The revival of the silk dressing gown: What makes great luxury loungewear?
With silk dressing gowns dating back as far as the 17th century, Geoff Stocker, the British menswear accessory designer, shares his insight into what makes this ultimate luxury loungewear accessory a must have.
“I see every single piece of my collection as collectible and a piece of wearable artwork, as Oscar Wilde once said ‘One should either be a work of Art, or wear a work of Art’,” he told us.
What makes great luxury loungewear?
Getting the mood right. In designing a surface pattern for my dressing gowns the process generally starts with a deep, rich coloured ground and then lay a much lighter linear design over the top as a highlight. The effect is that the wearer should feel enveloped by the design and warmed by it.
What made you want to start your own label?
I have been a freelance graphics professional for the past 24 years but have only been involved in Men’s Fashion for the last 8 years. I came to it late, much too late to have to work my way up slowly. But with the ease of access to suppliers via the internet and the development of high quality short run digital printing on fabric, I was able turn drawing board designs into designer quality silk products and build my brand relatively quickly. The brand was launched in 2014 and since then has produced 6 pocket square collections, a classic silk scarf collection, a neck tie collection and most recently the Men’s Silk Dressing Gown range. I also create bespoke collections and collaborations with bloggers and menswear stores.
What makes a great luxury dressing gown?
You must start with the material. Silk is and always will be the gold standard for luxury fabric. The gowns are unlined, so that you feel the softness of the silk wherever you make contact with it. The designs are then printed on the surface rather than woven into the fabric the silk has to be of a fine weave, in order to take the intricate detail that is the trademark of my brand.
The gown construction is another essential luxury factor. The Geoff Stocker gowns have a wide Shawl collar, with matching sash belt and rifle cuffs. The silk that is used for this is a plain colour that has been carefully selected and printed so as to be the perfect complement to the main pattern design. A breast pocket is then added in addition to the two side pockets, just in case the wearer feels the need to accessorize with a pocket square. It has been known!
How important is fabric choice when picking a dressing gown?
It depends on when and where you are going to wear it. The dressing gowns are not something you would ever step out of the shower into, as water and silk don’t mix well together. They are for relaxing into after you’ve taken off your bath robe. Silk has the unique property of being insulating in the cold and cool in the warm. The silk used is a lightweight 15 oz Twill that does not weigh the wearer down, so it’s perfect for year round wear.
What does the process entail to develop your eclectic designs?
The origins of the idea for the dressing gown collection came from a holiday I took in Japan a few years ago. While there I saw a lot of wonderful textiles and came back determined to make a range of Kimonos. After calming down though I realised that I would only ever be borrowing from another culture and the results would be ersatz and insincere. The Men’s Silk Dressing Gown has been around since the 17th Century, so it followed that the idea could be translated into something more relevant to my own Western culture and history.
Unlike a pocket square, which can be an explosion of colour and form in a small and contained space. A garment has to be more subtle. It’s never been my intention to make a costume. I want people to be surrounded by a design and fabric that are working together to enshroud them but without overwhelming them. The dressing gown is after all a traditionally understated classic. Many brands employ plain, striped, or the occasional Paisley design on silk, so the designs start from a quiet beginning and gradually increase in volume.
All my designs are created in Photoshop, which I have been using for the past 22 years as my primary creative tool. The offset repeat designs are created with the drawing, painting and layering features that can then be tiled easily over the three and half metre length of silk that is needed to make a gown.
What are your tips for caring for a luxury silk dressing gown?
Try not to spill anything on it. If you do, then dry clean only. And if possible don’t use an iron to press it. Certainly don’t iron the shawl collar as this will likely create a heavy line from the French seam below it in the case of my gowns. I speak from experience. Instead buy a steamer, even a hand held one will remove creases miraculously, but for the best results get a larger stand up model. All your other silk products will thank you for it too.
And don’t forget…..
Silk is durable and versatile. Compacted silk has been known stop a bullet and a silk dressing gown will likely outlive you. Silk is one of our greatest and most precious discoveries in my opinion, so be part of an ‘Inclusive’ club and invest in some.