All I want is a nice shirt. Is that so hard to ask? Apparently so. The high street does not appear to cater for the modern man that wishes to dress like a 1950s labourer. Despite heritage being one of the current watchword of the murky world of ‘men’s fashion’, it’s pretty hard to find a nice work shirt. The obvious choice would be a vintage inspired line such as Levi’s Vintage Clothing. Whilst they’ve got the history and the designs to fall back on, the execution leaves something to be desired. The sizing is all over the place, and for the price, the quality and construction is way off. If you’re going to charge almost £200 for a shirt, it really shouldn’t be the same quality as one you can pick up from Uniqlo. Instead, it seems you either have to buy vintage, or buy Japanese.
Buying vintage is problematic. I would love to be able to go into a shop and pick up a chambray shirt like the one above but it seems unlikely. This kind of thing rarely shows up in London and it’s even rarer for it to come in my size. Luckily, there are loads of Japanese brands pushing reproductions of vintage items. The history of the Japanese’s interest in American vintage is pretty interesting and feeds into the current trends for the whole ‘heritage’ and ‘Made in USA’ type fashion stuff going on. It’s pretty much gone full circle with Americans buying Japanese reproductions of clothing originally made in America for hugely inflated prices. It’s best not to think about it. First world problems and all that.
Anyway, the shirt above from The Real McCoy’s is a good example of the Japanese approach to clothing. The attention to details is astonishing. Triple stitching, selvedge gusset, chain stitching everywhere. Another good example would be Workers. Run by one guy with a crazy collection of vintage workwear and a background in the garment industry, Workers takes the idea of authenticity and runs with it. Shirts are sewn on what look like vintage machines with features based on patents from the turn of the century. What might look like a normal pocket is actually sewn in such a way that the bottom of the pocket isn’t attached to the shirt. This was to give workers somewhere to keep their cigarettes so that the tobacco wouldn’t get damp. In this day and age, this kind of function isn’t required, but without it wouldn’t be truly authentic.
Of course, ordering from Japan can provide problematic. There’s the language barrier to overcome, limited runs, sizing, shrinkage, postage and customs issue. It’s a whole thing. Maybe I should just make my own……….