The Soft Roll Project: Update

Words by: Andrew Williams


Long time readers may remember it’s been my ambition to start producing a few clothes under my own label. Every season I struggle to find certain items, but without the money to get all my clothes made for me I’ve decided this is the only answer. I’ve settled on a name for the label, and the clothes will be classically inspired, hard to find, limited edition items of good quality all sold at a fair price.

The first item I want to produce is a proper soft roll collar button down shirt, the kind that unofficial Ivy League archivist G. Bruce Boyer regularly waxes lyrical about. I’m yet to find a shirt with a proper soft roll at a reasonable price – lower than £100 – and this seemed a worthy first project.

Well, last week I met the manufacturer for my shirts and we discussed how we might go about this collaborative project. Each shirt will be:

-Made to order, within the European Union, by a shirt making family with a proud history and over two generations of experience behind it;

-Hand cut;

-Individually made by one artisan;

-Available in short, regular and medium sleeve lengths;

-Available in three colours: white, blue and pink;

-Of high quality 2-fold cotton from some of Europe’s finest mills

And provided my maths is sound I should be able to retail this for under £50. This would allow me to satisfy my other criterion that the shirt should be an affordable price, and like the originals accessible to both the banker and the student. Because each shirt is made to order the make time is 5 weeks, but this is also how I’m able to bring it in for such a reasonable price; reasonable when you consider plenty of labels charge a lot more for a lot less and still don’t deliver a guaranteed soft roll collar.

My manufacturer is currently working up samples which will allow us to experiment with the collar to get it just right.

With regard to stylistic points, the shirt will be in keeping with the original soft roll button downs by being closer to a regular cut rather than a slim fit – whose day is done I think. It will have button cuffs of course, a proper box pleat and a back button on the collar. I’ve decided against having a pocket, but all going well I will offer a double pocket version to be called the weekender at a later date.

And the name of this shirt, ‘Brooks was here’.