It seems crazy to open a brick-and-mortar in today’s retail environment, but Jake Grantham and Alex Pirounis recently took their chances with their new store, Anglo Italian. It’s located in the Marylebone area of London, a small residential district mostly characterized by its Georgian townhouses. As Mayfair rents have increased, a lot of commerce has moved to districts such as this one. This is the same neighborhood where you’ll find Trunk Clothiers, English Cut, and Monocle’s offices.
The name Anglo Italian obviously reflects the shop’s aesthetics – a somewhat modernized version of a mid-century style, when the Italians used to look to the English for their cues – but it’s also reflective of Jake and Alex’s personal backgrounds. Jake, a native Londoner, worked for a while on Savile Row and then Drake’s. Alex, on the other hand, was born in Biella, Italy, and got his start at Kiton (his father, incidentally, has also worked at Loro Piana and Zegna his whole life). Both met when they were employees at The Armoury, which is how most readers probably know them. Their faces have shown up often on style blogs.
When I spoke to Jake this past May, just a few weeks before the store’s opening, I asked him if he was worried about the apparent slowdown in Italian tailoring. It seems forever ago when people were obsessed with Neapolitan shoulders and unstrapped double monks. The landscape today for men’s style is a lot more decentralized – with people dabbling in designer clothing, streetwear, workwear, and classic tailoring.
As Jake sees it, tailoring will always be relevant, if only because everyone needs a good suit for formal occasions. And so long as suits and sport coats will be around, so will Italian style. Its softness brings relevance in an increasingly casual world.
“If you’re trying to sell big bellied, double-breasted suits in bright blue, as well as a collection of bracelets to go with them, then yes, I don’t think that smart. But when it comes to classic, soft tailoring, we’ve worked with tailors such as Liverano and Panico for years when we were at The Armoury. With them, you realize these guys have done it for so long – trends have come and gone, come and gone – and they’re still some of the best-dressed people around. Just because Italian tailoring has had its day on the internet doesn’t mean there aren’t people who want to dress with a soft shoulder. Suits exist outside of these bubbles.”
At Anglo Italian, you can find both ready-to-wear and made-to-measure suits and sport coats. The clothes are made in Naples with a high-level of handwork – the lapels are hand padded; armholes hand sewn; lining hand attached; buttonholes handmade. Style wise, the shoulders are soft and sloping, as you’d expect, with jackets featuring slightly lowered buttoning points, which elongate the lapel line and give the silhouette a youthful feel. Jake also tells me the shoulders are slightly extended and the chest full. Not enough to be described as draped, as you’d find on an Anderson & Sheppard jacket, but full enough to give the chest a “touch of bounce.”
Interestingly, Anglo Italian extends the haircloth from the chest to the hem. Steed does the same with their jackets (although Anderson & Sheppard doesn’t). I find this makes the jackets a little heavier, but it allows the skirt to have a bit more shape.
The marketing and presentation for Anglo Italian is very inspired by the 1950s, but it’s more about the spirit than aesthetics. Everything here feels very contemporary, even if the clothes often come in those dusty pinks, blues, and greens that we associate with mid-century modernism. Jake says he cringes when when he sees people make clothes that feel like they belong in another era. “Tailoring is having a hard time, so it has to work to stay relevant,” he says.
In that spirit, they also have a full line of casualwear. The pieces are still classic, but they’re designed in way that doesn’t feel overly referential. Their suede bomber jackets, for example, are made with a flip-back college collar, raglan sleeves, and a button front. It’s something like a midcentury varsity jacket meets an early-century A-1 bomber, but citified in a way that makes it easy to wear with polos and jeans.
They also have slim cut chinos made with a higher rise (a rare combination nowadays). One model comes in five colors of their lighter weight 9oz cottons; another made from two-percent poly-blend fabric, so the slimmer leg won’t bag at the knees. For knitwear, they have high-throated crewnecks in a cotton-cashmere blend – one ribbed, the other plain. “We like our jackets to be made from heavier, heftier fabrics,” says Jake. “We also like our chinos to be a bit beaten up, so we didn’t think really fine knitwear worked for us. Our sweaters are designed to wear a bit warmer.”
The most impressive aspect of the business is the scale. Right out of the gate, Jake and Alex not only put together a full menswear line – going from suits to casualwear – they also built a brick-and-mortar in one of the most competitive cities in the world. And just last week, they opened their online shop. Prices, surprisingly, are relatively good for what they’re selling. Sport coats and bomber jackets are about £1,000; suits £1,300; tailored trousers £300. For readers outside the European Union, subtract 20% for VAT, and you have some really competitive prices.
As for why they would open a brick-and-mortar in today’s age, Jake says: “We wanted to do something with integrity, so it had to be about the product, environment, and experience. It’s about the full package and being able to show people a tangible representation of our world. We’ve put a lot of work into the shop’s presentation. For example, all of our fixtures float – they’re attached to the wall in a way so there’s no vertical line. The intention is, we can move away from the very old and wooden aesthetic you see on Savile Row, so everything feels more ethereal and free. You can’t really achieve that on a website.” Sitting here in San Francisco, I wish I could visit.