Last week, we posted an article that discussed exactly what it means to wear a bespoke suit. You can read that here. We were keen to find out whether the professionals that buy them are on the same wavelength.
Bryan Hack is a lawyer based in Cape Town. He is experienced and successful. He wears suits almost every day. But does he agree with us?
So, what does it mean to wear a bespoke suit?
It’s not about other people. It’s about me. How I feel when I wear it. I know that my name is embossed into the lining of my jacket. I’m not showing anybody that. It’s for me. And it’s brilliant. The appearance, the comfort. It makes the biggest difference to walk out and feel comfortable and stellar.
Why do you wear a bespoke suit?
I worked in the building industry where the dress code stopped at a collared shirt and closed shoes. Obviously, things changed when I entered law. I acquired the mandatory black number from Woolworths.
Through travelling, I established a taste for the kind of suit I like to wear; single breasted, high cut, wide peak lapel. The apparent scarcity of such a suit became increasingly frustrating.
I don’t need dozens of suits. My requirements are three or four classic suits that fit correctly. I’m happy to spend the money on fewer suits that do that job.
How does wearing a bespoke suit influence client and colleague interaction?
A suit needs to create the necessary gravitas. When clients come to you as an advocate, they have probably seen an attorney already and then they hand their fate over to you. Part of your role is to make them feel safe. I am the professional who endeavours to succeed on their behalf. It helps to look the part. That doesn’t necessarily mean wearing a R20 000 suit, but it can help.
How have suits changed from when you began in the industry?
The legal industry is conservative. Most of the suits are black and low key. There are mavericks, but most people have probably been wearing the same thing for 30 years. South African law is not Hollywood. There aren’t busty blonde secretaries taking care of us. The industry is not overly fashion conscious.
Many people are put off tailored suits because of the perceived price and process. What’s your take?
I have a few friends in the fashion industry, so I say this with respect – fashion has a number of objectives and determining factors – but the people in the industry want to make money. In that sense, it’s like anything else. It’s not unreasonable to say that fashion has to change to encourage people spend on the latest trends. It needs to sell.
This has impeded my ability to get a suit off the peg. It is severely unhelpful if the type of suit I crave is only deemed trendy for three months every several years.
I’m not in a position to buy a new suit every three months to remain relevant. I’ve struggled to find the correct suit. Lock Stock & Barrel has provided that niche offering that was previously available in JHB exclusively. I’ve just received my second suit from them, which I’m delighted with.
Lock Stock & Barrel advocates dressing for the job you want, not necessarily for the job you have. What’s your opinion on this aspirational stance?
Aspiration is important. If you are applying for a job as a project manager of a building site and arrive not looking the part, your first impression has created an obstacle. An interview can only be successful if you look the part. It’s not about dressing expensively; it’s about dressing appropriately.
Aspiration is important because it’s the first step towards getting there. It gives the impression that you have the knowledge, the skills, the touch. So yes – dress for the job you want, but not in the sense that you have outlandish fantasies about the job. Show that you possess the tools to do it properly.