May 13, 2015

Paper To Product: Edition 208

Madras has more history than most fabrics, first arriving on America's shores in 1718 as part of Yale University's initial endowment. Because our design philosophy is driven by a pursuit to modernize the classics, we've offered our take on madras every summer since we sewed up our first ready-to-wear shirting collection six years ago.

We've refined the madras shirt in a distinctly California way, but that point of view can only be appreciated if you understand the rich background of the fabric. Rather than paraphrasing the excellent and thorough history written by the Gentleman's Gazette, you can check it out here.

Our improvements to the madras focus on fit, construction and color selection.

As madras has traditionally only been offered by more conservative East Coast outfitters, the cut of the shirts has been generous. Unless you get your hands on a madras shirt from the 70's, you may wonder if the folks who don madras come from a long lineage of all-you-can-eat buffets. Our version comes in a trimmer fit with a shorter tail length so it looks great tucked or untucked.

The madras shirt we are offering is possibly the most historically accurate in terms of construction. The plaids on the pocket and the front of the shirt match perfectly, and the shirt is finished with single needle French seams. Back when shirts were made with a little more care, these details would be standard. But if you check out what's currently offered you will see that is no longer the case. Every pocket on our plaid shirts is cut and matched individually with the front of each shirt even though this process requires us to buy much larger quantities of fabric.

Lastly, we have chosen a more subdued color palette that is inspired by naturally occurring colors. Since madras was originally woven with naturally dyed yarns, we feel these plaids stay truer to the origins of the cloth. They steer clear of the brighter versions of the plaid which were originally worn by Ivy Leaguers to signify their expensive vacations.

We know this was a longer tale than we typically share, but we wanted to you to know that we aren't bullshitting when we say we've modernized our cuts in specific styles. When designing and refining modern staples, you can't make improvements on past pieces until you really know the entire history behind them.