Tag Archives: Cloth

Introducing Tone-On-Tone Micro Pattern Cloth…

fancy cloth

Recently a client came to me with a simple request; when viewed from across the room he wanted a black suit that screamed classic elegance only for it to morph into something with a real sense of visual interest as the viewer got closer.  The answer – the tone-on-tone micro pattern cloth.

Introducing tone-on-tone micro pattern cloth.

I’ll start with the micro pattern itself – it simply refers to an extremely small pattern that is found in the cloth. The tone-on-tone part means it’s done in the same color thus creating a very subtle effect – from distance the cloth looks basic and flat while up close it takes on a radically different surface interest.

The micro pattern aspect of this is not new as cloths such as a nailhead, a pin dot, bird’s eye, herringbone, and houndstooth have been around from the beginning – some examples of which are seen below.

old school cloth II

What is a slight – though major – change is the trend towards doing it in the same color.  This enables what have traditionally been less formal cloths to have a new lease on life as more formal cloths.  Simply put; the weaker the contrast the more formal the cloth.

Perhaps the most clear example of this is found in the shift of how herringbone is being used. Traditionally it was used as more of a sports coat cloth; done with a distinct lighter and darker color and typically with a 1/4″ inch pattern as we see below.

herringbone - high contrast II

The newer version however is done only in the single color and the width of the pattern is often reduced – sometimes being seen in the more traditional 1/4″ inch but also being done in a 1/8″ inch width.  The resulting effect is a more elegant appearance and a suit that can be worn in a far wider range of settings as a result. Below are two great examples – so good in fact that in both cases you’d be hard pressed to even know they are a herringbone.

Herringbone - tone on tone

There are two other influences to mention with the rise of the tone-on-tone micro pattern – the first being the increased use of “fancy” cloths in the business or standard suit setting.  Most fabric mills in the world use the term “fancy” to describe their most formal cloths – those used for black tie and other formal styles of suits.  In recent seasons the offerings in this area have increased but more importantly they’ve become more subtle.  Different styles of weaves and patterns have emerged and a defining factor has been tone-on-tone pattern.  Cut as a tuxedo such styles of cloth provide an understated elegance; when done in a standard business cut it elevates the suit by giving it a hint pizzazz that subtly differentiates the cloth from other more traditional business styles.

micro pattern

The image above is a perfect example of this traditional “fancy” cloth.  In fact these images are of the suit to which I began this article describing – a classic black suit from a distance but morphing into a greater surface interest as you get closer.  The cloth in the images below are other versions of this – you can see the pattern in these extremely close-up shots but as you step back to the five to seven foot range it simply becomes a solid.

fancy cloth

The second influence to keep in mind is that of the athleisure trend that has emerged over the last year or so.  For those unfamiliar with this term it refers to the blend of streetwear, fashion and athletic gear; examples such as Stella McCartney designing for Adidas or Pharrell Williams collaborating with the likes of Louis Vuitton.  The main impact on the the tailoring side of things is the advancements being made in the development of technical fabrics that are crossing from the sport world into the world of fashion.  While these technical cloths are woven to achieve performance benefits they have also influenced the look and design of cloths in general to the point that the traditional fabric mills are paying attention. To get a better sense of this simply look at the cloths being used in the latest collections by major fashion brands such as Prada, Burberry and Luis Vuitton.

As always I’d love to hear your opinions on this or any sartorial subject for that matter.  Better yet book a free appointment and we can banter in person and see if we might be a good fit to work together.

Take care – Michael