reason I refer to smart casual as ‘hybrid style’ is because it combines the best super elements of menswear items to create an effortless balance of casual nonchalance and panache. Truly, due to the rapid pace of day-to-day activities, consumers wish to get dressed again in a completely different way, because the mood will have shifted.
When it comes to dressing well, I often highlight the importance of fit, balance, and proportion. Without missing a note, the power suit covers all three of these bases. The reason is that suits are developed to make businessmen look confident enough to take on the job. Today, however, an abundant number of business cultures are implementing good judgment style rules. And although most men welcome the new rules, they often times struggle with styling themselves- which in turn leads to decision fatigue. And if that happens, the retailer will not only lose the sale, and rightly so, but rather the customer will revert to old-style habits.
Luxury brands and retailers alike have grown so insular that they have become victims of their own market segmentation. Still today, some men think that by removing their ties, they fit into a smart casual look. They couldn’t be more wrong. The way I see it, this new dress code leaves room for interpretation and, by extension, a plethora of mistakes. In short, smart casual is a way to show others your self-confidence and individuality.
All too often, retailers inform me that they understand their consumer demographic. However, I have good reason to believe that they aren’t paying enough attention to customers at the point of sale. Most businessmen aim to look their best while on the path to corporate ascension. But if retail sales personnel are not trained to make men feel comfortable by teaching them the rules of smart casual, sadly, the customer turns away without making a purchase.
This season, French fashion house Berluti along with its design team has captured the codes of smart-casual by interrupting the brand’s past vision and intermixing style elements with progressive alterations that meet consumer demands. Interestingly enough, this is the first collection launched since Berluti bid adieu to its artistic director Kris Van Assche. More importantly, since then, the brand set a course for higher seas, and in doing so, innovation has strategically placed at the helm of the ship to steer it to the new world of today.
Although it is not clearly identified just how broad a concept it is, a smart casual dress code simply requires style knowledge with a customer interested in dressing well. And, with the right guidance, you’ll be able to develop this contemporary extension to men’s fashion. For instance, luxury sneakers, as well as other contemporary style elements, worn with a suit will make for a smart aesthetic. The way I see it, this Spring/Summer season, modified hybrids are right on the money such as drawstring trousers, unlined (premium fabric) sports jackets, cushioned footwear, and other menswear items that have significantly shifted in a fresh style direction by adding elements of comfort and resilient fabrics.
The Berluti brand proudly maintains a great heritage. In 1895, in Paris, Berluti established itself as a fine bootmaker. But it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the luxury brand expanded its design and production into leather goods, accessories, and ready-to-wear collections. The LVMH-owned brand has developed the Spring-Summer 2022 collection to modernize the silhouette well enough to fit into the transitioning landscape in menswear today. In a modernized sense, Berluti reinvented its leather aesthetic with the Scritto motif, by taking advantage of developing distinguished pieces within the market. For example. the team enlarged the Scritto motif, based on the house’s traditional calligraphies that seem to hold the key to the whereabouts of a hidden pirate treasure on a remote island someplace far away. This season, the scritto motif has expanded to a variety of leather goods, shorts, shirts, and even bombers.
I am particularly interested in their luxury workwear looks which include parkas made in bold purple and soft to the touch leathers in strong reds and greens. The Scritto design also comes in silk inserts and embroidery stitching on nubuck bombers. The look is made with a keen sense of attention to detail. The Scritto motif design is also woven, knitted, or printed on windcheaters, sweaters, shirts, and shorts. The refreshed design is applied through a heat-sealed leather padding process when not embroidered on one of their luxurious polo shirts or coats.
Separately, modern lightweight jackets complement slick trousers for a fresh take on the dress for success look. Handsome tees, plush hoodies, and many other accessories are available, including a toiletry bag.
Berluti’s new brand campaign calls for a return to the essential:
For the Spring 2022 season, Berluti footwear reaches new heights with the debut of Drapé, a new show highlighting the brand’s bootmaker heritage. Inspired by the depiction of draped fabrics in classic sculptures, paintings, and drawings throughout art history, Drapé embraces the curvy lines and refined shapes by adding a fresh take to the footwear collection. Verily, shoes are at the core of the Berluti name and the Berluti luxury sneaker is no exception. The Eden sneaker is part of a new ultra-comfortable shoe line from the Paris-based Maison.
The technique is inherent in Berluti’s core process shone through two of its legendary clients, Marcello Mastroianni and Andy Warhol.
“Mastroianni and Warhol epitomize the inimitable, timeless elegance that is the very essence of our Maison,” says Berluti CEO, Antoine Arnault. “Now it’s time for Berluti to proudly reaffirm its identity and its DNA, which were forged through creating iconic designs for clients whose names will live on forever.”
Marcello Mastroianni and Andy Warhol – two Berluti clients who personified sprezzatura and the Maison’s new slogan and campaign – both lived an iconic life. One a legendary actor photographed in Rome and the other a revolutionary artist immortalized in New York, each disrupted their discipline and changed people’s ideas about what’s stylish. They both wore footwear by Berluti. They were drawn to the technical leathercrafting know-how and design creativity they saw at Berluti, which has always had a pioneering vision of its art.
The new campaign shines a spotlight on iconic Berluti designs such as the Alessandro, a lace-up court shoe designed by the Maison’s founder, Alessandro Berluti; the Andy, the iconic loafer that Olga Berluti created for Andy Warhol, and Playtime, the first high-top sneaker. There are also the iconic bag designs with memorable names to remember them by such as Un Jour, Deux Jours, Jour Off and Toujours. And lastly, Formula 1005, Berluti’s iconic suitcase sheathed in signature canvas. Overall, the collection is a winner for the shape of things to come.
Words by Joseph DeAcetis