Carlo Brandelli is back at Kilgour. When you say it like that it sounds dramatic but really this a seamless (no tailoring pun intended) transition for both Brandelli and the Savile Row brand - he's just finishing what he started. By that I mean he's carrying on the work he did up until 2009 when he resigned from the label after the new owners decided they wanted to focus purely on bespoke. It was a sad announcement for the label and left a unseen ready-to-wear collection by Brandelli floating around the Kilgour store rooms. But no matter now, because the architecture-trained modernist is at the helm once more. And really, times are probably more perfect now than ever for the committed forward-thinker to go on pushing for a 'contemporary' brand on the famously conservative Row. Menswear has never been going through more changes, and age-old traditions are being challenged more than ever - it's a good moment to be Brandelli.
Brandelli's a critical man. He's also a pragmatist - everything must have a purpose. So he has no problem ripping apart the fussy, pointless pretensions of the suited and booted brigade, those flouncy pocket squares, busy buttons and ugly, showy fabrications. There was a certain irony to watching them all troop round the crisply clean marble Kilgour store, designed by Brandelli himself (he's a committed control-freak, in the best possible way - you'd have to be with such a specific vision) in their brown brogues and red socks and heinous, dated trilbies while being shown tailoring that had been refined and reduced to its bare bones. That's not to say that Brandelli's suiting isn't luxurious or notable for design, more that its intrigue comes from what has been removed, not what has been added. So jackets in light-catching flannel or mohair have just one button (why do you need any more?), while excess pockets have been culled. Particular attention has been paid to the collars - some come cut in a minimal yet graphic diamond, while another jacket is completely asymmetric across the front. It takes a good hand and an even sharper eye to cut a jacket like that without it looking gimmicky or awkward - but that's the biggest success of Brandelli's Kilgour; despite the hours of thinking, designing and re-designing behind each piece everything feels easy. It's considered and carefully crafted effortlessness - what a paradox.
The obsession with comfort and prioritising the experience of the suit wearer over the suit viewer - you could argue many other Row brands cater to impressing your pals rather than keeping you comfortable - Brandelli's developed a sporty line, which included the ultimate travel suit, cut sharp but as made to feel as comfy as a tracksuit. He'd also dreamed up some flannel trainers with the help of Adidas. In a fun twist that riffs on the tradition of tailors using chalk to mark out cuts on fabric, you can sketch on some stripes should the mood take you. Customisable trainers on Savile Row? Whatever next? But with a maverick and innovator like Brandelli now set up on that street one should be prepared to expect anything.