Informal elegance – how fintech, and eToro, are redefining fashion and finance

It’s London Fashion Week, a celebration of an industry that not only influences the way we dress, but is also a hugely profitable business sector that is home to many of the fashion brands and retailers that eToro customers invest in. What’s probably less well-known is how fashion and finance have become intertwined over the years, with the ‘look’ set by big city bankers often seeping into the business wear of other workers.

To mark this event, we commissioned prominent stylist and fashion influencer Chris Modoo to document the changing financial trends of the last 80 years, from bowler hats in the City of London to the smart casual that now seems to be the norm in workplaces around the world.

But more than that, we asked Chris to define the fintech fashionista look for the 2020s, because we’re not only changing the way people manage their money, we also reflect the changing world of fashion and how our customers like to dress.

As eToro’s UK MD Iqbal V. Gandham, explains: “Fashion trends tend to come from new ways of thinking and a groundswell of values shared by like-minded individuals, which for fintech pioneers like eToro, means thinking – and indeed dressing – like the customers we are in business to serve. Fintech is not just an economic revolution, it’s also a social and cultural phenomenon and should be regarded as such.”

2020s: Fintech fashionistas

Chris Modoo styled eToro’s own analyst, Simon Peters. He explains: “The look says respectable, travel friendly, fashionable but not aggressively so. Informal elegance. The classic wool trouser, worn in all its pleated correctness, is re-imagined with a drawstring waistband for ease and comfort. Knitwear is trim and practical with the old ‘City stripe’ shirt serving as a pop of colour.

“The blazer is the new suit, and soft, unstructured styles rule. The sneaker, once only worn in inclement conditions, is the go-to footwear for day-long comfort. The look is well put-together and considered as well as being disruptive and mildly subversive. It is the antithesis of the badly fitted blue suit and cheap shoes. Less formal but more elegant. A sartorial dichotomy.”

Simon Peters wears: Blazer by Mr Start, Shirt by Pink Shirtmaker, Trouser by Kit Blake, Sneakers by CQP. Grooming by Philip Hague (International Artistic Director, Toni & Guy)

1940s – 1950s: Bowler-hatted bankers

Chris Modoo: “The mid-century City gent of London’s Square Mile still wore a uniform with its roots firmly in the Edwardian era. The frock coat was replaced with a short, black lounge jacket but the fancy striped or checked ‘cashmere’ trousers remained – as did the starched, stiff collar and laced, black shoes. No brown in town, thank you very much. A waistcoat to match the coat, or perhaps a dove grey if you were feeling a bit more daring, is as mandatory as the bowler hat. From an institutional perspective, it was a code to tell if someone was ‘one of us’.

“Sporting the wrong version of your old-school tie (the better schools produced a country and a town version) or tying it in the ‘spivvy’ Windsor knot or wearing lined gloves would mark the owner as a person of dubious taste and character. To the outside world, it gives an impression of stability and dependability against the reality of a country coming to terms with losing the Empire and being crippled by Marshall Plan payments.”

1960s – 1970s: Peacock suits

Chris Modoo: “Banking became more accessible in the 60s and 70s. Cheque books with guarantee cards as well as credit were more readily available and whilst the UK was not doing as well as it perhaps could have been, it was a time of greater disposable income.

“With banks now able to offer mortgages, the bank manager became less of a distant figure of bowler and brolly and more accessible in his matching ‘lounge’ suit. And what a choice of suit he had! The peacock revolution had a seismic influence on classic men’s fashion and by the early 1970s, the traditional business suit was being re-imagined as a sexier, more form-fitting garment with narrower waists and tighter trousers. And the colour palette went beyond the traditional dark blues and charcoal greys into browns and beiges.” 

1980s – 1990s: Greed is good

Chris Modoo: “As a reaction against the excessive flair of the 1970s, or maybe just the flares, the 1980s saw a new conservatism in the City to match the new Conservative government. The support of the Thatcher regime and strong US relationships saw the City boom. And whilst some were apprehensive that deregulation would kill the ethos of the City, others saw the opportunity to create capital.

“These new power brokers looked to the past whilst they looked to the future and dressed their new-world wealth in old-school tailoring. Double-breasted suits in chalk stripes were worn with white-collared shirts and expensive ties with bold braces which exuded this new-found self-confidence of the young and upwardly mobile.” 

2000s – 2010s: Comfort and non-conformity

Chris Modoo: “Dress down Friday can be traced back to the City where it was acceptable to have a nod to the country in your attire in anticipation of the weekend. That is miles apart from the 00s version of dress down though that evolved into business casual. This was influenced by the growth of and the importance of technology, which laid the foundations for the current fintech revolution.

“These new professionals had their own subversive dress code that is often anti-suit. This can be either the chino and sweatshirt or more street-inspired ‘hipster’ attire. The concept was comfort and non-conformity.”