It is difficult to imagine a more conservative item of male clothing than the pinstripe City suit.

Yet at the recent London-based Level 2 trade fair, which services the classic clothes end of the menswear market, several manufacturers did achieve a literal new slant on  pinstripes with the way they cut the cloth.

On the Gurteen stand for instance, where the return of the three piece suit was also a major styling story, pinstripe fabrics were used vertically - conventionally - on the suit trousers but either horizontally or diagonally on the matching coat and waistcoat.

Vartex also favoured pinstripe suitings, but its favourite variation on this theme took the form of broadly spaced striping. Indeed so wide-spaced were some of their fabric selections that they could have been designed for the stage wardrobe of veteran jazz singer George Melly who is celebated for performance attire which  echoes in  exaggerated form  the Soho "wide boy" suit styles of the late l940s.

Berwin & Berwin too forecasts renewed interest in the three piece. But instead its collection  looked  back  to the heyday of  the teddy boy as the king of teenage dandies, as the inspiration for 21st century suits with velvet collared long line jackets and stove pipe trousers. The teddy boy of course was himself aiming to recreate in modern form the attire of  the typical man-about-town during the first decade of the 20th century.

Elsewhere in the show the more conventional fashions of the l950s were revived by Vigan with sandy and dun coloured corduroy velvets. Here again, however, the cloth's direction was reversed - with the cording running horizontally rather than vertically - which made these garments more interesting than if they were merely a pastiche of the fashions of half a century ago.

Other ready to wear suit manufacturers such as Daniel Drescott opted for self patterned dark tone fabrics and for a slim silhouette with a high buttoning single-breasted jacket. While particularly among the Continental exhibitors it was the return of the full length, face cloth overcoat in a funereal black which made news.

Overseas exhibitors at the  February Level 2 included a particularly strong contingent of manufacturers from Cyprus with sights set on expanding sales into the medium price bracket, middle of the road styling sector of the UK with particular emphasis on knitwear, formal and casual shirts and on the trousering trade.

By Sonia Roberts