The shirt line

The thinking with the shirt here has always been that the shirt should be a simple thing, an unassuming thing; should be the base on which other things — more exuberant things, if they’re your thing — are laid.

The thinking hasn’t changed much this spring, but the boat has been pushed out, here and there — most notably with new linen from a mill on the south coast of Ireland. The jubilance with which this lot weave is evident in their cloth. There’s a melange stuffed with so many hues and spots of colour they’d be innumerable were there not so many, and a stripe of gently daubed double white lines — running widthways, rather than up and down, because of a serendipitous error when the first sample was cut last year. Both are called “tumbled linen”, which serves as a matter-of-fact recital of how the cloth is finished once it leaves the loom, and the best possible connotation of its soft and pliable hand-feel.

Rather soberer is a trio of shirts made with oxford cotton. Oxford, as most will know, is that most trusty of shirtings — and this new stuff, from an old and lint-strewn mill in Lancashire, is as decent and dependable as any cloth can be characterised. There’s the Kelly collar in blue, the button-down in grey, and the granddad collar in stain-magnet white. They’re over here in their standard-bearing and basket-woven glory from today.

Lastly is the desert cotton button-down in blue. Desert cotton was introduced this time last year — a time since which the four-fifths cotton / one-fifth linen material has acquired the presence of an old friend. It is likeable indeed: pleasingly rigid and crisp when brand new — not to mention very thick, at just over 8oz — and becoming softer and softer and softer and softer with each passing wash. The new blue version brings to the fore the slubby, striatic qualities of its unwashed linen warp, and can be found here right now.

Suffice to say that, simple as these shirts are, they are made to a very high standard. Those responsible are a team of people in north London who making nothing but nothing but shirts, all day, every day, and have as you’d expect developed something of a knack for it.