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Pictures | Thu Oct 15, 2020 | 11:15am BST

Unsuited to new era? Fate of formal fashion hangs by a thread

A seismic shift in behavior is having profound repercussions across the supply chain for suits and formal wear, upending a sartorial sector spanning every continent. In Australia, the world's biggest producer of merino wool, prices have been in freefall, hitting decade lows. Many sheep farmers are in dire straits, storing wool in every available shed in the hope of a rebound. Pictured: Wool and sheep producer Micheal Field looks at his merino sheep on the property "Benangaroo" in Jugiong, New South Wales, Australia, October 7. 

REUTERS/Jill Gralow

A seismic shift in behavior is having profound repercussions across the supply chain for suits and formal wear, upending a sartorial sector spanning every continent. In Australia, the world's biggest producer of merino wool, prices have been in...more

A seismic shift in behavior is having profound repercussions across the supply chain for suits and formal wear, upending a sartorial sector spanning every continent. In Australia, the world's biggest producer of merino wool, prices have been in freefall, hitting decade lows. Many sheep farmers are in dire straits, storing wool in every available shed in the hope of a rebound. Pictured: Wool and sheep producer Micheal Field looks at his merino sheep on the property "Benangaroo" in Jugiong, New South Wales, Australia, October 7. REUTERS/Jill Gralow
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Fine wool prices in Australia have more than halved during a tumultuous 18-month period, as usually healthy purchases of merino wool from Italian mills have almost ground to a halt. Pictured: Merino sheep belonging to Australian sheep and wool producer Dave Young are seen on his property "Ferndale" in Bookham, Yass, New South Wales, Australia, October 6. REUTERS/Jill Gralow

Fine wool prices in Australia have more than halved during a tumultuous 18-month period, as usually healthy purchases of merino wool from Italian mills have almost ground to a halt. Pictured: Merino sheep belonging to Australian sheep and wool...more

Fine wool prices in Australia have more than halved during a tumultuous 18-month period, as usually healthy purchases of merino wool from Italian mills have almost ground to a halt. Pictured: Merino sheep belonging to Australian sheep and wool producer Dave Young are seen on his property "Ferndale" in Bookham, Yass, New South Wales, Australia, October 6. REUTERS/Jill Gralow
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"Not everyone is big enough to hold on to their wool clip and wait for the price to change," said Dave Young, a farmer near the New South Wales town of Yass. "We are in the position where we have to meet the market within a relatively short time after shearing." Young, who has about 4,500 sheep on his property, said he had re-focused some operations to provide lamb meat instead. Pictured: Australian sheep and wool producer Dave Young and his working dogs Bill and Nova on his property "Ferndale" in Bookham, Yass, New South Wales, Australia October 6. REUTERS/Jill Gralow

"Not everyone is big enough to hold on to their wool clip and wait for the price to change," said Dave Young, a farmer near the New South Wales town of Yass. "We are in the position where we have to meet the market within a relatively short time...more

"Not everyone is big enough to hold on to their wool clip and wait for the price to change," said Dave Young, a farmer near the New South Wales town of Yass. "We are in the position where we have to meet the market within a relatively short time after shearing." Young, who has about 4,500 sheep on his property, said he had re-focused some operations to provide lamb meat instead. Pictured: Australian sheep and wool producer Dave Young and his working dogs Bill and Nova on his property "Ferndale" in Bookham, Yass, New South Wales, Australia October 6. REUTERS/Jill Gralow
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Dege & Skinner Managing Director William Skinner poses for a portrait in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. Skinner is a fifth-generation tailor and the third to run the Savile Row shop Dege & Skinner. Established in 1865, Dege & Skinner is one of only two family-owned Savile Row firms. Its clients include businessmen, generals and royals including Prince Harry, who chose the brand for his wedding uniform. Business has been “quite challenging,” but since reopening in June, the shop has seen “quite a lot” of new customers. “It’s been on their bucket list for a long time,” Skinner said about some of his new customers, who think: “if I get COVID, then I might never do this, so let’s do it now’.”  REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Dege & Skinner Managing Director William Skinner poses for a portrait in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. Skinner is a fifth-generation tailor and the third to run the Savile Row shop Dege & Skinner. Established in 1865,...more

Dege & Skinner Managing Director William Skinner poses for a portrait in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. Skinner is a fifth-generation tailor and the third to run the Savile Row shop Dege & Skinner. Established in 1865, Dege & Skinner is one of only two family-owned Savile Row firms. Its clients include businessmen, generals and royals including Prince Harry, who chose the brand for his wedding uniform. Business has been “quite challenging,” but since reopening in June, the shop has seen “quite a lot” of new customers. “It’s been on their bucket list for a long time,” Skinner said about some of his new customers, who think: “if I get COVID, then I might never do this, so let’s do it now’.” REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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“There’s a whole raft of attitudes out there … feedback we’ve had from some of our clients is ‘we’ve had nothing to spend our money on over the last 3-6 months, so I’m going to buy a new suit’.” Nevertheless, orders for the past six months are about one-quarter of what they would normally be. The company usually makes about 500-600 suits a year, starting at £5,500 each. Picture taken October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

“There’s a whole raft of attitudes out there … feedback we’ve had from some of our clients is ‘we’ve had nothing to spend our money on over the last 3-6 months, so I’m going to buy a new suit’.” Nevertheless, orders for the past six months are about...more

“There’s a whole raft of attitudes out there … feedback we’ve had from some of our clients is ‘we’ve had nothing to spend our money on over the last 3-6 months, so I’m going to buy a new suit’.” Nevertheless, orders for the past six months are about one-quarter of what they would normally be. The company usually makes about 500-600 suits a year, starting at £5,500 each. Picture taken October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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Head Shirt Cutter Tom Bradbury works in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7.   REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Head Shirt Cutter Tom Bradbury works in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Head Shirt Cutter Tom Bradbury works in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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An employee works at Fratelli Piacenza wool mill in Pollone, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

An employee works at Fratelli Piacenza wool mill in Pollone, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

An employee works at Fratelli Piacenza wool mill in Pollone, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
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"For some businesses, we are talking a 50%-80% plunge in sales," said Ettore Piacenza (pictured), general manager of the Fratelli Piacenza wool mill, a centuries-old family business with an annual turnover of 52 million euros. He also heads the wool mills department of the local business association. Picture taken October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

"For some businesses, we are talking a 50%-80% plunge in sales," said Ettore Piacenza (pictured), general manager of the Fratelli Piacenza wool mill, a centuries-old family business with an annual turnover of 52 million euros. He also heads the wool...more

"For some businesses, we are talking a 50%-80% plunge in sales," said Ettore Piacenza (pictured), general manager of the Fratelli Piacenza wool mill, a centuries-old family business with an annual turnover of 52 million euros. He also heads the wool mills department of the local business association. Picture taken October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
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An employee works at Fratelli Piacenza wool mill in Pollone, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8.  REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

An employee works at Fratelli Piacenza wool mill in Pollone, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

An employee works at Fratelli Piacenza wool mill in Pollone, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
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An employee works at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8.  REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

An employee works at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

An employee works at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
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Spools of assorted thread are seen at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

Spools of assorted thread are seen at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

Spools of assorted thread are seen at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
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An employee works at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

An employee works at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

An employee works at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
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An employee works at Fratelli Piacenza wool mill in Pollone, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

An employee works at Fratelli Piacenza wool mill in Pollone, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

An employee works at Fratelli Piacenza wool mill in Pollone, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
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Managing Director Silvio Botto poses for a photograph at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

Managing Director Silvio Botto poses for a photograph at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo

Managing Director Silvio Botto poses for a photograph at Botto Giuseppe & Figli wool mill in Valdilana, near Biella, northern Italy, October 8. REUTERS/Flavio Lo Scalzo
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Embroidered cloth is seen on a work bench in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7.  REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Embroidered cloth is seen on a work bench in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Embroidered cloth is seen on a work bench in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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Cloth samples are seen in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Cloth samples are seen in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Cloth samples are seen in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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Head Shirt Cutter Tom Bradbury works in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7.  REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Head Shirt Cutter Tom Bradbury works in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Head Shirt Cutter Tom Bradbury works in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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Silk ties are displayed for sale in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Silk ties are displayed for sale in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Silk ties are displayed for sale in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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Handkerchiefs are displayed for sale in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7.  REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Handkerchiefs are displayed for sale in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

Handkerchiefs are displayed for sale in the Dege & Skinner tailors on Savile Row in London, October 7. REUTERS/Hannah McKay
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Domenico "Mimmo" Spano checks his look in a mirror at his atelier in Manhattan, New York, October 8. Spano, a Manhattan-based Italian tailor who goes by the nickname of "Mimmo" and makes suits starting from $5,400, said he was making three to five suits a month now compared to 10 or 15 in good times. But he was not too worried and said he had managed to keep in touch with his customers during lockdown, by phoning them and setting up appointments. He said people still liked to buy clothes from him to shake off the virus gloom, and some of his customers had gained or lost weight during the pandemic, and it was cheaper for them to buy a new suit rather than alter an old one.  REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Domenico "Mimmo" Spano checks his look in a mirror at his atelier in Manhattan, New York, October 8. Spano, a Manhattan-based Italian tailor who goes by the nickname of "Mimmo" and makes suits starting from $5,400, said he was making three to five...more

Domenico "Mimmo" Spano checks his look in a mirror at his atelier in Manhattan, New York, October 8. Spano, a Manhattan-based Italian tailor who goes by the nickname of "Mimmo" and makes suits starting from $5,400, said he was making three to five suits a month now compared to 10 or 15 in good times. But he was not too worried and said he had managed to keep in touch with his customers during lockdown, by phoning them and setting up appointments. He said people still liked to buy clothes from him to shake off the virus gloom, and some of his customers had gained or lost weight during the pandemic, and it was cheaper for them to buy a new suit rather than alter an old one. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Finished outfits are pictured in Domenico "Mimmo" Spano's atelier in Manhattan, October 8.   REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Finished outfits are pictured in Domenico "Mimmo" Spano's atelier in Manhattan, October 8. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Finished outfits are pictured in Domenico "Mimmo" Spano's atelier in Manhattan, October 8. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Ties are pictured in Domenico "Mimmo" Spano's atelier in Manhattan, New York, October 8. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Ties are pictured in Domenico "Mimmo" Spano's atelier in Manhattan, New York, October 8. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Ties are pictured in Domenico "Mimmo" Spano's atelier in Manhattan, New York, October 8. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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Domenico "Mimmo" Spano speaks with a scrap book of memories in his lap at his atelier in Manhattan, October 8. "What I make over here, no-one needs. This is something somebody buys because they like it, you know? Nobody needs a $5,000 - $6,000 suit. They want to have it. They don't need it. You know what I mean? And I tell the truth when people are saying 'Mimmo, I don't know what I need.' The first thing I say is, 'You don't need anything. What would you like?'"    REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Domenico "Mimmo" Spano speaks with a scrap book of memories in his lap at his atelier in Manhattan, October 8. "What I make over here, no-one needs. This is something somebody buys because they like it, you know? Nobody needs a $5,000 - $6,000 suit....more

Domenico "Mimmo" Spano speaks with a scrap book of memories in his lap at his atelier in Manhattan, October 8. "What I make over here, no-one needs. This is something somebody buys because they like it, you know? Nobody needs a $5,000 - $6,000 suit. They want to have it. They don't need it. You know what I mean? And I tell the truth when people are saying 'Mimmo, I don't know what I need.' The first thing I say is, 'You don't need anything. What would you like?'" REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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