Easy does it: Try soft tailoring for clothes you can do life in
South African designer Luke Radloff talks about his passion for soft tailoring and why a relaxed suit should be the next addition to your wardrobe
If the first word that comes to mind when you think of the state of your wardrobe is a string vowels, you’re not alone.
In between working from home-slash-the-office to the occasional meet-up for coffee, the demand for outfits to be grown-up and sneaker-friendly is high.
Beloved for its roomy trousers and oversized blazer, the relaxed suit is the easy-going ensemble that packs major fashion points in both style and functionality.
Renowned for his non-binary silhouettes and laid-back designs, Luke Radloff, the Johannesburg-based designer and creative director of fashion brand Uni Form, is no stranger to the soft life of relaxed tailoring.
“Soft tailoring has always been a part of my work. Even at the beginning, I rejected tailoring completely as I feel constricted when I use too little fabric. It has slowly become a focus of my work and one of the focuses of Uni Form.
“Different designers focus on different things and there is space for all types of clothing and fashion.
"With Uni Form it starts with the garment and how it will look on the body rather than how the body will transform the garment.
“It’s still a celebration of the body but it’s more about the architecture of how the clothing and the body work together. My obsession about the body is not only about the draping and textile but how all of these pieces come together.”
Radloff believes his creations are not only devoid of trends but are “ clothes one can do life in”.
For his latest collection, titled Project 6, Radloff delves further into the practicality of clothing. Among the designs in the collection are non-binary, oversized blazers and loose-fit trousers in luxurious woollen and linen textures, which he believes are essential for the modern wardrobe.
“What I am discovering more about myself is that I am a designer who works better without a reference point. Especially for the Uni Form DNA, my inspiration is always the garment first and then everything else comes afterwards. I want the clothes to be the most inspiring thing about my brand. I want people to enjoy them and I want them to be made well and made to last.”
“Relaxed suiting brings ease and comfort while allowing the wearer to have a specific point of view without sacrificing style. It’s having clothes that you can wear in real life. Through my designs I wanted to extend that freedom that was historically offered to men and give it to everyone.”
“Take the classic white shirt, which historically originates in men’s wardrobes; in the collection there is a 'twist shirt' where I twisted the men’s shirt in front which then makes the piece non-binary and anyone can wear it. I think everyone looks great in that and a twist on the classic white is the easy way to elevate yourself.”
Radloff shares his style FAQs for relaxed suiting to edge you closer to fashionable comfort and ease.
How can a petite person wear oversized garments?
It’s about proportions and how you want the clothes to live on your body. There is no difference across sizes — the only thing that really affects the different sizes is someone’s height. If you are petite and are afraid of volume then go one size down. If you must, tailor it to where you want it to be. It would still be oversized but it would be in the correct proportion.
What should we be looking for in the perfect loose-fit trouser?
It all depends on what mood you’re going for. There’s a pair of formal dinner trousers in the collection, but I’ve made them super relaxed with an elongated crotch. I love the thought of taking strict dress codes and giving them an ease and playfulness.
How to wear tonal hues with the suit?
If you don’t like a certain colour on you, don’t wear it. However, I think it can be so editorial to be tonal and to even match closely to your own complexion; it can be very impactful styling wise.
How to shop for an oversized blazer?
Blazers that are longer with a relaxed shoulder will fall in an unusual way. There is always the option to take it one or two sizes down if you want the shoulder to become more fitted, and if that is the case then everything becomes more fitted.
Should we be cinching our waists?
Cinching the waist and other parts of the body gives such a different feeling. Depending on your mood and emotion you would want to cinch at a different place. If you want an active and sporty look, wrap the fabric belt around your hips.
And for a more refined occasion, you can take the belt out of the belt channel and wrap it really tightly around your waist.