Three RTW trousers compared: Drake’s, Anglo-Italian, Anderson & Sheppard
Readers regularly ask about the best options for quality ready-to-wear trousers, so I thought I’d compare three I own.
They're three brands that will come readily to mind for those seeking trousers in London: Drake’s, Anderson & Sheppard, and Anglo-Italian.
My conclusion - spelt out below - is that there is only minor difference between the three in terms of quality. All three are made in Italy, with similar levels of finishing, and source from similar mills.
In terms of style, there are some bigger differences. The rise and leg line vary slightly, for example. But the biggest difference is the range of styles each brand offers: Anglo-Italian offers one (then MTM), while A&S has 14.
In fact I’d say the most significant thing is probably how the brands vary in what they are trying to offer.
Drake’s is slightly more of a fashion collection: the range of materials and colours is smaller and changes more often.
Anglo-Italian is more static: its trousers cover most classic colours and materials, but the total is still only 15-20 material/colour options, in one fit and one style.
But Anderson & Sheppard is aiming to do everything. It has 14 styles, across several materials/colours in stock, and hundreds made-to-order. It’s trying to provide a full trouser wardrobe, to everyone. But you pay more.
Rise: 26 cm (length including waistband minus inside leg)
Half knee: 24cm
Half hem: 20cm
These are olive Drake’s chinos, two years old. It’s not a colour they currently offer, but the cut is the same: high rise without being on the natural waist, flat fronted and fairly classic in the leg.
Drake’s varies the colours it has each season, although usually things like grey flannels, navy chinos and beige/stone chinos are covered. All the styles have belt loops rather than side fasteners.
Of the three trousers shown, it’s the pair with the lowest rise, and the one that works least well on me from that fit perspective. But of course that’s very personal.
Although far from being a full fashion brand, it’s also fair to say that Drake’s varies its range more than A&S, and a little more than Anglo-Italian.
Last year they introduced selvedge cords, for instance, and have now added more colours. This season they also introduced a new style, the Games Chino, which has a wider leg, high rise, and a single pleat.
This is therefore not an option for those with specific views on cloth or cut. For that you need to go up to made-to-measure (from £450).
Half knee: 23cm
Half hem: 19cm
These are trousers in Anglo-Italian’s ‘shaved cotton’ material. Made by Solbiati, it has a nice matte texture, in a world where most bespoke cottons are rather shiny.
They are relatively slim, in a mid-rise, with side adjustors and a single pleat. All of Anglo’s trousers are this one model.
But there are 17 different colour/material choices, including flannels, corduroys, high-twist wools and peached cottons.
This is therefore a collection that I can see a reader building a full range of trousers out of, to support any blazer or blouson in the top half.
And while there is some variation season-to-season, it’s largely small changes in the type of cloth - eg a new in-house flannel rather than the VBC one offered previously.
The Anglo-Italian waistband has a slightly unusual tab above the fly, but all three trousers vary slightly - with A&S using a metal fastener and the others just buttons, for example.
Personally, I’ve never noticed any difference between the three designs in terms of performance, and whether you want a button on the end of the extended waistband is more a style point.
In terms of general make, all three have everything you want in high-end RTW: neat and precise machine sewing, good-quality hardware, and small points of reinforcement. Anglo just has one difference: a touch of prick stitching on the pockets.
Anderson & Sheppard
Half knee: 23cm
Half hem: 19cm
These cords are in Anderson & Sheppard’s Model 1, which has a flat front, mid-to-high rise and side adjustors.
It is my favourite of the 14 they offer, which encompasses pleats, real high rise, slim legs, gurkha fronts and even drawstring waists. Most of them can be seen in their guide on the website here.
As well as that variation of styles, the trousers come in sizes from 30 to 50, and a big range of fabrics. There are over 600 pairs in the shop.
But, even though I bought this pair ready-made (with a small adjustment to waist and finishing the length), the number of options means there are only a few in each fabric/size. Everything else is made to order (at no extra cost).
That range also comes at a price: Anderson & Sheppard is the most expensive of these three, with cottons £495 and linen £395 (all including VAT).
Effectively the whole offering is priced as MTO, with the aim of providing a service that can quickly provide almost any style of trouser, as the partner to jackets made bespoke around the corner.
As a result it basically sits somewhere between RTW and made to measure (which both Drake’s and Anglo-Italian offer). It basically assumes the fit works well enough for you without MTM, but wants to offer similar style variation.
As an aside, I think the fit of these A&S trousers works best on me of the three brands, but that’s largely body shape. I also think the finish inside is slightly nicer than the other two, but really just in terms of colour and material choice, rather than anything more practical.
In conclusion, all three brands are good options in terms of what readers most often ask about: quality. And they’re all a step above anything on the high street that’s made more cheaply.
Fit is a question of preference and body shape - some will like the slightly higher-rise Anglo-Italian, others will want one of A&S's myriad options.
It may not be so satisfying as a side-by-side review, but the real points of difference here are style and variety.
Photography: Alex Natt @adnatt