Anderson & Sheppard’s rich narrative goes back to 1906, and at the core of that story is the English Drape cut: a now-classic suiting silhouette, that surfaced as a more comfortable alternative to the rigid constraints of military dress early in the 20th century. The appeal of the English Drape is neatly illustrated by one of Savile Row’s most enduring anecdotes. Fred Astaire, when visiting Anderson & Sheppard, would dance around the fitting room with one eye on the surrounding mirrors, monitoring how his suit was responding to his movement and checking that the coat remained flush against his neck.
Several decades on, our garments are still made in such a way that the wearer’s movement has minimal impact on the way the suit behaves. The high armholes, fuller sleeve and the way the collar sits on the back of the neck, allow for plentiful arm rotation, with the jacket always staying doggedly in situ. The shoulders, meanwhile, are soft and natural with minimal padding, ensuring a clean, rounded line. The use of an extremely light canvas (the structuring between a suit’s lining and its main fabric) gives a less structured, more yielding and relaxed look.
Anderson & Sheppard remains the spiritual home of the English Drape to this day, thanks to three key factors. Firstly, the firm’s steadfast commitment to this as our house style. Secondly, our unerring faith in the tailor’s instinct. The same cutter who takes the measurements will cut the customer’s patterns immediately afterwards, so that any idiosyncrasies of proportion and posture are fresh in the memory. And thirdly, the increasingly soft, high-performing fabrics we source, the high-twist yarns of which offer an improved silhouette as well as better comfort, durability and crease resistance.
Characteristic features include a small, high armhole with additional fullness given instead through the sleeve head, a natural shoulder line and a full chest with a distinctive vertical drape. Colin Heywood, Managing Director: “Basically what we like to do is incorporate drape through the chest. We cut a high armhole and what that does is help keep the body of the jacket in position and give you good, free movement. In a sense, it sounds like a contradiction when you say the armhole is high, because customers sometimes think that means it’s going to be restrictive, but it’s not; it actually enables it to fit like a glove. The thing with the drape is that it allows that movement because of the high armhole and it looks elegant as well.”