Sunday, 1st July 2018
These new buttons — they are quite like the old buttons, which have been in constant and almost exclusive circulation here for nearly a decade. And that’s part of the plan: continuity is a serious business.
They’re not better than the existing ones. Not at all. But they do have a few unique benefits. Most notable of these is that these new buttons have a shank — a brass pin, that is, which skewers them down the centre — and they thus don’t have any holes. And, hence, they’re arguably more minimal when attached to a garment. The shank, about half a centimetre in length, also makes things easier to fasten, and is especially handy on thicker materials, such as almost everything which is lined up for autumn and winter.
The new buttons are made with horn even more matted than ever — a few more tumbles in the pumice drum — and are then varnished to soften their feel still further. Shape-wise, they are fuller in the belly. Only slightly: a couple of millimetres in depth. This, plus the softer finish, means that they feel better: you get a better sense of grip when you grab ’em.
And back to that shank. It opens up a world of new possibilities. These buttons have an optional attachable metal ring, see, which when used like magic turns them into butcher’s buttons — i.e. where the button isn’t sewn onto the garment, but rather popped through an eyelet, and the ring at the back holding them in place. You can therefore remove them — for instance, when you want to wash the garment, but keep the buttons pristine. Such was the habit back in the day, presumably, for the eponymous butchers, who didn’t wish to subject the smart, shiny buttons on their bloodstained overalls to the nightly boil-wash.
These new buttons are in fact already on some shirts, and will start to appear on coats, jackets, trousers, etc. — in standard and ringed form — as summer gives way to autumn.