Can you feel that? Autumn has finally arrived, bringing with it darker days, cold commutes, and a natural instinct to layer as much as humanly possible. But the cool weather is also a fine occasion to return to some of our favourite fabrics, namely flannel—the soft, medium-weight wool that has a napped, fuzzy finish—used for many of our Kit Blake trousers. It was in Wales where flannel was first weaved from wool in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. Flannel (Gwlanen) is a woollen cloth which can be brushed on one or both sides to produce a soft nap. It is believed the present name emerged from a French variation: Flanelle, or the German Flannel, or the English name Flannel came from the aforementioned Welsh ‘gwlanen’ (from gŵlan, Welsh for wool) – regardless of its origins, it’s a firm favourite at Kit Blake and one of our very first cloths we used and have been using ever since.
At Kit Blake, we’re big proponents of flannel, which is why it features among our iconic products. The balance of texture and warmth brings character to the Aleks or the Caine, and allows it to be dressed up or worn in smart-casual settings as you see fit. Indeed, over the past century, flannel has been worn as a sporting fabric as well as a part of Cary Grant’s, Eddie Redmayne’s or Gregory Peck’s—the original Man in the Flannel Suit—own more formal ensembles. Grant, in particular, was a major fan: his charcoal flannel suit from Charade and grey version from North By Northwest are now added to the pantheon of cinematic tailoring, easier and less stuffy than the business-suiting of his time, and much more adaptable to separates should you want to remove the jacket.
It is no surprise that we’ve emphasised using the fabric every autumn-winter season. Our Grant, with its slimmer leg and double pleats, is particularly handsome when styled with a jumper à la To Catch a Thief. On the other hand, our bestselling Aleks has a more classic look that works well with a smart jacket. The flat-fronted Caine shape is a more subtle style of trouser—available in both Mid-Grey and Charcoal flannel—and pairs smartly with a light autumn jacket or a crew-neck jumper. The advantage of flannel is that it adapts to whatever style you’re looking to employ that day, which is why it is favoured over traditional worsted wool that can be more suited to a business environment.
While we always recommend classic grey trousers as an essential, we also suggest including some unique tones in your wardrobe. Our Grant Blue version is a rich alternative to navy that looks immaculate with formal tailoring, while the Olive edition of the Aleks can be paired to perfection with this season’s autumnal palette.
You can, however, get a poor-quality flannel weave – all flannels are certainly not equal. We have been careful to source our materials from the finest, family-run mills in Biella, northern Italy, to ensure that our trousers avoid the traits of sub-standard flannel. Then, they are crafted in Puglia — where we have partnered with expert trouser-making artisans. The extra effort means that our trousers are more tightly woven and do not fray as easily, as well as having a softer, cosier hand to them instead of the stiffness that characterises the low-quality alternatives. Flannel is supposed to be an easy, comfortable fabric. It must also be durable, and the weave should not distort after the slightest tug—something that won’t happen to your Kit Blake trousers.
Instead, our flannel pieces are made to be both stylish and high quality yet remain at our traditional accessible price point. From the villages of Puglia, where families have perfected their craft for generations, to your home—Kit Blake flannel trousers are an essential in every man’s wardrobe.