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How a Street-Style Photographer Crafted the Tailoring World’s Biggest New Innovation

The last 150 years have witnessed unprecedented changes in daily life. And yet, the basic design of the two-piece suit has remained relatively static—until now.

The Observer Collection and its designer Robert Spangle have officially declared a sartorial revolution with the STRO suit, which represents the first major change to men’s tailoring in a very long time. The STRO suit—an initialism that stands for sartorial, tactical, reconnaissance, and observation—boldly departs from established norms in a variety of ways, the most immediately recognizable being its double-vented front.

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But this is not an avant-garde play for the sake of aesthetics. Spangle, a multi-hyphenate who’s spent time as a U.S. Marine, an apprentice on Savile Row, and a photographer documenting everything from Pitti Uomo street style to the war in Ukraine (often on Instagram as @thousandyardstyle), has parlayed his unique background into a new model of suiting befitting 2024.

The design, which Spangle began developing in 2020 with Neapolitan tailor Sartoria Caracciolo, addresses how tools, transport, and climate have all changed since the suit’s emergence in the late 19th century. Whereas men once carried a greater array of objects, from snuff boxes to pocket watches, today’s man chiefly leaves home with three: wallet, keys, and phone.

Robert Spangle wearing the Observer Collection's STRO suit.
Spangle wearing the Observer Collection’s STRO suit.

STRO wearers can swiftly access these small accessories via two pockets located inside the double-breasted jacket’s front vents. Aside from the ease of access, the pockets’ placement centers their weight, improving the overall drape.

“If I go out and don’t have something in each pocket of the suit, I grab a lighter because it actually makes the suit look better,” Spangle tells Robb Report.

The phone, meanwhile, is stashed in a pocket located on either the left or right side of the waistband, between the abdomen and hip. This natural recess—where Spangle was taught to conceal weapons during his time in Marine Corps Force Reconnaissance—proves the smoothest place to store an object reached for hundreds or even thousands of times per day.

“The waistband is a great place to hold weight,” Spangle says of the design. “It’s not going to throw off the line of the jacket, the front vents allow access to it, and it’s a natural motion. Much more natural than reaching across your chest and fishing something out of your in-breast pocket.”

A world that’s gone from horse and buggy to airplanes, Ubers, and Citi Bikes—and grown warmer in the process—is addressed by an action back with a deep center pleat. This pleat, which sits flat while the wearer is standing still, expands with movement to give the back and shoulders a full range of motion and increases ventilation in tandem with the front and rear vents.

Robert Spangle wearing the Observer Collection's STRO suit.
The STRO also comes in a single-breasted safari jacket.

The design is also available as a single-breasted jacket dubbed the STRO Safari, which features patch bellows pockets and a removable belt. Owing to the specificity of the design, STRO tailoring can only be made with select cloth from Dugdale Bros. & Co., including the mill’s 18oz Fearnought bunch or the lighter-weight Tropicalair.

Sartoria Caracciolo, which worked closely with Spangle to perfect the design, is for now its exclusive maker. The STRO suit is priced at $2,800 for bespoke, or $2,600 for MTM. The STRO Safari will set you back $2,000 for a bespoke model or $1,800 for MTM; an MTO option is slated to launch in June. Interested parties may commission them directly from Sartoria Caracciolo, or via Spangle himself, who is Los Angeles-based but plans to hold trunk shows elsewhere later this year.

It’s still early days for STRO, which earned its first clients during a soft launch last year but made its public debut at the most recent edition of Pitti Uomo, the menswear world’s biannual trade show in Florence. And shortly, STRO may be coming to a tailor near you, as Spangle hopes to license its design.

“I think when designing solutions for people you really want to be the Ford Model T, not Bugatti, because you are trying to service as many people as possible,” he says.

After all, you can’t have a revolution without the masses.

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