Most shops do not redesign the knitwear they stock. They pick colours and models, and decide which sizes to carry, but the overall design and fit is left untouched. This is perhaps understandable: they do the same with other stock such as ties and handkerchiefs, picking from a variety of silks and patterns but essentially relabeling the designs of the manufacturer.


The problem is, if you don’t fit the standard industry sizes, you’re out of luck. Knitwear tends to be full in the body, based on the rationale that men are more likely to notice if it is too tight than too loose. Even average-sized men find it hard to buy slim-fitting knitwear, outside of some of the designer brands (which come with their own problems with price and fashion).


Last year I tried Loro Piana’s made-to-measure knitwear for a piece in The Rake. After an initial failure, we ended up with a piece that fitted very well. But Loro Piana’s lack of alternative fits demonstrated how undynamic the market is. Full and boxy is all you get.


As you might expect, I mention this problem only in order to reveal the solution – or part of it, anyway. Audie, Anda and the rest of the team at the Anderson & Sheppard haberdashery have done what few other shops do and redesigned much of their knitwear. They worked with the same Scottish, Irish and Italian producers that you know and love, but went through multiple prototypes to get fits that they felt better suited their customers.      


This isn’t easy. I went through that process with John Smedley myself of course, and tried on a few A&S prototypes during their process to give feedback. You quickly realise why few shops think it is worth the time and effort.


As yet, the A&S shop does not have a full website and there is no guide to the various designs. So I mention my four favourites here – I find it’s always nice to have an idea what you’re looking for before you wander into a shop. These are all models with a particularly slim fit that, for that reason, stand out for me from the rest of the market.


The prices vary considerably, reflecting the cost of the materials and the desire of the A&S team to offer a range of pieces. As mentioned before, I think this range and realistic pricing means there is something in there for everyone.



The shawl-collar cardigan, £280. Perhaps the most radical of the redesigns. Cut short and slim in the body, with a slim sleeve. The slimness of the body and sleeve means it can fit under a lot of jackets, while the short body means it sits just on the waistband of regular trousers. It is a world away from the normal, baggy shawl-collars. May even be too short for some. In lambswool, so relatively affordable.



The Shetland sweater, £140. In Shetland wool, so also quite affordable, and cut slim in the waist. I wear a small, as I do with the shawl-collar, and the sleeves are not too short – a common problem when sizing down with knitwear. A&S designed most pieces with slightly longer sleeves in reaction to comments from customers.



The cable-knit lambswool sweater, £140. Thinner than most cable-knits, so fits under a jacket, and cut to the same model as the Shetland.



The ultra-thin cashmere, £265. The perfect piece for sitting underneath a jacket in that Italian fashion (think navy crewneck, blue buttondown and checked blazer). Comes in a variety of colours, and both crew and V-neck, though stock is a little low at the moment. Cut slim in the body and sleeve. I wear an extra-small, though should really have gone with a small. Being cashmere, and very fine cashmere at that (at 30 gauge), it is rather more expensive.

Pop in and have a look.


Photography: Luke Carby

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Anonymous

Check out Uniqlo — fantastic slim fitting knitwear at good prices as long as you don’g mind it’s from Asia.

dsc

Indeed Uniqlo is not bad for what it is, but there’s no comparison to A&S, that’s for sure. Also Uniqlo just recently relaxed their cuts, so all those nicely fitting cardigans from a few years back are now as baggy and loosely knitted (read, stretchy) as most available else where.

Good to see someone trying to do slim fitting on knitwear, most of the time I have to do with downsizing typical sizes, most often ending with too short sleeves and shoulder sections not wide enough (so that your collar sticks out plus half of the shirt shoulder).

Regards,
T.

Asher

I really do love this store. The staff is so friendly and knowledgable and the product is really unlike anything I’ve encountered elsewhere. I love stopping in whenever I can. Some of their Irish knitwear is truly one-of-a-kind, and I’ve picked up a few ties that are remarkable not only in style but also in price (£40-50). I’ve never seen knits with such attention to detail or accessories of such quality at such reasonable pricing. Also, love their RTW shirts. The cut is slim, but doesn’t feel tight when seated, and after a year’s worth of washing they’re still as good as new. What a fantastic shop.

Carmelo Pugliatti

When will end this absurd fad of “slim & short” ?!

Frank

I second that. Tight and short knits often make a “boyish” rather than grown up impression. I think the pictures illustrate that. A somewhat looser fit would flatter the wearer more. However, last year I tried some of the knits at the A&S and the Drakes store and they were too baggy indeed. I ended up with the classic John Smedley, which fits perfectly to me.

Anonymous

Fads aside, some of us are just skinny and lanky. A full cut sweater makes me look like sickly.

Patrick Humphreys

No fad. Knitwear has always been worn fitted. Just look, for instance, at period Hollywood photos. Buster Keaton and Fred Astaire were short and skinny and knew enough to wear their knitwear accordingly without fear of appearing ‘boyish’. It’s similar to the way shirts are fitted, in that any excess fabric beyond what’s required for comfort and practicality ought to be eliminated—unlike trousers, to contrast, where not only ought the policy on excess be relaxed for purposes of bending one’s knees etc., but the concept of drape is also introduced. In other words, jumpers, as shirts, should fit like a second skin. Any notion to the contrary, such as attempting to factor in ‘proportion’ and ‘counterbalance’, shouldn’t be pursued.

Anonymous

What are your thoughts on having an alteration tailor work on your garments? For example, if the sleeves need to be shortened on a RTW Kiton jacket, does it bother you that the changes aren’t made by Kiton tailors? Or if the sides need to be taken in on a RTW T&A shirt, is it less than ideal to have an alteration tailor do the work?

Matthew Mulford

Alan Paine provide some great fitting good quality knitwear similar to some of the items shown in these pictures.

Yu Zhang

I have been there yesterday, that purple sweater is lovely! After this, in the Richard James store I have seen two cloth brand Piacenza and Carnet. I never heard them before. Could you tell me something about these brand? Does them are decent stuff ? Does them as same level as Scabal or Holland & Sherry? What is their advantage? Thank you!

Pieracci Stephan

The Clifford street shop is amazing,shettland sweaters with wonderfull colors , a perfect fit and so many other nice products and fabrics,Emily and Connor are very friendly and miss Audie Charles was so hepfull with a wondering knowledge with me .
I hope to visit again as as possible.

Pieracci Stephan

The Clifford street shop is amazing,shettland sweaters with wonderfull colors , a perfect fit and so many other nice products and fabrics,Emily and Connor are very friendly and miss Audie Charles was so hepfull with a wondering knowledge with me .
I hope to visit again as soon as possible.

fred

it seems that lambswool cable crew neck fits like Purple label cable crew neck ? am i right ?

Merkt

Hi Simon,

I purchased the shawl collar cardigan a while ago. While I love the fit of it, I feel that it needs an additional button. Do you know of a place that can do this well in London? I have never had knitwear altered, so I’m not really sure how possible it is.

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

First of all, thank you for your wonderful website, I’ve only recently came across it and it is wonderful treasure trove of advice and knowledge. I just wanted to know if the A&S online shop was up and running and fully up to date? I ask because I went on it to have a look at some trousers for myself and I saw that it didn’t have an up to date SS 2016 collection even though we’re now in Spring, and the last collection it had was SS 2015. Any idea if that’s an oversight and the collection of clothes on the website is up to date, or would it be better to go to Clifford Street myself and browse? I’d prefer if it could be done online as I’m a wheelchair user and live on a largely inaccessible tube route.

Many thanks if you can help, I’ve sent an email to A&S also, but thought to leave a message here so that I could thank you and tell you to keep up the good work!

Anonymous

Thanks Simon, I’ll make that journey soon, and I’m sure it will be worth it.

KN

hi simon, i’m surprised that you wear an extra small size for the cashmere version. can i ask you what your height and weight are? i’m contemplating ordering a sweater from a&s online and wanted a size-check. feel free to respond directly to my email with this information if that’s better for you.

thank you,
kn

David

I stopped by A&S a couple of weeks ago to have a look at the Shetland sweaters (I really like the look of yours) and was amazed by how big they were. Even the extra-small, and although shorter than you at 5’9”, I have a 41” chest… I found the fit to be definitely on the baggy side. Simon, would you know of any place where I could get a slimmer fit and the same, or similar, fabrics?

Ollie Emberson

Simon, whats your opinion on Berk, Drakes & N Peal in terms of quality?
Being new to Cashmere (Jumpers), it makes me wonder firstly, if the quality is good, secondly which is best out of the above, and thirdly why the pricing is so spaced from say, a Loro Piana fine crew at £790

Sartorius

Not necessarily a valid comparison as the price point is much different, but one of my favourite garments is a Tom Ford shawl collar cardigan. It is made of extremely thick lambswool but is very slim fitting and knitted in a fantastically flattering silhouette.

Dan

Is this the same A&S Shawl-collar cardigan you are wearing in the ‘Which Office Are You?’ photos? This one (the same one I see on the website as of Feb 2017) has a rather plunging neckline, with buttons only starting below the halfway point, but I didn’t notice that on your navy one. I like that it’s short—I have lots of trouble with cardigans of any stripe in that regard.

Derek

My apologies for raising the dead (comment) this Halloween – so you would advise sizing up one for a slightly more relaxed fit on the A&S cardigan? Is the navy worn in those “Sliding Scale of Formality” and “How to Wear Trainers” pictures a Medium, compared to the Small you mentioned far above?

Christopher

Dear Simon,

I was inspired by your shawl collar cardigan by A&S and the way how versatile it can be. My search for a similiar item was not successful in Germany. I know that an online shop is available, but I prefer to try the clothes to avoid a maybe to boxy cut. Today I have discovered a for me unknown manufacturer which is called G.R.P. and is based in Tuscany. They have beatiful shawl collar cardigans with a slim fitting cut and affordable prices. I tried to find more about G.R.P, but there are only a few information available and it seems to be a small poduction with high quality standards. Maybe they are flying under the radar.
Sincerely
Christopher

S

Hello Simon,

Would A&S still be your top recommendation for a Navy Shawl-collar Cardigan? And do you know of a nice one in cashmere?

Thanks a lot!

S

Thanks a lot Simon! I am not that keen on the ribbed style, would you recommend another one? Thanks again!

S

Ah good to know, thank you very much Simon!

Dan

Hi Simon
I’d like to make a question.
I bought the shawl- collard cardigan from A&S in four different colors (blue, green, burgundy and beige) I am really delighted with the garment, fit and style, but I have found a little frustrating the excessive pelling they generate. I think that it may be caused because I’ve bought them on a trip and they’ve been in the suitcase for more than a day (really a bad choice for transport the sweaters, lesson learned). I must also clarify that I have never washed the cardigans yet.
I am a regular reader of your website and numerous times you have advice about this subject indicating that it is essential to wash the cardigans in order to remove the pelling (using a razor doesnt works for me, to risky for the cardigan)
My question is about how I should wash it. Clearly it doesn’t seem to be one of those clothes you throw in the washing machine and nothing else.
I am concern about any special care in order to not alter the shape and softness of the garment.
Thanks in advance,
Dan.

Rishi

Hi Simon,
I have been going through your archive on A&S knitwear and I wondered if you could elaborate on how the A&S ultra-fine cashmere sweater has performed over the years with regular use. I am considering buying one myself (for the first time), but am slightly worried that it may not age that well given its immensely delicate structure. I also note that you have mentioned previously in the PS finest knitwear post that you would not necessarily choose cashmere for fine knitwear, due to its tendency to ‘bobble’. If so, would you be able to suggest any other suitable alternatives in this category of knitwear? Grateful for your thoughts.
Best regards,
Rishi

Nils

I have bought the lambwool shawl-cardigan from A&S in a beautiful green and in size M. Unfortunately, I needed to return it because the chest was too boxy and the cut too short although the quality and feel was great. It is probably fine if you mainly wear high-waisted trousers which I only sometimes do.