At a time when the value and lifespan of clothing has diminished, there is a refreshing emergence of fashion brands focusing on quality products that make a subtle statement. One of these brands, which has attracted many fans in search of fine men’s clothing, is Husbands. Founded by Nicolas Gabard, the Parisian ready-to-wear brand believes the foundation of an effective wardrobe is a smart, tailored suit with the power to adapt to whatever occasion it finds itself in while reflecting the personality of the wearer without relying on logos. Drawing inspiration from the streets of Paris, as well as eras defining menswear such as the 60s, 70s and 80s, the brand honors the past without veering into costume territory.
Here, Husbands reveals the timeless appeal of a well-tailored suit, the inspiration behind their designs and why craftsmanship is an important part of style.
The brand name was inspired by John Cassavetes’ 1970 film Husbands. When you create, where do you mainly draw your inspiration from?
Husbands is indeed named after the film – and while this is indeed a cinematic take on it, it’s mostly because of the film’s main characters, as they are exactly the individuals we wish to dress. These are men who had bumps, wrinkles, stories, flaws, hard knocks. And it was kind of a reaction to the whole fashion industry, which was communicating completely aseptic versions of masculinity with models under 20, tall, handsome, slender, perfect – but uneventful. We wanted to dress another masculinity, a real masculinity, not a fantasy one.
The cinematographic, musical and artistic dimensions remain very important for us, [and that’s] because we believe that culture allows people to reveal themselves — and that you never dress someone as well as someone who knows themselves. But Husbands loves every era: we’re just as fascinated by 60s pants as we are by 70s jackets. We’re currently working on an 80s-inspired 4×1 jacket with notched lapels and slightly low-rise pants inspired by 2000s. That said, we also draw inspiration from everyday life, from the men we meet on the street in Paris. The more we advance, the more we realize the work that remains to be done.
As a designer, how do you reconcile respecting the classic costume with maintaining a contemporary look?
Sewing is not just a matter of care in construction. It is also the search for a certain balance and a personal mode of expression which is found in the details — a shoulder, a backhand, a cut, a leg circumference. Respecting classic couture means putting it at the service of a contemporary and timeless allure, because it reflects the personality of the wearer. Within this specific framework, there remains a fairly vast field of possibilities. At the beginning of Husbands, only certain eras found favor in our eyes — but the further we go, the more we discover the richness of all the eras and the interest of mixing them, in terms of style. Many details have changed over the years, but the great balances and proportions remain similar, as if there was also a golden ratio in the making.
Why is a well-cut suit still a wardrobe staple?
For its power of concealment and revelation. When you don’t know what to wear, a well-tailored suit is a kind of key that allows you to go anywhere, in any context and in any environment. It’s like a second skin that allows you to evolve in a fairly neutral and benevolent way, which allows you to be confident in any place. Jeans, for example, are less neutral: they will stand out negatively in the middle of a dressy evening, while on the contrary, a suit associated with boots will surprise positively in the middle of a more relaxed evening where everyone is wear jeans. The costume always receives people’s goodwill – for all the shy people, it’s the perfect armor. When you’re young, clothes can be violent: you don’t really know how to wear them, if they’re too small or too long. Having a well-tailored suit eliminates these issues and leaves you free to focus on what matters. Husbands works on its costumes so that its customers can be busy living, without contemplating their own clothes.
Do you think menswear can incorporate more technical advances in areas such as textile development?
We always take an extremely modest position and believe that we should never say never. Our ambition is to go back to the sources of the classic wardrobe to show its relevance, but nothing prevents us, when the time comes, from exploring technical clothing to respond to this relevance. We are driven by history and craftsmanship, but we also love stylistic stories, and today there are technical materials that offer a richness of language that once existed in classic clothing, but at the cost of a excessive weight. We try to understand what the essence of a classic garment is in order to bring it back to our time and not to make a copy of the past. It is therefore perfectly conceivable to use materials that are lighter, more resistant, more relevant to our lives today but which give the same feeling as a fabric used in the 60s or 70s.
However, the use of new materials must be carefully considered to meet our corporate social responsibility standards. For example, some weavers work with vegetable dyes, but these require heavy metals to be attached to the material, so great care must be taken when using new techniques. New materials are often less environmentally friendly than simple wool, which is one of the most responsible materials today, if properly sourced.
Is craftsmanship more important than ever now that we’re in the digital age, where clothes are often showcased on social media as a sort of status symbol but not always experienced first-hand?
Status is always intrinsically linked to clothing, and it would be wrong to say that Husbands customers are exempt from this rule. However, we do not see the costume as a self-sufficient status garment. It is precisely here that the know-how comes into play to design a resistant garment. Craftsmanship is therefore not an end in itself; it is a starting point. Good fabric and good construction results in clothes that will look even better two or three years later – one of the few flaws in our clothes is that they are new. Craftsmanship is the style of the future.
Also, the know-how is not only in the construction but also a vector of emotions, an element of style: a canvas jacket is a jacket which will fit better, which will have a thickness, a volume, a density, a softness , a hardness that will inevitably appeal to the senses. Our ambition is to release these skills to deliver the emotion they convey. Each of the people working in this area, across our entire value chain, humanizes our project. They give the garment its soul, and the soul gives its legitimacy. For Husbands, craftsmanship is an inner sign of wealth. It’s a subtle distinction that won’t be visible on a cell phone screen. This is obviously a position diametrically opposed to statutory clothing which relies on the logo. We are far from this dimension of buying a garment whose only legitimacy is its final destination for social use.
What does timeless style mean to you?
In absolute terms, one could say that there is no timeless style. A wardrobe always expresses its era, which is why it is fascinating. Now, on a lifetime scale, we believe that timeless style is something that happens once you’ve found yourself. Designating timeless pieces for everyone is impossible, as they will become disguises for some. The important thing is to get lost, to look for yourself to find your own means of expression, your own theme of expression. Some will find their timelessness in jeans, t-shirts, sweaters, and they will stay that way for 25 or 30 years, and you can almost recognize them from behind. Others, on the contrary, will find themselves in a rather classic theme. In the end, even if the clothes change, wrinkles appear; there is an impression of constancy in these men who have found each other, as if they had remained the same.