New menswear brand Acre & Row draws on deep familiarity with classics of the male wardrobe: the hardy work jacket, the over-shirt, the elegantly draped English tailored trouser. It has all the hallmarks of classic menswear but, unlike the traditional stuff, is rendered with a light touch.
The shapes are softer, the colors warmer. Rather than the sharp contrast of navy and white, there are browns and beiges—tones closer to the natural colors of cloth. Instead of the wispy fabrics and tighter fits of Italian casual tailoring, the materials and cuts are resolutely English: generous proportions and hardier fabrics give a real sense of gravity. It’s casual without going continental.
To understand the brand’s unique take, it helps to know how it began. It was quite organic, Dav Sehra, Acre & Row’s founder, tells Robb Report. “I started off thinking about streetwear, not tailoring,” he explains, noting that the breakthrough came from “merging the relaxed and fluid aspects of streetwear with the precision and structure of tailoring.” His goal? “Comfort with a sense of formality.”
Sehra has worked in the fashion business since 2013 and moved into tailoring six years ago. While selling clothes, he started to think seriously about making them, eventually attending night school to learn pattern cutting and garment making from the ground up. When the UK’s first lockdown hit, finding himself with time on his hands, Sehra got to work.
Last summer, he reached out to a local English factory to begin sampling his first ready-to-wear pieces. Regardless of the pandemic’s restrictions, Sehra is committed to having Acre & Row’s garments be painstakingly sourced and produced in small batches, locally.
The UJ001 Utility Jacket exemplifies the brand’s ready-to-wear offering. It has a kind of rough elegance, thanks to its strong, clean lines and hardy cotton canvas. The cut is flattering, even a little sporty, but it’s easy to see the respect for traditional materials and methods. The heavier fabric gives the piece workwear utility but also ensures that it will age gracefully. It’s practical clothing with a classical sensibility.
The second part of Acre & Row’s business is the most traditional: a made-to-measure tailoring service, in which Sehra personally consults with every client before signing off on their order. But for those of us not lucky to live close enough for a personal fitting (and, in a pandemic, even if we do) there is an intriguing third offering. Bridging the gap between traditional made-to-measure and off the peg is what Sehra has christened the “made 4 order” service.
“When I was working for tailoring brands in the past,” he says, “I noticed that there were only four measurements on trousers that needed adjusting or altering.” With a trouser block that can be adjusted by these four dimensions—waist, seat, outside leg and cuff—he can produce personalized garments quickly and efficiently. Better still, it’s simple enough that he can guide clients through the fitting process over Zoom. It’s not aiming to replace traditional bespoke, but promises the ease of ready-to-wear without the fuss of alterations.
The house trouser has a generous fit and comes in a range of richly textured, tonal fabrics. Sehra explains that he favors a classic cut with “a high waistband, more room through the leg, with a tapered hem. Our trousers should feel comfortable without compromising aesthetics.” The “made 4 order” service also offers an overcoat that’s fitted with another four measurements—shoulder width, sleeve length, waist size and back length—to yield a roomy coat that’s flattering when belted but sweeping and even more dramatic when worn open.
Custom or readymade, Acre & Row’s clear love of the English tailoring tradition shines through. Both collections emphasize textiles that are sturdier than what’s often found off the peg. Sehra shows me a robust 11 ounce brushed flannel over-shirt and a pair of trousers made in a gorgeous 14 ounce flannel from esteemed English cloth merchants Dugdale & Co. He’s also keen on all-season cottons, emphasizing their dual role in tailoring and workwear: “I’ve liked cotton for a long time because it ages really well. Think about denim: It tells a story.”
As one of the positive stories to come out of 2020’s horror show, Acre & Row has also debuted at a time when all the old norms are open to question and the need for thoughtful consumption is increasingly clear. Sehra is keenly aware. The urge to create be dependable, workhorse pieces is more than an aesthetic choice. Like his insistence on local, small-batch production, it’s a commitment to sustainability. “I’m trying to create pieces that will stay in the wardrobe for years.”