Men’s fashion is constantly evolving from year to year. Styles and trends come and go in a perpetual cycle. And this is exactly what Peter Greer, a true clothing encyclopedia, has been able to observe since the beginning of his career as a stylist, already 35 years ago. We went to meet Peter Greer, an expert stylist. Discover his sartorial history and his vision of style!

THE EVOLUTION OF MEN’S FASHION

RALPH LAUREN: A PIONEER OF MODERN FASHION

Peter began his career in 1986 in Ottawa in a store of a well-known brand: Ralph Lauren. At the time, the company had a very large presence in major Canadian cities and offered an important differentiating element: instead of going to a large retailer like Hudson’s Bay, there were Ralph Lauren stores to buy clothes like their flagship, the famous Polo. Peter has always considered these stores to be mini-museums, mainly due to the presentation in separate sections by unique product lines. It was in the more formal section that Peter felt most comfortable, which was somewhat premonitory for the rest of his career, which was to become a true expert in men’s suits. At the age of 21, he already loved the vibe of the suit, the energy it gave off.  It was this love of the Sartorial that was linked to his early success in the industry.  

NOSTALGIC CLOTHING WITH A MODERN TWIST

In Ottawa, the official capital of Canada, people often worked for the public service and were not very extravagant with their style. This was also the case in most large government cities during the 1980s. The clothes they bought and decided to wear on a daily basis had to last a long time and be fairly plain. When the first Polo stores appeared in the city, people went there because they were seen as a breath of fresh air, which was quite ironic. After all, Ralph Lauren is the great specialist in what can be described as “nostalgia clothing”: the company’s raison d’être is to revisit the past to design its new collections, as well as the cut and style of the clothes that make them up. 

MODERN RETRO FASHION

Wanting to create the illusion of buying a product that came from London, when everything was designed in America, Ralph Lauren recreated these classic items while being very ambitious in his creations. It was the return of Ivy League striped ties, American collar shirts (the famous OCBD) that could only be found in Boston, and elegant, typically English suits, without crossing the ocean to buy them.

The look of these clothes was very traditional but had a longer, stronger cut. No men wore tight clothes as we see today. The look of the clothing at the time, which was pretty universal in men’s fashion, was to have a slightly wider, flared cut to create a fairly retro style reminiscent of 1930’s men’s fashion.

THE EVOLUTION OF STYLES AND FITS

If you “glue” clothes on someone, the imperfections will stand out. But if the garment has a shape of its own, you can give that shape to the body, and that’s what made the suit so successful in the ’30s and why it’s coming back today. 

In Canada, we’ve always been behind the times when it comes to men’s fashion. A few months behind the United States and a few years behind Europe. This may be due to the sort of common philosophy we have here of conforming to others, not wanting to be too out of the ordinary, and therefore waiting for others to do so before embarking on a new trend. People want to see their friends and colleagues wearing something before they try it on themselves. Simply being exposed to magazines and images is not enough to take the initiative.

FROM EUROPE TO AMERICA: THE ART OF BECOMING A MEN’S FASHION EXPERT 

Just a few years later, when I was working in Europe, I could see the beginning of this trend of suits getting slimmer and tighter, especially among French tailors.

Peter L. Greer.

“The fact that I was wearing more classic clothes meant that my clients were almost twice my age; I had a lot of affinity with the 40-somethings, because the way I dressed, which is the same as today, I reminded them of an era they identify with, often that of their parents or even grandparents,” Peter tells us. With the advent of more fitted European designers, the effect was soon felt in America: men were becoming much more aware of their bodies, which was now also reflected in their clothing. 

THE TRANSITION FROM AN AMATEUR TO AN EXPERT STYLIST

What Peter wants to do in his practice is make things simple for his clients. “It’s taking complex concepts and presenting them to my clients, so they understand them, without needing a Ph.D. in men’s fashion design,” he explains. From there, Peter began to feel detached from the Ralph Lauren brand because the direction it was taking was not in line with what he wanted to accomplish. To wear the clothes offered by Ralph Lauren, you had to be a near-perfect specimen because the more fitted the cut is, the more your body flaws stand out. The reality is that this does not apply to most men. And when a man wears a suit, it’s to look their best. With custom-made clothing, Peter can ensure that each customer has a fit that matches their body, making them look their best! 

This new trend created a new demand for very fitted suits. This made many pieces purchased in the 80’s almost obsolete. This is one thing Peter disagrees with: a suit should last a lifetime, not fade away with the fast fashion that comes and goes. Although at the time it didn’t make much difference, today, in the age of sustainability, Peter is suddenly “in” again. In fact, this is something he has been advocating since the beginning of his career: “To buy better and buy less.” The initial cost will be higher, but it’s worth it in the long run, both monetarily and in terms. Learn more about the benefits of fast fashion with our Sustainable fashion: fast-fashion vs. custom-made article.

STYLE TIP OF THE YEAR

FASHION COLOUR OF THE YEAR, ACCORDING TO PETER: GREEN

Green. I’d like to say brown, but that colour seems to look too classic and never seems to catch my clients’ eye, even though it has a lot of potential. Green is becoming more and more common in the clothes I advise, and I’m even wearing one right now! What is difficult with this colour is its accessibility; not many manufacturers offer it, so we are quite limited in terms of patterns. So we can focus on the different shades of green if we want to stand out.”

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