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Ecosocial-conscious RTW Jackets from The Anthology

Updated: Jan 7, 2021

Here I am in The Anthology's 'Shaggy Dog' lambswool sport jacket.

As I was preparing to come up with the title for this article, I couldn't help but ponder how to best describe the latest ready-to-wear sports coats collection offered by The Anthology.

Surely, 'sustainable' would be a convenient choice. That being said, with the term being increasingly ill-defined and, perhaps, misused in this day and age by players in the fashion industry and beyond, it wouldn't have done justice for the mindfully-curated collection to be branded in the same manner as any other garment with a sustainable label attached to it.

Ultimately, I settled with the term 'ecosocial-conscious', inspired by the buzzword 'eco-social market economy' (ESME) first advocated by Konrad Adenauer decades ago.

Why is that you may ask? For this, we have to retrace back to the many conversations I've had with The Anthology co-founder, Buzz Tang, throughout the summer.

Buzz and I share quite a few similarities — we both originate from Hong Kong, we both studied in the UK, we both adored tailoring at a young age — however, one aspect which particularly stands out is our common aspiration in promoting social and environmental sustainability within the menswear realm.

One of our dialogues that has repeatedly popped back into my head was when he explained why The Anthology never offer discounts.

'There are three things that you minimally pay for when you acquire a garment — the fabric, the labor, alongside the brand owner' he said, 'Now, given that the cost of fabric could hardly be discounted, this means that it is often the labor or the brand owner would have to be underpaid as a result of the offering.'

Consequently, in order to justify their claim, The Anthology has so far priced their bespoke tailoring at a level that is affordable to both younger folks and die-hard enthusiasts. Similarly, the brand does not charge any additional cost for the cloth.

At this point, it becomes rather apparent that Buzz has spent a great deal of time contemplating what he could do as a brand owner to allow his consciously-made garments more accessible. After all, one of the most commonly-cited reasoning behind genuine bespoke tailoring's inadequacy in becoming a predominant form of sustainable fashion is its price.

Hence, when Buzz first hinted that he is planning to release a small and carefully-curated collection of RTW jackets, I could immediately tell what his intentions were.

Forest green merino wool/ angora/ cashmere sport jacket from the collection.

So far, however, I have only explained why the sports coats are made socio-consciously. What about the 'eco'-part you may ask? To better elaborate on this, we must then turn to the choice of cloth.

As of writing, The Anthology has launched three jackets — the 'Shaggy Dog' (picture 1); the forest green merino wool/ angora/ cashmere piece (picture 3); and the 'Truffle' (picture 2), which was released on the Black Friday that has just passed but was not subject to any discount.

Among the three, the latter two are made out of deadstock/ vintage fabrics from W.Bill and Loro Piana respectively, meaning no further jackets could be produced once the current batch or the subsequent batch(es) have used up all the cloth.

Indeed, there is often a saying that garments made with deadstock fabrics tend to be the more sustainable option amongst others in the room — this is precisely the reasoning behind it.

Finally, while the 'Shaggy Dog' is not made out of vintage fabrics, it is lambswool cloth woven exclusively for them by a renowned specialist mill in Scotland. It has a sweater-like touch to it, making it a rather unconventional yet easy-to-throw-on piece.

To my knowledge, it is unlikely that the jacket will ever be restocked after this initial batch is sold out, considering the notion of 'exclusivity' (referring to the constrained size of the curation here) runs deep behind the design of the whole line. Likewise, Buzz has expressed this will likely be the case for any future RTW sports coats.

Enough has been said regarding the concept behind the collection. I am certain that by now all of you are curious to know what are my thoughts on the actual garment itself. Or better yet, how does it compare to the bespoke suits I have commissioned from The Anthology a year ago? In the following, I will be using my own 'Shaggy Dog' piece for demonstration purposes.

At first glance, the RTW jacket does share the hallmarks of what constitutes the Anthology's house style. From the unpadded yet extended shoulders and the mildly-roped sleeve heads to the signature lapel buttonhole and lapel shape, these details combined continue to compliment my rather slender body shape (picture above).

Yet, upon close examination, there appear to be several slight differences that set this RTW piece apart from my existing bespoke ones. Let's compare it side by side with my dark blue worsted wool suit jacket, showcased underneath.

Let's begin with the pros.

First of all, the waist of the RTW jacket appears to be not as nibbed as the bespoke piece.