“Industry” is a love letter to dressing for work

Photo credit: Nick Strasburg

Photo credit: Nick Strasburg

There’s a moment in episode 4 of the new season of Industry when Yasmin – a rich London banker girl played by the magnetic Marisa Abela – recounts the bizarre banality of a pandemic lockdown life: “I became obsessed with finding the perfect white pyjamas. So on one tab there would be these fucking pajamas and on the other tab there would be these pictures of piles of bodies in New York… And then I’d buy these pajamas in four or five sizes… I still have every only couple. Those who looked after me made me feel very good for a while. The worst part is, I think it was the best fucking summer of my life – all I had to worry about was pyjamas.”

Same girl. The pandemic will go down as one of those strange moments in time where we as a human race collectively dissociated. On the one hand, we were relentlessly bombarded with news of massive death tolls and crumbling economies. On the other hand, many of us spent our days immersed in small domestic comforts like baking banana bread and finding the perfect all-day pajamas. Was 2021 the year of the Delta variety, or was it the year I tried to buy every last pair of tapered sweatpants from the Entireworld clearance sale?

Industry is about Very Rich Bankers carrying Very Expensive Things, and Yasmin’s monologue strikes me as one of the show’s most emotionally resonant moments so far, probably because it was something so many people experienced at the exact same time: the moment we hung up. our work clothes and put aside what we thought was our everyday life, retreating into the solitude of lockdown. Even now, over two and a half years into this pandemic – after countless articles about how Covid-19 has changed everything about our lives, including by no means the way we dress – the slick office wear of Industry feels like a time warp in all the best ways.

Yes, many of us have gone back to our offices in one way or another, but almost nothing feels as formal as it once did. Maybe you’ve dusted off your favorite dress or tuxedo for the occasional wedding here or there, but tried and tested business formal isn’t what it once was, and maybe that’s why I fall so hard for Industry: this show is the love letter to office wear that I didn’t know I needed. Industry is a nostalgic look at how things were, or perhaps a prayer for how they can be again. It’s about the statements we make and the power we find when we get all buttoned up – and even better, when we’re buttoned up afterwards.

Photo credit: Amanda Searle

Photo credit: Amanda Searle

Share successor, share billions, share euphoria, share the hills, Season 1 introduced us to the fictional London investment bank Pierpoint, where the class of recruits danced, drank, snorted and worked their way through their first months on the job. Season 2 picks up about a year into the Covid-19 pandemic, when familiar faces Harper Stern (Myha’la Herrold), Yasmin Kara-Hanani, Robert Spearing (Harry Lawtey) and Gus Sackey (David Johnson) are called back to the office, back in the fight.

But they make the office suit look good. The blouses! The Savile Row suits! The capes! Each character’s take on ‘office wear’ is an evolution – they’ve now been at the bank for three years and their style reflects the journey they’ve been on since we saw them since Season 1.

Costume designer Colleen Morris-Glennon told us in an interview that she wanted to make sure Harper’s style reflected her journey, but kept “that Americana” that sets her apart. That’s why this season we’re seeing Harper in Theory blouses, a Reiss camel coat, a slew of J. Crew sweaters, and—now that she’s got a few bonuses in her bank account—what’s tipped to be her first Prada bag.

“First season, [Harper] had just come from America, and didn’t come from money, so her clothes were very, very simple,” Morris-Glennon said. “We see that Harper is a little more confident in herself … There’s a definite confidence in the way she dresses, and this sense of actually being able to spend some money.”

Photo credit: Nick Strasburg

Photo credit: Nick Strasburg

For publishing heiress and posh Notting Hill resident Yasmin, however, spending money has never been a problem. Season 1 was all about trying to navigate the male gaze of her coworkers and being taken seriously in the workplace, so we saw a lot of tights, super high heels, and pencil skirts. This season, Morris-Glennon made Yasmin’s look “much more confident” and “more thoughtful.” We see Yasmin learn to stop expecting her male colleagues to give her power, and instead seize it for herself. No longer afraid to flaunt the privilege she comes from – but rather own and ultimately exploit it – she glides across our screens decked out in Burberry coats and Hermes bags and jewellery.

Whether it’s at a client dinner or an office drama on the trading floor, Yasmin always seems to have the perfect expensive blouse that sits perfectly on her décolleté. There’s even a dull brown suit from Maje that rebukes the “pencil skirt and tights” cliché of what a woman in the workplace can and should look like. It’s cool, it’s empowered, it’s obviously her. It makes us forget the white pajamas.

Photo credit: Nick Strasburg

Photo credit: Nick Strasburg

“I made a concerted effort … to look a little more polished, a little less about wanting attention and being comfortable,” Morris-Glennon said. “Marisa has the perfect body for that pantsuit, so I knew she’d carry off a box suit so well… Just to see her confidence in that suit!”

Even men’s fashion is happy. Robert Spearing, a Brit from humble beginnings who was the laughingstock of the trade counter for his black funeral suit last season, now has the panache of Hugo Boss suits, French-cuffed shirts and Hermes ties. Who can say no to a man in an expensive suit?

Morris-Glennon, a Savile Row-trained tailor by trade, was also very careful that you’re not looking at “a sea of ​​suits” on screen, so fashionable (yet Pierpoint-appropriate) details abound. From the lapel sizes to the fits, no two suits look the same, and even when two men in white shirts appear on screen, Morris-Glennon made sure to use different textures to keep them visually interesting.

Image credit: HBO

Image credit: HBO

There is a lot of buzz around Industry at the moment: for its writing; for the compulsively watchable party scenes; for Marisa Abela is cast in both next year’s Greta Gerwig Barbie film and in the upcoming Amy Winehouse biography. But if you ask me, people love this show because it’s a peek into a weird world that almost disappeared during the pandemic, a world that 99% of us never get to see. It’s a world of billion-dollar deals that happen on a whim over the phone, where dressing the part isn’t just about the office dress code, but the sincere expression of your ambitions. It’s both a love letter to and a searing indictment of corporate culture, and everyone looks damn good in it.

And as a result? I have never wanted an office job again.

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