The best cloths of Spring/Summer 2020 – featuring Anglo-Italian

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The headline news in this season’s round-up is the launch of Anglo-Italian cloth

That’s right, the shop that does MTM tailoring is also selling cloth that customers can take elsewhere to have made. 

The move was spurred, according to Jake [Grantham, co-founder], by the fact that many customers buy from them but also use bespoke tailors - and wanted to use the same cloths Anglo does.

Since it launched in 2017, Anglo has largely developed its own cloths - meaning that the materials you see in their shop aren’t available elsewhere*. And they are quite distinct: traditional patterns in very subdued, matte finishes, with a particular strength in jacketings (perhaps the weakest area among mills). 

It’s an interesting move because it means Anglo is effectively competing with the mills it continues to buy from; and its biggest potential market is other MTM brands, who are also competitors. 

But although this might limit the growth of ‘Anglo-Italian Tessuti’ I don’t think it will stop it working. Customers of tailoring are more used to buying cloth themselves these days, and taking it to the tailor. And top bespoke tailors are unlikely to see Anglo as competition. 

At the moment, 29 tailors have the bunch in their shops, including Sartoria Corcos, The Anthology, Huntsman, Ciccio, WW Chan and Kathryn Sargent - and it’s still early days. (A full list can be requested from Anglo-Italian.)

Otherwise, you can go and see the bunch in the Anglo store in Marylebone, London. And they have sample lengths of each one stored nearby, so you can request one to be brought in. They’re actually shipped from two mills - one in Huddersfield and the other in Prato. (The Prato rather than Biella source is a whole other story.) 

The cloths are available to buy through the Anglo site in units of half a metre - and you can request three swatches for £5.  

But what are the actual cloths like? Why should you buy a length from Anglo, rather than just picking from the standard bunches?

Well, around 90% of them are jacketings. And as I said, in my experience this is an area other mills often fall down. Both Italians and English have a tendency towards too-bright colours and too-strong patterns. 

The obvious exception is tweeds, but the range of good summer or seasonal jacketings is surprisingly small, and often seasonal - only available for a few months.

The Anglo-Italian jacketings cover a range of weights, patterns and colours, while always remaining subtle and classic. 

Indeed, a regular bespoke customer might well feel that they recognise many of these, yet also find they’re difficult to source in reality. A big brown Prince of Wales with red overcheck; a deep olive with brown windowpane; a caramel-and-brown barleycorn: none of these are unusual, but they’re actually rarely available, and when they are it’s only buried among bright blues. 

The taste level of the Anglo bunch, in other words, is very high and very suited to PS readers. 

They will find that much of it is reminiscent of Ralph Lauren as well, but then Jake is happy to admit the inspiration - and those Ralph bunches you see in-store are usually exclusive, so unavailable unless you want Purple Label MTM. 

AIT 057
AIT 062

The most distinctive thing about the style of the bunch, probably, is the dull, matte finish.

There is nothing here with even the merest suggestion of shine. Even the summer weights are matte and deep - which is particularly welcome, as it’s where most others are especially shiny and bright. I’d pick out 057 and 062 as some of the best there. 

Apparently there is a particular finishing routine that all the cloths go through, to achieve this, which is why it is the most obvious thing that unites them. 

Another distinctive element is checks that are so subtle, they’re basically invisible. Cloth 004 has a blue overcheck that’s deliberately put over the check itself, rather than in between, so it’s less visible. And there’s a good chance you could wear 035 and never even realise it has a check. 

Personally this appeals less to me as a design choice, but I’d still always prefer the checks to err on the side of faint rather than bold. Most mills go too far the other way. If nothing else, it’s easier and more exciting to sell.

There are several other things about the Anglo collection to like. 

One is that the swatches clearly state whether the cloth is intended for a trouser, jacket, a suit, or some combination. Given how many readers ask about weave density of high-twist wools, and which work for jackets, this guidance could be useful. 

Second, the whole bunch is extremely wearable. This was deliberate: the jackets are largely dark enough, and narrow enough in colour range, to all go with a small range of trousers - in perhaps khaki, grey and green. 

And last, there are some labelled as ‘transitional’ fabrics.

In a temperate country like the UK, these are easier to wear than most tweeds or linens. The only jacketings that are really three-season. 

My favourite among those is 070, which is also notable for being a wool/cotton blend (never any silk, helping with the lack of shine) with some polyamide added for strength. I tend to dislike synthetics, but more out of wariness than anything else (see interview with Mike Stoll recently). I trust Anglo that the polyamide is here for strength and nothing else. 

AIT 035
AIT 070

Given this focus on Anglo, the round-up of other Spring/Summer seasonal fabrics will be very brief this time, but I would quickly highlight:

 

Loro Piana N705002 and N705003  

A welcome return for my two favourite colour combinations/patterns for summer, from Loro Piana, and a surprisingly appealing bright yellow.

Loro Piana 705002
Loro Piana 705003
Loro Piana 705030

 

Caccioppoli 300224 and 300201

The first is a really intriguing brown (if I don’t use this can someone else please? I really want to see how it makes up); and the second a bold summer suit.

Caccioppoli 300224
Caccioppoli 300201

 

Harrison's SpringRam 

The meaty high-twist of SpringRam is great for English-weather suits, and the bunch was reissued in February with a whole range of new colours, and several Prince of Wales checks.

I particularly like the two new green shades, 98271 and 98272, and 98269 among the checks. 

SpringRam 98272
SpringRam 98271
SpringRam 98269

 

*In fact, this is a significant difference between different MTM companies, and one we don’t focus on much. For example, Stoffa largely uses its own cloths, whereas Saman Amel largely uses bunches. That means the Stoffa ones are exclusive, but sometimes also narrower. There’s more of a design angle. 

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StuartR

Would the brown Caccioppoli work for trousers do you think?

Alex

Hi Simon – sorry to dig out the archives here but I’m about to order an unlined summer suit in this very caccipoli brown fabric 300224. I’m a bit concerned by your comment above, would it not be advised to make a full suit out of it? Thanks, Alex.

Anonymous

Absolutely love the bunch and the work form Jake. The launch of their own cloth is particularly nice to customers that are not in UK as it is rather risky to get a rtw , running a risk of buying a unfitted jacket. I love the winter cloth a lot but admit that the summer bunch do distinguish themselves from what’s available in the market. The finishing is quite unique to me too, and I have commissioned a linen jacket and a transitional one. Can’t wait for the finished piece.

Anonymous

I very much like the 057, and it prompted me to visit the AI website for the first time.

They have some nice looking products, but I scratch my head a bit as to who would buy a RTW linen jacket for £1250. My bespoke tailor is making me a Lisburn linen with virtually no shoulder padding and gossamer light canvas for <£1k.

Anonymous

So I will keep the name of my tailor a secret then! I might buy a length of the 057 and give it to him to make up though, as I think it would look rather nice.

E L

I think this sentiment should be called out on this site way more often. People should not keep their tailors a secret unless the tailor wants it that way. Indeed, people shouldn’t keep any source of clothing–store, tailor, shoemaker, etc.–a secret. Store, tailors, etc. are businesses. They need people to buy things from them to survive and do well. Keeping your tailor “a secret” is incredibly selfish as it only benefits you: it harms the tailor, the tailor’s family, people who work for the tailor, and other potential customers. If you have good things to say about a tailor, say it; doing so is the best way to make sure that tailor can continue to provide the service you so much appreciate.

Now, of course I recognize that very few will have access to most tailors, but some still will.

TL;DR: If you care about the well-being of your tailor, his family, the people who work for him, and his ability to provide the product you appreciate, don’t keep him a secret. The same goes for stores, and other artisans etc.

Anonymous

EL I get your point but think you are pontificating a little. It is not incredibly selfish at all. My tailor hasn’t taken a new client for many years as his current clients give him more than enough work. It is his choice.

Had I named him it would be incredibly tactless.

Thanks

E L

1. If he hasn’t taken a client for years, then why the need to keep him a secret? Either he will refuse the new clients, or–if he likes–take them on.

2. Sure: many tailors can more than support themselves. But, I think the tailors know their finances best and we should leave it to them to decide whether to take on new clients, rather than taking the paternalistic option of deciding for them.

3. I think the whole idea of keeping your tailor a secret is one of those outdated stodgier elements of the tailoring world that benefits no one.

4. More on the topic of the article, Anglo-Italian has wonderful tastes in both palette and cloth. All of their offerings go together quite well and look quite good. There is a certain coherence to their look that is missing from many stores and brands. Moreover, their clothing is highly wearable as it is easy to match with other things and easy to wear without turning too many heads–all while looking quite nice. Every element of what they offer–from their ties, to their cloth, to their knitwear–is well thought out and unique to them. Now, if only they made the hems on their pants a bit wider, so they would fit over my calves…

Anonymous

E L

He doesn’t want any publicity. Simple as that. Not paternalistic at all. Just respectful.

Anonymous

Go on, tell us!

AJ

There are a few though, including a couple you’ve featured on PS. I have a sports jacket from The Anthology, which cost roughly £850 and I’m very pleased with.

David

Schofield and Smith does great summer fabrics. You should look at it.

DE

Hi Simon, some interesting suggestions here. I notice that Fox Brothers have been pushing their Fox Air fabrics on social media. How do you rate this cloth – at 285g to 315g is it suitable for Summer use?

Willem

Hi everyone

in the spirit of spring and summer can I ask if anyone has any advice on good menswear stores in Johannesburg, South Africa?

I relocated here for work and find it impossible to shop. None of the brands I used to buy ship here, or if they do it takes months (!) for anything to arrive. The usual big fashion brands (Gucci etc.) do have locations here of course but I‘m rather looking for the likes of a Pauw/Drakes/PWVC/Edward Green…

Any advice great appreciated

Anonymous

How much is the AI MTM service?

Joel

Hey Simon,

Any thoughts on the Spring Ram 98274 navy hopsack. I am trying to nail down a good hopsack for a blazer.

Thanks!

Joel

Thanks Simon,

Honestly, I have never heard of such. Any other hopsacks you could recommend?

Mike

You say: “Well, around 90% of them are jacketings.” Maybe a stupid question, but what are ‘jacketings’? I would think you are referring to fabrics for jackets, but most fabrics shown on their web site are not limited to jackets at all. Also, are most mills not focused on fabrics for jackets?

Anonymous

Simon what’s your opinion of Harrisons Flannels 39362; 14/15 oz as a staple mid-grey trouser selection?

Anonymous

Simon would the Spring ram greens would be good for a staple hot California summer trouser?

The green cloth breaks down to 100% Wool, 55% British Cheviot. What’s the temperature difference between this makeup and the linen/cotton you usually advocate for summer?

Anonymous

What two shades of grey would you choose for any high twist wool Simon? Light grey, mid-grey, charcoal?

For example Spring Ram 98262 and 98264? Or other shades that are lighter/darker?

Fred Thursday

Simon, the Anglo-Italian fabric looks great, but I have two questions: (1) the weight of the line, 460-480 grams, doesn’t that defeat the purpose of wearing it in summer. Seems too heavy. (2) I am seeing a lot of fabric identified as “AW”. I assume this is autumn/winter, right?

Fred Thursday

Yes, I am sorry. I was reviewing all of the Anglo-Italian fabrics and could not understand why the linen was so heavy. Since I am from the Southern U.S. and vacation in Italy, perhaps the A-I fabric is not suited for the climates I live/travel in. Do you recommend a source more suited for those climes? VBC perhaps?

Anonymous

Do you like foster and Son small leather goods and bags Simon?

Luis

Hi Simon,
Thank you for yet another relevant, insightful, and very useful article.
I have examined AI’s cloth collection on their website and I just love it.
In fact I am even contemplating the possibility of buying a piece of cloth from them to have a spring/summer jacket made in a tailor, but not knowing much about the provenance of the cloth I don’t really know how good of a buy I would be making.
For me buying anything bespoke is a significant investment, I want every piece to age well and last for many years, and therefore I can’t really afford to make mistakes in that which concerns cloth selection.
So I would like to ask you this: how would you rate AI cloths’ quality in comparison to the quality of the cloths from the well known mills that you often present us here on PS?
Thank you once again for your unwavering patience and generosity to guide us with your advice!

Max

Simon, would the SpringRam 98269 be suitable for a sports jacket? I’m struggling to find a subtle Glen Check and this seems to fit the bill but as a high twist I think this might be more of a suit cloth.

Tobi

Hello Simon,
I’m curious what you think of Anglo Italians 069 navy twill fabric, if you’ve seen it.
They list it as appropriate for jackets, trousers and suits — and it’s a “transitional fabric” weight. I’d be looking at it for a suit that can maybe be worn as separates. The blazer they make from it is also worn with jeans.
It almost seems too good to be true. And i’m a little skeptical of it since it’s a wool/cotton mix. But maybe i’m just trying to do much to begin with.
T

Bilal

Hello Simon, I understand that sometimes a small amount of polymade is added to give extra strength to the fabric. From your experience, does this cause any drawbacks for jackets in the long term?

Justin

Hi Simon- any plans on doing a ‘best cloths of autumn/winter 2021’ post? I’m preparing for a winter jacket commission and these posts are always very informative. Thanks!

Nick

I was actually looking forward to one of those as well. I suppose some posts just don’t lend themselves for ample commenting but it doesn’t mean that they aren’t useful.

John

Just to add that i too find these articles really useful. Not so much in terms of buying the specific cloths (compared to winter/summer ‘top 10’ articles) as it is not cheap to commission a jacket and not something i would do quickly enough before the cloth is out of stock.

However, i do find them extremely helpful as a resource for when i am deciding which cloths to choose, and for determining what i should be thinking about. Indeed, i only considered a jacket in a summer weight cloth for the first time this weekend, and both the article and comments were helpful in directing my thinking.

J

+1
What I would also like is a post on e.g. five “standard/beginners” cloths like a good and sturdy navy twill in a decent weight for a business suit, basic flannel, fresco etc. from your perspective. That recommendations could be really useful for everyone lost in all the options offered…