The style of Keir Starmer, the new leader of UK’s Labour Party, is somewhat enigmatic. He is a man of undoubted intellect & scholarship, who when offered the throat of his political nemesis holds back from the easy drawing of blood in deference to the bigger prize of a longer term killing. Not surprisingly, many are questioning the ‘cut of his jib’. An unfortunate accident this Sunday afforded us a glimpse on this very subject.
The Ericle’s attention has been drawn to this tasty morsel which appeared at the end of the above Times article:
What sort of man seeks the look of a bespoke suit via the purchase of the an off-the-peg item and then have it altered to Savile Row specifications. 2 questions come immediately to mind:
Firstly, why does Keir Starmer, the leader of the ‘Working Man’s’ party, espouse the look of sartorial male elegance that is a Savile Row suit?
Ashley Morgan, writing for the academic international publication The Journal of Popular Television, provides a very plausible explanation for such behaviour by a fellow who clearly does not want to be characterised as a Toff:
“Men wear suits in a bid to convey power, arguably, by rendering the wearers uniform in appearance so that the focus is on what hegemonic men might say and do, rather than how they might look. Moreover, the uniformity of suits is a means by which men of a lower social class demonstrate aspiration to a higher social class and might affect hegemonic power through wearing them. While much has been written about masculinity and suits, with many authors agreeing that the bespoke suit is at the pinnacle of the hierarchy of men’s clothing, yet there is a little attention paid to the way in which the bespoke suit is represented in media or popular culture. The bespoke suit elevates the body of the wearer from quotidian to tailored, the fitting of which allows for better representation of a man’s body. (Moreover)… representation of middle-class masculinity, hegemony and embodiment… (raises the question) of whether wearing a bespoke suit can help a man transcend the boundaries of ‘chav’ masculinity, which is depicted as male subordination, and rise into middle-class hegemonic masculinity.” [Ashley Morgan].
This all seems very plausible and I can’t blame any chap for aspiring to ‘transcend the boundaries’ of any sort of masculinity – chav, middle-class or otherwise – but why doesn’t Sir Keir go directly to Savile Row for his whistle? I can think of a couple of very good answers to this matter of huge public interest. At first glance buying off-the-peg, in order to upgrade, seems like a formula for good value. Gladly, nothing in Keir Starmer’s personal history lends itself to geographical stereotypes involving his first name. His upbringing in Southwark – as second of four children to a mother who was a nurse and a father who was a toolmaker – speaks of a pedigree which, of necessity, would have valued economy. Bespoke tailoring, then, would have been an unlikely feature in the Starmer household. The answer must then lie in the professional path Keir took via The Bar to Parliament. The Draper & Garmentmaker, Mr Khan, states that Keir Starmer has been a client of his ‘for quite a long time’ but is not specific as to whether it was Starmer of Middle Temple or Starmer of Westminster who first sought out his impeccable tailoring services. Though I am inclined to think well of Mr Kahn’s assertion that Keir Starmer is ‘a very nice guy’, I can’t help feeling that he is a man who may be trying to pull the wool over our eyes, literally. Keir Starmer wants the look but not the pedigree. It clearly would not look well his being doorstepped by members of The Fourth Estate on the doorsteps of Henry Poole & Co, Gieves & Hawkes or their like of Savile Row.
I can not fault anybody for wanting something of the highest quality for themselves if they can afford it, and Sir Keir demonstrably can. The reasons, why Keir Starmer doesn’t buy his Savile Row suits from source, in all likelihood reside somewhere between Parsimony & Politics. As somebody who regales against austerity, the former seems a tadge counter-intuitive. I suspect that when it comes to Politics, however, it is the ‘appearance is everything’ tail that is wagging this particular dog!