Fashion forward: a new era of business casual

PUBLISHED: 17:08 13 July 2020 | UPDATED: 17:08 13 July 2020

Richard Smith in the upstairs fitting room of his Hale boutique.     Photo: Contrast Creative

Richard Smith in the upstairs fitting room of his Hale boutique. Photo: Contrast Creative


We talk to fashion designer Richard Smith about how he is creating unique pieces for the new business casual generation in the wake of lockdown

Richard Smith menswear boutique in Hale.     Photo: Contrast CreativeRichard Smith menswear boutique in Hale. Photo: Contrast Creative

With non-essential businesses beginning to reopen, fashion brands are having to find innovative new ways to adapt to the changing retail landscape post-lockdown. One business owner who is overcoming these challenges by transforming his fashion label is Richard Smith, designer and owner of Richard Smith menswear boutique in Hale.

Here, Richard tells us how the pandemic led him to adapt his bespoke tailoring business into a menswear brand fit for the new era of smart casual.

Q: How are attitudes towards men’s fashion changing?

The minimalist boutique offers an exclusive shopping experience.     Photo: Contrast CreativeThe minimalist boutique offers an exclusive shopping experience. Photo: Contrast Creative

With the way things are going with social distancing and our increasingly busy lifestyles, people are looking for more simplified shopping experiences. There’s still demand for luxury tailored menswear, but a lot of people are put off by the huge variety of designs and amount of time it takes to get a made-to-measure outfit.

Traditional tailored suits are also being worn less and we’re seeing the emergence of a new business casual generation with an emphasis on adaptable garments which can be worn for any occasion.

Q: How have you adapted your business in line with these changes?

I’ve decided to take my business in an exciting new direction with my first ready-to-wear collection, which includes a range of luxurious business casual garments. Each piece is made using the finest quality materials from leading UK and European suppliers with one in each size per design.

I want my customers to feel as though they’re getting something special so I’ve launched a ‘made-to-order’ service, where they can come in by appointment and choose from a variety of beautiful fabrics, buttons, linings and stitches. I’m using my own ready-made templates so there’s less fitting and measuring required.

Q: What trends will we be seeing more of?

People want to show their personality and express themselves in this new era of fashion. It’s not just classic grey, black and navy anymore – we’re seeing pops of colour, patterns and bold designs that make a statement. It’s great for me because I love creating designs that are unique and sometimes a bit bonkers.

My new collection will focus mainly on stylish and timeless pieces which can be adapted within people’s wardrobes, including coats, jackets, shirts, chinos, trousers and seasonal accessories. It’s still smart but we’ve introduced some more relaxed garments, including Italian linen shirts and deconstructed jackets which can be folded when travelling. Again, convenience is key.

Q: How do you feel about the future of independent retailers?

It’s been a challenging time for many businesses, but I always look forward to the future. I hope people will support independent brands and invest in quality products that are unique, more sustainable and longer lasting. I’m constantly coming up with new ideas and that’s the exciting thing about fashion, it’s always changing, so you have to be willing to adapt.

Find out more about Richard Smith’s new ready-to-wear collection at or call 0161 928 8200.

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