Ever since the effective demise of L.L. Bean as a purveyor of American made goods, those of us striving to find a substitute for Bean’s chamois cloth shirts have been out of luck.
Frannie has one of the old American made versions, which she wears boyfriend style. But yours truly has been out of luck.
A few months ago, I received a marketing e-mail from Criquet Shirts, advertising its new made in Texas chamois cloth shirts. For a little while now, I had taken note of Criquet’s golf and polo shirts, although my affinity for High Cotton’s polo shirts diverted my consumer dollar away from Criquet.
But this was an intriguing proposition.
Had a company really reintroduced chamois cloth shirts, with American made bonafides?
Criquet Shirts was founded in 2010 by Hobson Brown and Billy Nachman. Friends since kindergarten in Manhattan, these two transplanted Austinites set out to recreate the kind of golf shirt that might have had a home in their grandfathers’ closets.
And, this morning, under the Christmas tree, I found their newest handiwork–a forest green chamois shirt–under the tree.
It’s difficult to speak about this shirt without resorting to superlatives. The cotton chamois is sumptuous, more so, in fact, than I remember the original Bean shirts being. The fit is spot on–roomy enough to consider layering but not so baggy as to be unflattering.
I have but one beef with Criquet, and it does not extend to the craftsmanship of their shirts. It’s the nature of their advertising.
This shirt is named the J.R. Shirt, presumably after Dallas arch villain J.R. Ewing. It claims to be “made in Texas for badasses.” Perhaps were a little stodgy here at Classic American Style, but rarely do we yearn to unleash our inner badass.
I find nothing in the shirt reminiscent of J.R. Ewing. They seem more New England than Texas, calling to mind the anonymous “summer millionaire” from Robert Lowell’s Skunk Hour, who “seemed to leap from an L.L. Bean/catalogue…” And for those of us who place a premium on such values as tradition, authenticity and craftsmanship, that’s a thing to be celebrated.