The Corduroy Session

November 2022 | Written by Nicholas Sarnella

If Oxford cotton is the unwavering pillar, and Madras the iconic loudmouth within the Ivy pack, then Corduroy is the wild card of the bunch, paradoxically suggesting both a conservative sensibility, as well as an air of nonchalant cool. This paradox and tension has been noted elsewhere in relation to oxford cotton and once again seems to be at the heart of the matter when discussing corduroy; on the one hand it is a traditional fabric with roots in 18th Century England, and on the other hand, at least within the Ivy context, Corduroy is seen at its best when somewhat beaten-up and upon the back of a care-free Jazz musician or Hollywood star of the 1960s. Indeed, John fondly recalls the prominence of corduroy amongst the Ivy-obsessed artists, architects and musicians of New York’s East Village throughout the 1960s, and many noteworthy dressers, such as Paul Newman, Anthony Perkins and Bill Evans, were photographed sporting all manner of Corduroy garments during the Ivy League Boom Years.

Vetra Soft Elk Corduroy Blazer

But what exactly is Corduroy? Corduroy is a textile derived from fustian fabric, which features a raised texture, typically in vertical lines across the garment. These ridges, also known as wales, are achieved by imbuing extra sets of fibre into the base fabric. Available in varying different wales, from a mere wale count of 1.5 to a whopping 21 wales per inch of fabric, corduroy is most typically found in either standard, wide-wale or needlecord iterations. Corduroy is a durable fabric, which ages in a distinct manner; its vertical wales softening and becoming less distinctive over time.

Corduroy was seen in all manner of different garments throughout the Ivy League Boom years, from button down shirts, to Sack Jackets and Natural Shouldered trousers, to the iconic white label Levi’s of the 1960’s, a fact which informs the John Simons collection to this day.

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