After years of relative neglect, trouser design is now receiving proper attention, owing in large part to the general rise in popularity of tailored separates, which make it easier to experiment with more interesting patterns, colours and cuts.
Giorgio Armani has a reputation for wide, multi-pleat trousers, so the brand has a head start. Look at its voluminous, double-pleated, grey linen pair (£470), or the narrower, charcoal double-pleaters (£430), both refined and easy to wear. With a less exaggerated silhouette but just as striking is the canvas/wool version (£535).
Wide-pleated trousers also feature at Zegna, this time in silk/wool-crepe (£790). Both texture and drape are brilliant, and the smart drill finish with pleats and waistband straps reminds me of Bowie’s Thin White Duke. Particularly special are those in ivory, chocolate and navy and the wide, wool-gabardine darted-hem trousers (£790) in navy, tobacco, turquoise and plum.
Another marque playing with volume is Caruso, an Italian brand I rate for its energetic reimagining of the classics. This season it’s on the money with its vintage-inspired linen trousers (£250), which are flatteringly high-waisted and look good with leather braces. Its cotton-linen trousers (£210) have a 1950s preppy-meets-Italian swagger, while its oversized navy cotton offering (£280) is super-relaxed yet stylish.
Also channelling a vintage feel, this time from the 1960s and 1970s, is Boglioli – which has really flexed its style muscle when it comes to colour. Its lime cotton/linen trousers (£220) may be too daring for some, but its indigo pleated turn-ups (£245) have a subtle sophistication and its narrower cotton/linen Prince of Wales-check trousers (£285) look good worn short – ideal for men comfortable with showing a bit of “mankle”.
Narrow trousers that finish short to reveal the ankle are a trend that’s here to stay, and a major proponent of this style is Brunello Cucinelli. Especially smart are the brand’s brown cotton/wool/silk trousers (part of suit, £2,240); camel cotton turn-ups (£430); and a pair (£410) with elastane that have a snug fit.
Venetian trouser label Incotex, meanwhile, has built upon its “only trousers since 1951” tagline with a new range with pleats, external coin pockets and contrast jetted pocket trims in vibrant colours and patterns. Great for summer are the pairs in red gingham (£185), some unusual blue spotted ones (£280), and a cool blue check (£265).
British brands shaking things up include Dunhill, where creative director John Ray has introduced punchy colours, from sage cotton/linen trousers (£420) and bronze cigarette pants (£420) to antique-rose 1960s-influenced cuts (£625) and rich cream ecru cottons (£330). Each takes smart-casual to a new level. Bold dressers may want to pair lively trousers with an equally striking jacket: pistachio twill trousers (£330) with a salmon silk-herringbone blazer (£1,690), for example, or rich tan cotton-linen pants (£420) with a burgundy houndstooth silk/linen jacket (£1,250).
Also of note are E Tautz’s dashing Hainsworth Barathea trousers (£240) in navy or brilliant RAF blue, which creative director Patrick Grant swears by as an alternative to jeans. “The wool is about an ounce or so heavier than our heavy denim,” he says, “so they never really need much of a press.”
And Anderson & Sheppard has introduced some loose linen “slouch” trousers (£350) in colours from navy and cream to fuchsia and leaf green, and will shortly be adding some heavy herringbone textured linens in pastel colours (£370). I also like its chocolate cotton pleated trousers (£465) with an interesting bearer (the waistband tab); higher-waisted styles with a military feel, particularly smart cotton or cavalry twill (£350), which are good for more adventurous dressers; and light wool/linen black-and-white houndstooth-check trousers in both skinny fits and with dapper pleats (£370).