This is the latest in a series of articles we are doing on well-made chinos. You can see the previous articles on a contents page here, and listed on the right of this article (on a desktop). 

Rather than look at one pair that I own, today’s piece rounds up all several Japanese options in one shop. 

This has the disadvantage that I can’t report on wearing and washing a pair myself. But it does mean I can cover a wider range, which might appeal to more readers. We can do the same with other shops in the future if it proves popular. 

 

 

As I’ve talked about before, Clutch has a dizzying array of brands and models, and chinos are no exception. I counted nine brands, often with more than one model each. They vary from fairly slim, modern styles to very wide, high-waisted repros. 

I’ll summarise all of them below, but focus on two in particular – from Soundman and Pherrows – because they fit my personal criteria for a good chino. This has also driven the other inclusions in this series. 

Those criteria are: 

  • Mid-rise (not low on the hips, like most modern trousers; nor real high rise, on the natural waist)
  • A moderate straight leg (not skinny, which is often why brands include elastane; nor super-wide, like those US Army reproductions)

 

 

Soundman

The quality of Soundman is always very good, but the designs can be a little quirky. With these Clarke chinos, the quirks are kept to a minimum but the quality and fit remains very good. 

The rise is fairly high on me – as the pictures illustrate – without going right above the hip bones onto my natural waist. (The kind of rise where, when you sit down, the waistband  digs into your stomach – more on defining rises here.)

There’s also a gentle slope between back and front, which works particularly well on my body shape, and while the leg is fairly wide (all measurements on the Clutch site) it has a nice taper. 

This last point is what saves them from becoming too vintage, too repro. Other brands at Clutch have lovely chinos in many ways – Cushman and Belafonte for example – but they are wide and straight. It’s much more of a look. 

 

 

The only thing I dislike about the Soundman chinos is the double forward-facing pleats, though I know some readers will like those.

The waistband is a touch broader than normal, and has a wide hook fastening at the front. But I don’t mind either of these things, and the wider, bias-cut waistband aids with the great fit. 

The material is a right-hand twill, which as we covered on the Real McCoy’s review, means the cotton is denser and wears better. It’s also more expensive, which is why you tend to find it on the more expensive lines at Clutch and elsewhere. 

That extends to the design details as well, such as the lovely corozo buttons. Other quality things to watch out for are the precision of stitching on the buttonholes, which was something that was surprisingly lacking on a pair I recently tried from 3Sixteen for example. 

Also available in navy, and there are various other styles such as gurkha-tops and shorts. 

 

 

 

Pherrow’s

The Pherrow’s P41M chino is a good example of the lower end of this specialist Japanese market. Still high quality, but more affordable than the Soundman and most other brands. 

It’s also a very accessible style. Flat front, slim leg (by Clutch standards), and quite straight. There are no extraneous design details, and it will both fit most guys and be firmly within their comfort zone. 

For the rather lower price you sacrifice the right-hand twill, but it’s still a nice and hard-wearing cotton. You also lose the corozo buttons in favour of a button fly, and those buttons feel a tiny bit cheap to me. 

 

 

But the finishing is still good, and aspects like strong pocket bags that high-street brands usually forego but quality makers have are all there. 

It’s a good introductory chino, and the kind of thing I’d point readers towards if they’re trading up from Gap or something similar. They’re also available in navy and olive. 

In fact, I should have mentioned at the start that with the chino selections in this series, I’m also interested in finding pale colours that are the most versatile and easy to wear. Not a strong khaki or a really yellow beige, but something pale and muted.

I’ve done quite a few consultation sessions with readers recently, and this comes up time and again – they want one pair of really easy, classic but high-quality chinos in this shade. More than navy, olive or anything else. 

 

 

 

Jelado, Warehouse, Burgos, Cushman

Among the repro style of chinos (as in, more like a straight reproduction of US Army models), the Jelado ‘41 was probably my favourite. A true high rise and wide leg, but with lovely details and a great slubby cotton that’s intended to look like a vintage style. 

The Warehouse 1216 chino is based off the same US Army officer model as the Jelado, but uses a more conventional cotton in a nice right-hand twill (often called a Westpoint cloth). Aside from the wide leg, the only downside to these is they shrink a lot (1.5 inches on the length) so are hard to fit. 

The Burgus Plus 401Z-60 is nice but has a very slim leg. Too slim for me. Perhaps worth a look if you want quality like this but really have a fondness for a close leg line. 

And finally Cushman – which along with Warehouse is another brand to look at for slightly more affordable Japanese makes – does a great ‘41 model, just with that traditional high waist and wide leg. 

All these chinos could be good options for different readers, depending on what style they like, as well as their budget. But for those that have the same priorities as me, I’d recommend looking at Soundman and Pherrow’s first. 

In the images I am wearing a size 34 from Pherrow’s and a size 42 from Soundman. In both cases I sized up a little to get a nice fit on me in the seat and things, and would then alter the waist or use a belt. 

Clothes pictured: Alden full-strap loafers on Aberdeen last, and Bryceland’s Sawtooth, size 40. 

 

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Darren

I enjoyed this article – more of the same please. I really like Soundman, think they produce some very interesting pieces.

Jamie McPherson

I am wearing the same outfit as you today! Soundman Clark chino and a byrceland denim shirt

FB

Thanks this is a really useful article. How would you say the Soundman or Pherrow compare to your Rubato or real McCoys in terms of shape and quality?

Con

Interesting, going by the photo’s on Clutch’s website I would not consider the Soundman chino’s whereas looking at the photos here I would. The side profile helps aswell.

David Bok

I personally love Soundman. I find their clothing to be fun and well-made. I would agree that some of their collection trends toward kitsch or anachronism, but for me clothing should never be taken too seriously. // To add the chino test bed, may I suggest Shockoe Atelier? They currently have their Field Chino in Khaki Selvedge which is a very well-made pair of med-rise chinos, which I think could stand toe-to-toe with the Japanese brands. Shockoe Atelier also offer free lifetime repairs on their garments which is a nice touch.

Ludwig

Hi Simon,
Thanks for this review, which is quite timely for me.
How would you say does Bryceland’s Army Chino compare both in terms of style and quality? I would assume they are more on the traditional, high-waisted and wide end of the spectrum.
Thanks,
Ludwig

Aaron

Useful article, especially knowing you’d recommend Pherrow’s for a step up – will buy a pair when my weight settles.

Charles Clarke

Hmm, it’s a no from me on these. The roll-ups and the creasing looks like you’ve picked up the wrong size. For me, chino’s should be slim, not skinny, and bridge the formal-to-informal dilemma. I think these just don’t look great on you.

Peter Hall

and well done to Clutch Cafe for continuing shipping to the Netherlands.

Alexander

Nice to read that you followed my suggestion with 3Sixteen. The quality overall was not sufficient for your standards I assume? To be honest, I did not look closely at those details of make, since it is a strictly casual garment. I was only looking at fit and cloth.

Alexander

I checked again, and yes: the make on the buttonholes is awful. I would have not described them as low rise. They sit on my hip bone (similar to 501 levis). You are also right about the cut. The fit compromise that I had to make therefore was to size up for my thighs and that now I have to cinch in the waist a little with a belt, which is of course far from ideal. I could have my tailor take in the waist but the little gathering under the belt did not bother me enough to this day because I only wear the chinos with tucked out t-shirts. Clearly an update on my pair is required some time soon. But if you are not willing to pay import fees, finding a decent chino is hard in continental Europe.

Manuel

Thanks for this useful article, Simon. Do you remember if the Burgos is a right-hand twill? That colour seems very useful.

Martin

Any update on this? Would be good to know

Rob

I find the selection of chinos at Rivet & Hide equally bewildering. Lovely, but I don’t know where to start.

Tom

Hi Simon,

When it comes to chinos, would you wear these with a cuff or a plain hem? I tend to wear my dress trousers with turn-ups but these are normally single pleated trousers whereas chinos tend to be flat fronted which I’m not sure whether would make the turn-ups look odd.

Max

Very good article indeed, as always.
I would love a separate article on chino colors, too. It really is a tough business, especially when ordering online. Imho, a greyish sand tone is the most versatile color, while too saturated, greenish or yellowish tones are a lot less easy to pair. Thatˋs why I usually love my oldest, washed-out chinos the most.

Michele

“ The kind of rise where, when you sit down, the waistband digs into your stomach”

I’ve tried to solve this problem by buying 3 successively larger sizes of the same high rise jeans 🌚

Christopher Davies

Thanks for the nice article Simon.
Do you think Incotex chinos are as good as the examples from Clutch?

Christopher Davies

Thanks Simon, very useful to know.

laurie power

Hi Simon,
Would you say that the colour of the Pherrows P41M beige chinos is pale and muted enough for them to be very versatile and easy to use?
Thanks Lorenzo

Russ

Better without the turn-ups IMHO. They ruin an otherwise smart pair of trousers.

Richard W

Hi Simon
Interesting article as always.
I was wondering how you would compare the Pherrows chino with those from Cordings? The Pherrows are a little more expensive and probably more styled in design, but not having seen the Pherrows was unsure over the difference in quality. So, I was curious how you would value the styling and quality differences over cost?

And

The main problem I have with all these Japanese brands is that they cost double (or sometimes triple even) in Europe than they do in Japan. I find it really to justify, even after accounting for duties, taxes, shipping etc – it really feels like resellers are ripping you off.
If only ordering wasn’t so hard from japanese sites, it would literally be less expensive to have items mailed to here and pay import fees myself. And it would also get around the very limited stock they carry (probably in part due to this very article, most model/size combinations are sold out now).

Matty

I feel I should chip in here as I buy regularly online from Japan. I’ve used the Warehouse and Pherrow’s websites as well as a number of resellers including Hinoya (owner of Burgus Plus) and Denimio/Okayama Denim etc and I’ve noticed some items are roughly half the price when bought from Japan but that’s taking into account that I live in Hong Kong where there’s no sales tax/VAT.

Most things are around 40-50% cheaper usually although looking at the Burgus chinos on Hinoya – 970HKD vs 1750HKD from Clutch Cafe so around twice the price. Same goes for Warehouse products – lot 4601 tees are 800HKD at Clutch and 380HKD (minus sales tax) direct from the website.

Cheers,
Matty

Matty

Oh, and Simon makes a good point about stock availability. Items go out of stock very quickly even if you buy directly from the manufacturers website it makes no difference.

I was told that most repro brands produce their clothing once a year towards the end of the year and once it’s gone consumers will have to wait until the following year. It’s why you never see it on sale.

This appears to be true – I noticed the Warehouse website had all of the lot 4601 tees in stock recently and many of the resellers did as well – now they are sold out everywhere. Same goes for the Buzz Rickson sweatshirts and jungle jackets.

Cheers,
Matty

Nick

How does Bryceland’s chino compare to these in terms of cut and quality? Their price are on the steep side but their chino looks lovely

Zy

Thanks for this roundup Simon.

I actually went through something like this a while ago and finally settled on the Warehouse 1082 chino. The cloth is similar to the 1216 it sounds like. It’s sulfur-dyed so was shiny to start, but after one wash it became quite pale and matte. The problems are the same too, however, as it only comes in one length and shrinks a fair bit in length meaning anyone your height or taller will have trouble I imagine.

shem

Hi simon, i think you may already have sized up on the sawtooth but it feels a tad smallish on you in the pictures. I think sizing up one may likely look more congruous with the slouchy/workwear bottoms you are wearing here.

Martin

Great post! I think sweatshirts would be a good topic for a similar one.

Matty

Thanks Simon, enjoyed this.

Simon, did you try on the Burgus Plus 401Z-60 chinos? I’ve been thinking of buying these and was wondering about the size? They seem to run a bit large according to the size charts i’v e seen.

For anyone looking to Japanese repro brands for trousers I would also recommend FOB Factory. I think they are some of the best of the repro brands I’ve tried – they produce some really lovely fabrics and the make is as good as Real McCoys/Buzz Rickson/ Toys McCoy/Warehouse. They tend to be a bit slimmer in the leg though which I prefer.

Another brand worth looking at is UES. Not sure if they’re available in the UK but their website is easy to use and they ship internationally. Again, really interesting fabrics and very well made but they tend to style their clothing on the slimmer side as well so may not be to everyone’s taste.

Cheers,
Matty

AW

My search for the perfect chino continues. I find there is a trade-off between softness and comfort with how well they keep their shape. A softer pair sag at the knees and seat too easily and almost force a wash after a single wear. A pair that hold their shape well can be quite rigid.
Where do this pair fit in the comfort/stiffness spectrum?

AL

Of the many workwear chinos that you have tried or owned, which one is your most preferred / go-to one (excluding the earlier version of the Armoury ones which are no longer available…)?

Ondrej

Hi Simon, what do you think about accuracy of size and/or flexibility of material during long term? For example I buy my ordinary 501s in size W32 for many years. They are always a bit tight in the beginnig, but perfect after several wears. Do you think that W32 (especially Pherrows) would fit as well or should I size up?

Ondrej

Ok, thanks! I might choose a size up, so it could be altered eventually.

Anonymous

Hi Simon
I have been on the Clutch web site.
There are zip fly Burgos plus but the beige is quite dark and not the shade u may like. However I wonder about zip v button fly. I don’t want to go around sewing buttons and all buttons come undone soon or late.
The US army presumably made pants with the aim of expediency and cheapness. I doubt they had quality in mind. So why try to copy these styles?
What do you think of the green colour which these manufactures use? Would u use with navy blazer? I am interested in the Burgus green.
Lastly I really would like to know why some of these pants cost up to £350 . There must be a good reason and it is valuable to know the care and details that go into the garment.

Daniel

It seems that Soundman chinos have very short inseam, according to the size chart. Or is it Clutch’s mistake?

Michael

Is there a gray chino you really like?

Anonymous

In the early days of permanent style I recall you had Incotex from Trunk. They looked pretty good in terms of fit.
I wonder how you rate the Drake chinos in comparison, Marrkt has a couple and I wondered about their value.

Anonymous

Would you say Buzz Rickson is similar quality to The Real McCoy?

Anonymous

On the Clutch website the Jelado is described as left hand twill, yet in the photo it looks to be right hand, Is that just me?

Anonymous

Simon
Marrkt do a lot of Orslow chinos and shirts . Any experience with these?

Shem

Hi simon i think many things have been written and said about khaki chinos and their virtues (versatility etc). I own 3 pairs from the Armoury in different iterations and they are my most worn trousers. I’ve been toying with expending out to olive wide legged chinos and am wondering how they can be worn without looking like cos play. A t shirt and olive chinos makes me look like a soldier. An Oxford shirt up top looks better with the khakis. In my mind the khakis seem much better and more useful than the olives. Perhaps the only way could be a slimmer and dressier olive trouser in cotton could be more useful though its not a route I would like. I’m wondering if you feel that way with olive wide legged chinos given I see you wearing the khakis in most of your write ups

anonymous

simon,
can we be sure that the chinos labelled Made in Japan really are made there? There was some talk of this on a forum, but I forget which one.

Jim

With apologies for the unsolicited proofread, Simon – “…more on defining rises here.” under Soundman doesn’t seem to be hyperlinked. (I hope it’s not just my browser failing to load the page properly…)

On the subject of the content, this article (and the others in the series) have been really informative. From where I’m sitting, you’ve tried a great number of pairs of workwear chinos, but none have comprehensively surpassed your Armory ones that you’ve written about a number of times – would you say that’s fair?

Jim

No problem! And I find this interesting – only because, on paper at least, I would have thought that what you look for in this style of chino (high end material and make but a slim-but-not-skinny cut, etc) would have pretty broad appeal – and so I’d expect there to be more options. Instead there are plenty of the very skinny and low rise, and the full on vintage repro, but not as much as you’d think in the middle. That’s how I see it, anyway,

Matt L

Simon mate it is freezing out here today and my legs are the coldest. What should I look for in cold weather trousers?

Martin

great piece.
what do you do for coats with workwear? M65, duffels and leather blousons feel a touch inauthentic in London. Can a Barbour be used instead?

Anon

Hey Simon,
Do you know whether the Burgos 401s come with a left-hand twill? It would be great to suggest options for different builds of reader – a bit like what you did for the shetlands overview which was amazing. Breaking down which ones are left/hand twill; which pleated, and key measurements for easy comparison like widths and hem openings?

Mark

How would you compare the Pherrow’s chinos to Armoury’s? I think you had previously linked to some pants that were closest to Armoury but I think that link died RIP 🙁

David Borsuk

Chinos USA, where can you find quality chinos in the USA (Atlanta). i have only found Tom Ford military

JE

Hi Simon,

Very good article – thanks for the good overview.

I’m a bit confused on sizing for the Pherrow chinos. You mention having tested a size 34 in Pherrows, which correspond to 41.9 cm in waist measurement. For the Soundman however, which you tried in a size 42, the waist measures 44.5 cm. This is quite the difference – is this a typo on the Pherrows, or did you cinch the Soundman pair?

I am curious as I wanted to order a Pherrows pair, but the waist sizing looks small – basically I’d have to take a 36 or 38 according to the measurements on the webpage (where I usually go for size 34).

Thanks!

JE

No worries, I’ll e-mail them and ask. Thanks anyways, and a happy Easter!

Brian

Hi Simon
I know Iron Heart are better known for their denim but I have just purchased their 12oz regular fit khaki Japanese chinos and they are excellent. The colour is perfect and are offered in both a regular and relaxed fit with waist sizes from 28 to 44 so should cover most people.
They also offer a 9oz selvedge chino in a number of fits too.
It’s my first purchase from IH and couldn’t be more impressed with their customer service. The website is great with really detailed measurements and instant responses in the online chat facility. They also contacted me once order placed with the exact measurements ( to 0.1 of an inch) of the trousers ordered to make sure I was happy with sizing.
I thought they may be worth flagging to other readers.
Cheers, Brian

Brian

Rivet & Hide carry a limited range of Iron Heart, including the 12oz regular chino. IH also welcome visitors ( by appointment I think) at their base near Portsmouth.
The other benefit for taller readers is that their leg lengths are typically 35 -36 inches and can be returned for hemming once happy with overall fit.

PeterHall

Another fan of IH here. I would happily trust their online ordering-it’s excellent and the live help is very good.

in addition to the chinos and jeans, their cotton duck is very good quality (and only cotton).