But the chest of an Anderson & Sheppard suit gets little attention. Its beauty is subtler, softer and less immediate. There are three different body canvas options, but each is lighter than those of most of A&S’s peers. All are wool or horse hair, all are loosely woven and – perhaps most importantly – all are cut on the bias.
But cut the canvas at a slight angle (around 30 degrees or so on an A&S jacket) and it can stretch. In the picture you can just see the lines of tension as I stretch the canvas. That would not be possible if it were cut straight. You can also just about see the lines of warp and weft in the material. The chest canvas (the smaller section at the bottom of the picture) is kept straight, as you want less movement to be possible here.
In a similar way, the stitching of the chest varies along its length – as well as between tailors. Anderson & Sheppard stitching tends to be looser, allowing for greater movement. In the picture below the chest portion is on the right, with stitches an inch or more in length. This is relatively large compared to A&S’s peers, but with everyone the stitches are smaller higher up the chest and on the lapel (the central portion of the picture).
The grey taping runs around the inside of the lapel to retain its shape. And the far left section of the picture is the edge of the jacket, showing basting stitches.
Finally, for a little nostalgia, below is a page from a 1960s guide to being a tailor – with the man illustrated sewing part of the chest. This guide was given to managing director John Hitchcock when he joined Anderson & Sheppard and he was kind enough to show it to me. Behind the book is Mr Hitchcock’s exercise book from the time, with each page containing painstaking illustrations and neat commentaries. Nothing about the Anderson & Sheppard chest has changed since then.