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Neither denim nor a classic chambray
Today we take you to the other side of the world, to Japan, to discover a fabric that is a little less known, but definitely worth a visit! At first glance, this shirt may look like a denim shirt given its thickness, texture and colour. However, it is an authentic Japanese selvedge chambray fabric, whose interesting, irregular structure is highly sought after among fabric fanatics.
The main difference between denim and chambray lies in the weave of the cotton. While denim is woven in a very tight twill weave, chambray is obtained in a plain weave. Chambray is therefore lighter, softer and more airy than denim. The typical blended look comes from the fact that in chambray the weft thread, which runs along the width of the fabric, is white or non-dyed and the warp thread, which runs along the length of the fabric, is dyed indigo. Japanese selvedge chambray differs from classic chambray fabrics in its irregularity, which gives it an authentic look: we say konnichiwa to a naturally unique beauty!
Of antique looms and red threads
What makes Japanese chambray so special is the loom on which it is woven. These antique machines, which predate the 1960s, are slower, narrower and more asymmetrical, which is why they have been replaced almost everywhere in the world by more efficient industrial looms with lower fabric costs. But it is precisely this slight asymmetry and slowness that give Japanese chambray its characteristic rough texture. Woven in plain weave with off-white and indigo threads, the result is a slightly mottled effect between shades of blue and grey, depending on the incidence of light.
The term "selvedge" fused from the words "self edge" and refers to the self-finished edges on each side of the fabric. These types of edges secure the fabric to prevent fraying and unraveling. As a distinctive feature, this strengthening edge is traditionally woven with a red thread. On our Selvedge chambray shirt, this characteristic edge runs discreetly along the button placket and can be perceived just below the collar area when buttoned up. On any other shirt, such an edge would be just a detail, but here it is a quality label for an authentic Japanese fabric.
Did someone say work?
The workwear style literally refers to "work clothes" and is largely inspired by the clothing of 19th century American cowboys, lumberjacks and other physically demanding professions. At the end of the Second World War, American soldiers brought the American way of life and the accompanying Selvedge jeans to Japan. The trend was quickly adopted and the demand for denim exploded. Since then, the Japanese have not only perfected the production of denim and chambray fabrics, but also adapted them to the traditional Japanese Wabi Sabi culture. Wabi Sabi is the view of finding beauty in every aspect of imperfection in nature. It could not be more fittingly expressed for a Japanese selvedge chambray fabric.
A job well done with a utility shirt
But one question remains: What about the shirts? After all, the workwear style was not limited to jeans, but gradually spread to other items such as utility jackets, denim jackets, boots and shirts. For the latter, we usually prefer the "raw look" of typical materials and weaves such as flannel or chambray, which are especially suited to the fall and winter. After all, you have to dress warm when working outside! On top of warming properties, a utility shirt should also be durable and comfortable. Chambray is less stiff than denim, making it the ideal fabric for a structured, flexible shirt with workwear character.
A thick chambray fabric
The fabric of our Selvedge shirt was woven in the Japanese partner atelier of the great Italian company Albiate 1830. By the way, to be allowed to use the term "Japanese Chambray", the weaving has to be done exclusively in Japan. So you can be sure that this is an authentic Japanese selvedge shirt!
With a weight of 185 g/m2, the Japanese chambray shirt with mandarin collar is thick enough to be worn alone in autumn or winter, under a jacket or as an overshirt with a T-shirt, further emphasising the workwear style.
The self-finished edge created during weaving, is narrow and tightly woven. The off-white fabric edge is usually fixed with a coloured, traditionally red, thread, also called "redline selvedge". Used in the late 19th century, the coloured edges served to quickly identify the fabric bales of different denim manufacturers. At the time, this thread was red for Levis, yellow for Wrangler and blue or green for Lee. Our chambray shirt comes with a redline selvedge running discreetly along the buttonhole placket.
Eco-friendly buttons on a regular placket
The shirt placket refers to the left front part of a shirt, which goes over the buttons. Basically the one with the holes. There are mainly three types: the French, the hidden and the regular placket. Shirts with a French front show no topstitches, as the shirt fabric is folded and stitched on the inside of the shirt. This gives a very clean look and avoids any distraction when wearing a tie. Thus, the French placket is usually found on a dress shirt. The concealed button placket can be casual or dressy, making a casual shirt more sophisticated or a formal shirt more original, for example. For this chambray utility shirt, we chose the casual regular placket. The topstitching perfectly matches the workwear style, and the mother-of-pearl lookalike buttons are made of eco-friendly plant resin.
From the Chinese military to haute couture
To know more about the history of the Mandarin collar, we need to take a look at Japan's neighbour: China. In the 1950s, Chinese military leader Mao Zedong - or Mao Tse-tung - chose the Mandarin collar as his personal collar, which is why it is also called the Mao collar. At the same time, Zedong forbade the traditional dresses originally adorned with Mandarin collars - qipaos - to be fitted with this short stand-up collar. The Mao collar was therefore worn exclusively on military jackets. However, this iconic collar did come to Europe thanks to famous French créateur Pierre Cardin, who designed suits with the exotic mandarin collar.
A minimalist collar in smart-casual style
The minimalist and modern mandarin collar has many advantages! This simple collar band is worn without any accessories, neither tie nor bow tie. Thus, a shirt with a mao collar definitely has its place in a smart-casual outfit, thanks to its somewhat nonchalant side. The Japanese chambray shirt with Mandarin collar goes wonderfully with a casual look of chinos and sneakers.
Made with love for a traditional craft
The Japanese Selvage chambray shirt is made with the utmost care in our shirt atelier near the Moldovan border. Since 2016, we have entrusted the realisation of our designs to this atelier, which is ISO 9001 and OEKO-TEX SteP certified and has passed on its centuries-old expertise for generations.
The quality pledge of our shirts
As with all our other shirts, quality workmanship is paramount, so that you can enjoy your new garment for years to come. This includes:
- Solid French seams with 7 stitches per cm
- Hem gussets reinforcing the side seams
- Eco-friendly mother-of-pearl lookalike buttons made of vegetal resin, cross-stitched
- And a final horizontal buttonhole to avoid unwanted openings
Simply because everyone wins!
WE, because we bring a product to market in limited quantities. This way we avoid overproduction and costs for increased stock.
YOU, because in return for the slightly longer waiting time, we offer you a special price - thanks to our direct distribution system, the normal price of this japanese chambray shirt is already advantageous compared to an equivalent model from other brands; the reduced pre-sale price makes it a great value staple piece!
The ENVIRONMENT, because by tailoring production to your success, we avoid overproduction and waste of unsold products.
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