Originally Posted by The Thin Man
I guess what I'm confused about is that a variety of respected current or former members have identified chambray as a good fabric for shirts you would wear in nonformal business settings. It seemed like there was a growing consensus around chambray as a lighter-wearing alternative to oxford cloth. Was it always a myth that chambray (distinct from a standard end-on-end) could serve as a good tailored-clothing fabric?
This is what I think happened.
Myself, and many others, didn't realize that chambray is structurally and materially no different from end-on-end. Meanwhile, Simonnot Godard was known to produce a chambray with singularly distinct aesthetic and tactile qualities. Namely, it has a mottled coloration and a slightly hairy nap. We confused those qualities for being related to the shirting being chambray.
However, it turns out that chambray--including that produced by Simonnot Godard--is really no different from a plain-woven end-on-end where the warp is all one color and the weft is white. Hence, it's the yarns used by Simonnot Godard that distinguish their version of chambray. They are single-ply, large diameter, and unevenly dyed. Combined with a somewhat irregular weave, that's how you get the mottled, variegated coloration. When you look up close, you can see that the individual fibers of the yarns are breaking free. That's where the hairy nap comes from. Neither of those two features are typically desirable in nice shirting. Just the opposite, actually. So, the question becomes (at least to my mind): if you still want those qualities, why pay a huge premium when they are more common on much cheaper fabrics? Perhaps the only reason we thought Simonnot Godard's "old" chambray is so special was simply because it is atypical for fine shirting, not because it is broadly unique. That their current version of the "old" chambray is 20% polyester only makes things look more ridiculous.
Still, the Simonnot Godard chambray is supposedly special in one other respect: the yarns are said be high-twist, as in fresco suiting, making it crisp and keeping it from sticking to your skin as much. I don't know if that's really true, though my order of "new" chambray certainly has a dry hand. In any event, I don't think the shirting's crispness is what people are chiefly interested in.