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The Madras Shirt thread

post #1 of 223
Thread Starter 
Hear ye, Hear ye madras lovers!! This is a thread just for madras shirts (and trousers). Madras shirts are my favourite for spring and summer wear. Short-sleeved shirts are a fantastic choice in place of the ubiquitos polo and they go great with khakis/linen pants. For some reason, they get very little love here and I thought I'd start a thread for Madras shirts. What you see sold today as Madras shirts are actually "evolved madras", if I can call it that. The original madras shirts were actually made of linen-like loosely woven, fine cotton fabric from Madras, India. The shirts were very colorful plaids, stripes and checks. The colors are muted and soft, and the whites are never as bright as the modern madras. Originally, they were all vegetable dyed (that tended to fade and bleed with washing). The cloth is lightweight, airy, printed fabric , loosely woven of short-staple, highly durable cotton. If you have visited that Madras (or chennai as it is called now), you'd know that it is so hot and humid for 9-10 months a year. If you had visited during summer, you'd also know that the temps. routinely hit 105-110F in summer. I know, because I am from Madras (spent 23 years of my life there and still go atleast once an year). The plaids were an expression of India’s fondness for Scottish tartans of regiments occupying India in the 1800’s. The Indians reinterpreted the plaid according to the local color palette. According to AAAC, Ellerton Jette, president of Hathaway shirts found the shirts on a trip to England and introduced the madras plaids in American in the 1930’s. Consumers started retuning the shirts when they discovered that they faded. David Ogilvy, advertising icon, publicized the shirts as "guaranteed to fade". "Magical things happen to this shirt when you wash it", Ogilvy wrote, and the madras shirt and great advertising have been with us since. I know that most of you are thinking about patchwork madras that seems to be everywhere these days. Some of it is done well, but mostly it looks garish and ugly, more so when worn by hipster wannabes. However, you can still get subdued but excellent patchwork madras from certain places if you look hard enough. The famous 'bleeding madras' of yesteryear was really wonderful - sadly they don't make it anymore. By the 60s-70s they had perfected the vegetable dyeing process so that it would not run, but customers actually liked the look (patina?) the shirts took when the colors slightly bled with washing giving the shirt a very nice, lived in look. So they started making shirts that would actually run and fade a little. My father has a bunch of these shirts that he bought in the mid 70s and still wears proudly. I have a few that I stole from him but when I was growing up, we did not see any of this 'bleeding madras' fabric. People have mostly forgotten this beautiful cloth and while you can get very vibrant shirts in great colors in the nice plaids/checks/stripes, they do not bleed or fade, which, to me is a BIG part of the appeal of madras shirts. Brooks brothers Black Fleece line makes some excellent short (and long) sleeved madras shirts that are actually pretty authentic. I own a few of them and like them very much. I have a few NOS shirts from O'connells that I got a few years back and the colors are really beautiful (nothing extreme). The shirts looked fantastic new and even better now. I'll try and take some photos and post them here soon. However, to start things off, here is how the shirts looked when new (from O'connels website): If you have any information to add to this, please add here. Shirt pr0n is also welcome
post #2 of 223
Thread Starter 
Here is a nice source for some great (non-bleeding) madras shirts: http://www.dann-online.com/summer_madras_.htm I am going to try them in spring 2010. Here are a few samples:
post #3 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by srivats View Post
Here is a nice source for some great (non-bleeding) madras shirts:
http://www.dann-online.com/summer_madras_.htm

I am going to try them in spring 2010. Here are a few samples:




Love the bottom row left color. They also have a nice seer-sucker in navy. But hate that everything (with the exception of one) is short-sleeve.
post #4 of 223
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by somatoform View Post
Love the bottom row left color. They also have a nice seer-sucker in navy. But hate that everything (with the exception of one) is short-sleeve.
Madras shirts are traditionally short sleeved, to account for the temperatures they are worn in. Long sleeved will be nice if you can find some! I love wearing short sleeved shirts in summer and spring. But then again, I don't wear a SC everyday.
post #5 of 223
Thread Starter 
Here are some current shirts from J. Press. The colors are good, but the fabric is not. Definitely wearable shirts but they seem to lack the charm of the O'connells ones I posted above. But hey, atleast they try! Note to sellers: Not all plaid shirts are madras shirts!! This is the only one that is good in my eyes, but still not 100% right: Here is an EXCELLENT Lands End article about Madras fabric: http://www.landsend.com/cd/fp/help/0...37091_,00.html Lands End also had a few shirts last year that were excellent. Sadly, I don't see them anymore on the website. I bought two shirts and I am very glad I did. Here is a pic (not mine) from the AAAC WAWN thread:
post #6 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by srivats View Post
Here is a nice source for some great (non-bleeding) madras shirts:
http://www.dann-online.com/summer_madras_.htm

I am going to try them in spring 2010. Here are a few samples:

Great thread srivats!

I tried a Viyalla madras shirt from Dann Online last spring. The fit is VERY large. The "Medium" I tried fit more like an "Extra-Large" I was pretty disappointed with Dann Online's customer service too.
post #7 of 223
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carisbrooke View Post
Great thread srivats!

I tried a Viyalla madras shirt from Dann Online last spring. The fit is VERY large. The "Medium" I tried fit more like an "Extra-Large" I was pretty disappointed with Dann Online's customer service too.

Thanks

Shame abt Dann online - the fabrics looks really cool. I was so hoping to buy from them Do you know of any other sources?
post #8 of 223
I see there are a few Viyella madras shirts on STP for around $30. I'm not sure if the fit is any better than the ones at Dann Online.
post #9 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by srivats View Post
Thanks

Shame abt Dann online - the fabrics looks really cool. I was so hoping to buy from them Do you know of any other sources?

Old-school bleeding madras seems to be almost extinct. The "Raj Madras Short-Sleeve Shirt" at Orvis looks OK. Orvis claims the cloth is "directly from Madras". I don't think it's bleeding madras though.

http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=65A3
post #10 of 223
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by carisbrooke View Post
Old-school bleeding madras seems to be almost extinct. The "Raj Madras Short-Sleeve Shirt" at Orvis looks OK. Orvis claims the cloth is "directly from Madras". I don't think it's bleeding madras though.

http://www.orvis.com/store/product.aspx?pf_id=65A3

Ooh, I like those.

edit: shoulder-to-shoulder is 20.5" and chest is a whopping 48" on a size medium
post #11 of 223
I like Madras for nearly everything...except shirts.




- B
post #12 of 223
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by voxsartoria View Post
I like Madras for nearly everything...except shirts.




- B

Madras the fabric, or Madras the place?

Also,

ps: you can always post pics of your famous madras pants!
post #13 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by srivats View Post
Madras the fabric, or Madras the place?

Also,

The fabric and the curry.

That's right: I like it for ties; jackets; pants...but I don't like it for shirts.


- B
post #14 of 223
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by voxsartoria View Post
The fabric and the curry.

That's right: I like it for ties; jackets; pants...but I don't like it for shirts.

Why ? You think it is too casual?

I can't imagine actual madras fabric for jackets ... Do you have any? Remember, plaid != madras.
post #15 of 223
Quote:
Originally Posted by voxsartoria View Post
The fabric and the curry.

That's right: I like it for ties; jackets; pants...but I don't like it for shirts.


- B


Okay, I agree with this. And as much as I'm not really a huge fan of dry cleaning (I wash my linen Isaia suit in the bathtub), one of the best looks is ancient madras on its thirtieth trip to the dry cleaner.

The madras bow-tie is true old school summertime wear.

As for the curry, well, it's a bludgeon, but who doesn't like a bludgeon now and then?
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