Men's Fashion Report: Summer Fabrics

Conde Nast Archive

Keep it cool.

Mark Rykken, Paul Stuart’s director of custom clothing (Madison Ave. at 45th St., New York; paulstuart.com), presents an English book of super 130s wool. Characteristically dry and crisp, the swatches are significantly lighter in feel than they look on sight. “This is something that ten years ago probably would not have existed in English style,” he says matter-of-factly. The topic at hand: How should a man choose material for a custom suit to wear in warmer weather?

When Departures last reported on the quality of dry goods available to men going bespoke, super 200s reigned supreme, and the finest bales were inching below 13 microns in diameter. That was, to Rykken’s point, more than a decade ago. Today, one can go as fine as super 250s, as light as five ounces and as thin as 11 microns. This evolution toward the finer and lighter has lead to a critical moment in which the consumer can more or less have whatever style suit he desires made in any fabrication.

Where to begin? Michael Reslan (689 Fifth Ave., New York; michaelreslan.com), former Brioni executive vice president turned private tailor, offers a more romantic answer to the question: “If you don’t put a life around fabric, it will not go anywhere with you,” he muses. “Think about the journey you’re going to take in it.” Then he recounts a tale of a reluctant client and a linen suit. “‘I can’t wear it—I’m a lawyer!’ the man protested. I told him to imagine walking along the beach in the Bahamas with his girlfriend, holding a bottle of their favorite Champagne and two glasses,” Reslan says. “He thought for a moment and said, ‘Get the tailor up here. I want it right now.’”

Endless choice, as liberating a concept as it may be, requires not only imagination but also a certain level of education. Here within, everything you need to know about the summer fabrics of today, so once you have the facts, the life you want to live—Champagne and all—can guide your selection.