In sartorial matters, a certain subset of Americans has a penchant for motifs–animal, nautical, sporting and dipsomaniacal–that is simply not replicated in other cultures. It is nigh on impossible to imagine an Englishman roaming the Yorkshire countryside or an Italian traversing the streets of Milan in critter trousers.
Although motif belts have long been part of my wardrobe, many a year has passed since a pair of critter trousers last graced my closet. A few months ago, I set out to remedy that omission.
Bills Khakis, still limping along despite its recent financial difficulties, was blowing out a number of items. Among those were poplin pants in two different motifs: marlin and lobster. The marlin version was available in my size, so I pulled the proverbial trigger.
It’s an ideal summer fabric–a lightweight poplin with a soft hand. The cut, although not identified on the website, is Bills’ M2, which I favor.
After finally getting them cuffed, I wore them for the first time this weekend. These trousers belie any sense of anonymity; wear them and you will be noticed.
It all started, curiously enough, in the worst days of the Great Depression. The year was 1932, and Max Gitman decamped New York to establish a shirt making concern in the heart of Pennsylvania coal country: the Ashland Shirt & Pajama Company.
For 46 years, Ashland produced shirts for other labels on a contract basis. But in 1978, Max’s sons Alfred and Sheldon decided to start selling shirts under their own moniker. Gitman Bros. was born.
Gitman Bros. is today one of the few remaining shirt companies whose manufacturing is accomplished entirely on these shores. I’m particularly taken by its Gitman Vintage division, which combs the company’s archives to resurrect fabrics and designs from its past.
I recently purchased a button down from the Gitman Vintage collection–from Charleston, S.C. retailer Indigo & Cotton, an enterprise that traffics largely in American made goods.
My shirt–a real gem–is fashioned from a lightweight royal blue and pink madras plaid. It has the crispness associated with a lightweight linen, without linen’s proclivity to excessive wrinkling. And while the collar is just a touch shorter than I’d prefer, it’s still longer and more classically shaped than most of the American made button downs out there.
Of note: If you’re considering purchasing one of these shirts from Indigo & Cotton, I recommend that you consult the size chart on the Gitman Vintage website. It’s more accurate than the chart on the Indigo & Cotton site.
Over the Memorial Day weekend, our Instagram account was filled with dozens of patriotic expressions, commemorating those who made the ultimate sacrifice. And while we think the sentiment is admirable, words alone do not convey the full range of our responsibility to the fallen.
We have a deeper responsibility–to ensure the economic viability of the country they gave their lives to serve. And one of the most essential expressions of that responsibility is to purchase goods made by American hands in American communities. To do anything less would be a grave disservice to their sacrifice.
So here I am, decked out in an almost completely American made outfit. Except for the trousers (which are made from British wool), everything here was crafted in the United States: a classic pique polo from Criquet Shirts, a leather tab motif belt from Leather Man Ltd. and a pair of penny loafers from Rancourt.