How a Parisian Tailor Brought Sexiness Back to Suits

One day a couple of years ago, a man walked into Husbands store in Paris’ second arrondissement. The man, who was in his 60s, tried on a black suit, cut from a lightweight, breathable fresco wool, and looked in the mirror. “Oh yes,” he said. “I’m fuckable again.”

Husbands founder Nicolas Gabard tells this story while laughing. Ever since Gabard launched the label in 2012, Husbands—which mixes classic tailoring with references to music and film—has been celebrated for archetypically Parisian collections. With this customer, Husbands reaffirmed itself as a sultry alternative to more buttoned-up brands. As Gabard explains from his Paris office: “I would like my customer to be the sexiest guy in the room.”

Gabard’s background isn’t in fashion. He worked as a lawyer before establishing his own advertising agency. Across both careers, there was a growing interest in clothes that was drawn from the cultural icons Gabard admired—he references Serge Gainsbourg, Francis Bacon, Jarvis Cocker, Alex Turner, and Bryan Ferry amongst others.

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“When I was a lawyer, I spent my money on clothes, and when I created my agency, I spent my money on bespoke suits,” he says. “I spent a lot of money to forget that I was not happy in my job.” Eventually, shortly before his 40th birthday, Gabard decided to take the plunge and establish Husbands. “I thought I had something compelling to say in menswear,” he says. “My plan was to create a beautiful world where you could find old classics—raw denim, double-breasted suits, silk shirts—it was very specific. I told myself that if I needed this, then I’m sure someone else will need it.”

For many fans of the brand, that word “sexy” often comes up. “The brand offers a modern perspective on traditional tailoring that adds a sexy, ’70s-inspired take on wardrobe essentials for any discerning gentleman,” says Matthew Dawson, buyer at Matches, who are launching an exclusive capsule with Husbands later this year. For Dawson, Husbands’ appeal lies in its ability to make clothing for “men that want to feel sophisticated and dressed up.” In particular, he highlights the “flared silhouettes, strong shoulders, sharp waistlines and vintage fabrications.”

This approach is drawn from the artists, musicians, and actors that Gabard has always loved. On the Husbands website there is a history page, which plots major dates in the label’s evolution. It extends far beyond 2012, when Husbands was founded, covering “The Great Male Renunciation” of the 19th century, as well as books, films and albums of the two centuries in between. There is a nod to Terence Malick’s film Badlands and the white T-shirt and blue jeans of “American Tailoring,” alongside the black Agnes b. suits worn in Reservoir Dogs and The Strokes’ first album.

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