In Depth

Success! Paul Smith's Suit To Travel In

Gymnast and British Olympics hopeful Max Whitlock on putting the designer's crease-resistant tailoring through its paces

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When Paul Smith revealed his Suit To Travel In at the 2015 London Collections: Men, it caused a sensation.

To demonstrate the resilience of his creation, the designer asked British Olympic and Commonwealth Games medal-winning gymnast Max Whitlock to subject it to a rigorous trial.

In an ingenious test of flexibility, the suit survived a technically perfect straddle-press handstand and a series of bounding back-flips and forward rolls. The quick-recovery cloth, made from high-twist yarn in 100 per cent wool, proved it was more than up to the job.

The range has been expanded this season to include new colours – joining classic navy is a palette of pastels, all woven in the same windowpane check.

Whitlock, who is representing his country at the Rio Games, shares some insights into what was – in both senses – a really smart collaboration

How did you get involved with the project?

Paul contacted me out of the blue. He was looking for a gymnast to work with and the concept sounded really exciting. We turned out to be a great match and I'm really proud of the result.

Were you already a fan of Paul Smith?

Yes, I've always been a big fan and I've used Paul Smith aftershave for years. To work with Paul himself has been an honour.

What do you like about the brand's aesthetic?

The way Paul uses bright colours in unexpected places and the fact his suits are so sharp and classy. The Suit To Travel In is genuinely the best, most practical suit I've ever owned. Lots of men take their suit jackets off because they crease at the back, especially in the car, but you can definitely leave this one on. It's brilliant.

When the idea of performing in a suit was first put to you, what did you think?

I was really excited that they wanted to get a gymnast involved. And, of course, at first, I was concerned I wouldn't be able to move, or that the suit would rip.

Was the suit you wore modified so you could perform in it?

Not at all. It's the standard issue. Obviously it was designed to withstand the demands of travel rather than a gymnast performance, so the team originally thought they might have to alter it, but they didn't have to. In fact, I've done full routines on the floor and pommel horse wearing it.

How did it feel when you first performed in it?

I'd never done anything like this before so I just had to throw myself into it and trust the suit would hold up. It took me a few goes to get used to it, but once I was comfortable, it was exciting to see what it was capable of.

And will you take it to Rio?

I always pack a suit – you never know when you might need one.

Paul Smith's Suit To Travel In is available in three different cuts, and as a suit or separates. Navy suit, £730; or jacket, £525, and trousers, £205. Pastel windowpane-check summer suit, £1,000; or jacket, £675, and trousers, £370

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