Know Your Shirts Better
Cotton is the king of fabrics and a choice of fabric for formal business shirts. Cotton varieties that are available across the world are so wide that it is grossly unfair to club them together. For a beginner it is important to know that there are four different types of cotton breeds.
1. Gossypium Hirsutum – almost 90% of the world’ cotton – short staple generally – found across USA, Mexico, Egypt, India and China
2. Gossypium Herbaceum – very similar to Gossypium Hirsutum but normally found in Asia (India and China).
3. Gossypium Barbadense – The long and extra long staple cotton – rare and typical only in certain type of climate and soil conditions – Barbados in the West Indies and only in specific areas of Nile Valley Delta in Egypt – Very fine micronaire, low trash content, very high reflectance and silk like feel with natural lustre – usually hand-picked and relatively very expensive cotton and very typically grown for the world’ exclusive fabric mills who prefer to work only at the higher end of fabrics
4. Gossypium Arboreum – Tree cotton, native to southern Asia – seldom used for shirting fabrics
So the next time when you hear on cotton fabrics, you will want to know more than just 100% cotton. The finest fabrics are possible only with the best ELS fibres(Gossypium Barbadense) which have very high degree of uniformity(near perfect cylindrical shape as they occur in nature) and low micronaire (as low as 2.95 with high strength), low trash content, high reflectance are processed by the finest mills. The mills and their process capabilities vary depending on the kind of cotton fibre they process and the markets they cater to. The more common(99% mills around the world) are busy catering to the volume products and process the common fibres called generally upland cotton (Gossypium Hirsutum and Gossypium Herbaceum). The processes involved including dyeing and finishing are far less exacting than those mills that are keen to make the best out of the finest cotton fibres. It is this reason that it is important for the best fibres to be processed in mills that appreciate and add further value by intricate dyeing and finishing process. Finer count fabrics from a mill typically engaged in mass market fibres will be distinctly different from the finer count fabrics produced by an Albini, Thomas Mason, Tessitura Monti, Testa, Soktas or Alumo who specialise in fine fabrics. The treatment of the fabrics is never the same.
We understand this difference well at Signatario and make conscious efforts to work only with the finest mills and go no lower than 120 thread counts for our shirts to ensure the experience and quality remains a clear benchmark. The vivid colours, natural lustre and silky feel are visible through the life of the fabric.
Shirts have been in plenty and there is no dearth of very large brands who seek the world as their customer trying to mass produce dress shirts for men. The attributes of the shirt as defined by each brand varies to good extent depending on the kind of market one seeks. The wider the market the more critical is the focus of the brand on cost and price and as a consequence compromises on attributes in the name of optimisation is common.
Bespoke tailoring is all about skill and craftsmanship and remains a choice at the highest end of luxury brands. The other extreme is contract manufactured by brands in cheaper factories largely optimising on fabrics, features, standards and labour costs. Signatario shirts are straddled in a space where we pride in making luxury essentials. Our standards are closer to the top luxury brands and we strive to nudge ever closer. We blend automation for quality and consistency with traditional shirt crafting skills while making our shirts. Our customers seek the finest standards and quality as much as luxury brands while we deliver it disruptively through a channel with minimal intermediaries.
Some of the most critical areas of shirt crafting are – art of making a good collar, laying the fabric right for maximum comfort, workmanship to ensure seams are almost invisible and patterns get enhanced in the way they are matched all through. All this in a very repeatable and consistent manner brings high quality automated machines to the fore. At Signatario, you can be assured of all of the above
The pride of a shirt is held by an upright and firm collar. It is surprising but very rare to find a well made collar if you look around. Most collars are dropping and wrinkled from inside. These are classic symptoms of using inferior interlinings, poor understanding and estimation of effects of heat and pressure during the curing process. The best interlinings in the world are generally unbeatable by the cheaper competitors – the qualities of resin, the consistency of application of resin on the base are critical for the curing process. The compatibility to the fabric in use is understood well by good craftsmen and ensures just right allowances for expansion. Together with the right temperature and pressure, the collar is just the perfect kind one wants to see.
Weaves are intricate in fabrics and sometimes the seams necessary to hold the pieces of the shirt can become a necessary evil coming in the way of the appearance of the shirt. Great shirt makers ensure that the seams are nearly invisible by choosing very fine threads to match the yarns in the fabric and a high number of stitches per inch. Every Signatario shirt works on 150/180 ticket threads with over 19 stitches per inch so that the seams literally blend into the fabric making them near invisible.
Split Yoke Shoulder
The best shirts world over begin by laying the fabric in a direction that allows the ease of movement for the wearer. The key idea is to ensure that the fabric must not be stretched diagonally and it is best when laid in such a way that arm movements are along the direction of yarn weave. A split yoke shoulder on every Signatario Shirt is a result of perfect craftsmanship. The meticulous matching of intricate patterns and laying of the fabric ensures a perfect blend of art and science. Just like a car differential, the four piece Split yoke shoulder ensures that movement effect of arms is isolated from each other. So that you do not have the uncomfortable tug under your arms or try hard to keep pulling the ever rising sleeve of your shirt from under your jacket
A well finished button hole on a shirt is a treat to the eyes as you move them across the shirt. Most factories across the world tend to work with manual machines to finish button holes which make every hole distinct and different from each other. The best shirt makers work with modern computerized machines that give you the exact and same look and finish in every hole.