The 11th annual Deighton Cup returned to Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver this on Saturday, July the 20th, and for one day of the year, it wasn’t faux pas to be overdressed on the West Coast.
Building off last year’s event of 7,000 attendees, this edition seemed even more popular, with the track concourse nearly full to capacity, and a variety of vendors offering cigars, oysters and cocktails to enjoy in the hot summer sun.
Two of the day’s best-dressed won cash prizes in front of a panel of judges in the “Style Stakes” Awards for being crowned Gallant Sartorialist and Belle de Jour respectively amongst fierce competition. Between the glasses of champagne and panama hats, there was even horse racing.
The Deighton Cup is an especially notable day for menswear in Vancouver, a city where walking down the street wearing a full suit often makes you look out of place, save for a stretch of several blocks between Granville Central Station and Coal Harbour. Case in point, as several members of the Micro Macro team waited for a cab after the event, a woman approached to ask why everyone was so dressed up, wondering if there was a themed wedding happening in the neighbourhood.
This seems to be the prevailing assumption in town, that you should only be dressed up for a notable life event or company Christmas party. There is a sharp drop off after this, where people often revert to athleisure, meaning anything you can wear to cycle lazily around Stanley Park on a Sunday on a tandem bike and even lead a lunch meeting if you work in tech. Of course, this is a functional style choice that makes sense for the city we live in. However, it is always interesting to see how people dress up when given the chance.
Going in with this bias, it was a surprise to see such a strong menswear showing at the event. As it grows in popularity, more men are eager to plan ahead for an outfit suited for the races. This growth is assisted by the growth of made-to-measure tailoring, both online and in-store, that have made it affordable and easy for anyone to have a custom suit made, and to make outside-the-box choices when it comes to style.
A pleasant surprise at the event was the use of summer suiting fabrics, with many breezy and dapper linen and cotton pieces taking center stage. Investing in a summer suit for Vancouver can be somewhat counterintuitive, as the temperature this summer has rarely hovered near thirty degrees Celsius. However, pieces that would’nt have looked in a place at a Tuscan vineyard wedding were seen frequently.
A finalist in the Gallant Sartorialist award, Martin Barclay showed off one of the more unique suits at the event, a wide striped blue and maroon ensemble with a cane and gold lapel chain in the shape of a lion’s head. The gold chain and other pieces are expected to be part of Barclay’s own men’s accessories line Tyrock Barclay, which is currently in development.
Another honourable mention goes to Kelvin Lopes, who showed off a three piece suit from Surmesur Custom Menswear in a chocolate brown, with extra wide peak lapels and a shawl-collar vest, accented by white tassled loafers. This look is versatile across seasons, and showed excellent use of often-overlooked customizations that can make any suit stand out.
When asked about whether the event was helping to make Vancouver into a stronger menswear city, Lopes was optimistic.
“I definitely think the Deighton Cup can help Vancouver improve its fashion sense,” he said. “It’s a great event where people get to actually put some effort into dressing well in a city where Lululemon is king.“
As this edition of what is arguably Vancouver’s top menswear event comes to a close, its influence on suiting culture can’t be understated. An event like this is about getting people out of their comfort zone and trying to out-dress their friends and the strangers around them. Even though Vancouver may never be a city known for suits, at least one day a year, we can feel like it has that potential.