On Monday, Doctor Who fans were finally treated to a preview of Peter Capaldi as the 12th Doctor in his new costume. The costume, evoking images of magician Harry Houdini and former time-lord Matt Smith’s ensemble, has been met with both applause and icy criticism. Some call Capaldi’s garb nothing more than a tired rehashing of the past two versions of the character, while others noted the more austere look promises good things for the long running sci-fi series’ future. While Who has demonstrated its ability to influence fashion and pop culture, you have to ask: will Capaldi’s Doctor have the same impact?
When Matt Smith took the reins from David Tennant in 2010, there was an equal amount of joy and dismay from Whovians when the actor chose a bow tie as his defining accessory. The rage quickly died out, giving way to a bowtie revolution off the screen and the phrase “bow ties are cool” being spoken proudly by Doctor Who fans and complete laymen alike. In the months following the airing of Smith’s first foray as the immortal alien, sales of bow ties across the United Kingdom exploded. This was particularly true for London retailer Topmans. The company saw a 94% increase in bow tie sales following Smith’s quirky style choice.
November 2013’s 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who, “The Day of the Doctor,” featured the return of David Tennant’s fan-favorite Doctor and spurred on yet another fashion craze in the streets of London. Tennant, whose Doctor wore a suit and an often flamboyant necktie, was given a floral blue, purple, and brown tie to match his famous brown suit. Debenhams, the Oxford Street-based menswear shop that sold the tie to the Who-crew, saw the tie sell out after images of Tennant wearing the new tie were leaked leading up to the anniversary special.
While his predecessors were able to reach beyond the screen to change the way people dress, particularly young men, you can’t help but wonder whether or not Capaldi’s markedly older and more serious Doctor will have the same effect. Both Tennant and Smith benefited from having unique and defining wardrobes to help immortalize their take on the ancient character. Are black leather wingtip shoes from West End menswear gurus Dr. Marten going to be enough to give Capaldi the staying power of the magnetic Tennant or the loveably childlike Smith? That’s unlikely.
The defining trait of this Doctor’s fashion sense will undoubtedly be his simple coat made by Crombie. The outerwear, known simply as the Crombie Coat, is navy blue, adorned with simple round buttons, and lined with a red fabric, ensuring the Doctor will cut a mean but dignified figure. Like the bow tie and 50th anniversary necktie, the coat, made by the historic tailors at London’s Crombie, will be a draw for local fans of Who and the countless Whovians flooding into the Big Smoke from countries around the world to partake in the ever-unfolding history of their favorite time-lord.