It starts out harmless enough. You get a proper shirt and you feel ten feet tall every single time you put it on. Never looked this smart in your life. How could it possibly get any better?
At one time for ourselves, as it certainly has been for many others, it was simply about a button down collar. As long as that was present you would be happy with the shirts. But like most things to many of those who follow this website what starts out as a casual interest quickly becomes an all consuming obsession.
I’d liken it to record collecting. Whereas at one time any single on Pama or Trojan might do, you start to notice the little things that make it great. Whether it be the strength of Bunny Lee productions on the Unity label (and ultimately on every label), or whether you prefer Karl Bryan to Roland Alphonso or Tommy McCook you begin to become a bit more discerning.
Shirts are certainly no different. I’m sure many readers can spot a Ben Sherman from a mile away, because of the all important details. This is the beginning of the obsession. Notched V in the sleeve, one button over that notch. Full back pleat. Collar is only worthwhile if you can fit three fingers in.
At some point you realize tight fitting and well fitting are two entirely different things. Understanding the importance of darts, taking that trip to the tailor to make sure it is just right. An attention to detail is everything.
Then it moves on from there. You learn the importance of the collars roll. Start going back on all your old gear, studying the collar intently. What once cut it because of simply being a button down collar now ain’t worth a shit because there is no roll to it.
At one time it was all checks, because that’s what you saw every day. Then you heard about Oxford cloth shirts and stripes. That’s what the original style was, wasn’t it? So you start to track those down. Get a nice collection of them, beautifully preserved collars on the vintage ones. Sharp, cascading collars on the new ones.
When at one time Ben Sherman would only do, being thee skinhead shirt of choice, you pick up on the Ivy League connection to the style. Now Brooks Brothers has become the apple of your eye, the shirt ole Ben nicked his design off of in the first place. It happens to the best of us.
But it was this sort of dedication that our entire subculture is based upon. Not goatees, piercings and hoodies. That has fuck all to do with what we’re about. Realizing the significance of the right collar, the right shade of blue in your shirt, the proper cut. That’s what it’s been about since day one, that’s all it should ever be about.