Saturday, December 5, 2020

Chambray Shirt

Chambray Shirt  

Of all the classic menswear fabrics, chambray is a favorite of many, and for good reason.

The origins of chambray fabric are expectedly rather vague – the weaving process is pretty darn generic, and the color choices have been typical and widely used since textiles were first developed.

Some attribute the specific creation to a Jean-Baptiste Cambray, but this history is widely refuted and has no real verified standing. That said, the name itself is likely derived from the term ‘Cambric,’ which refers to the French town of Cambrai, where some of the earlier plain-weave workwear fabrics were heavily produced.

So what exactly is chambray? As mentioned, it has a close relationship to denim, largely in what one could call their defining characteristic – the use of a white horizontal thread in the weave of the fabric (also known as the weft, while the vertical thread is called a warp).

The real beauty of this process shows as the fabrics age and the white weft becomes more and more visible, lending to the beautiful fades so revered by denim-heads and chambray enthusiasts. Even in a brand new piece, the contrasting threads offer a nice texture and visual depth over the relatively flat appearance of poplin.

In the modern era, chambray has seen a proliferation both in appearance and application. Primarily woven in indigo initially, you can now find the fabric in any variety of colors – some will even classify fabrics with colored weft threads (as opposed to white) as chambray, just so long as the warp and weft are two different colors.

These days, while you can always find a classic blue chambray shirt, it’s just as easy to find them in reds and greens and greys, or even woven patterns.

Additionally, though chambray has traditionally been a more casual fabric, the advantage of its aforementioned versatility has encouraged more and more designers to start incorporating the unique textile into formalwear.

While heavy denim is hard to dress up into a formal trouser, a crisp, lightweight chambray will do the trick just fine. And it’s now used for everything from dress shirts to ties to full suits.

As such, if you want chambray in your life, the options are endless, and you’re sure to find something up your alley, whether it’s rugged and casual or sharp and refined.

The Structure of Chambray

If you’ve ever taken a close look at chambray fabric, then you know that it has a signature pattern that gives it an almost heathered appearance. This comes from a colored warp (usually blue) and a white weft in a 1×1 plain weave. The white threads running over the colored threads give the fabric a certain depth, all while maintaining a lighter weight.

Of course, chambray can be woven in different densities, much like denim. Finely made lightweight chambray dress shirts are now more commonplace than they ever were. However, heavier chambray workshirts will always be a hit with people who like a little more heft to their clothing.

How Chambray is Used Today

Chambray is so popular these days that even the “everyman” mall shopper wouldn’t balk at the thought of buying a shirt made from the fabric…even if they mistakenly call it “denim.”

Brands like Bonobos make chambray dress shirts, Momotaro make chambray workshirts, Unbranded and The Hill-Side even makesties out of the fabric. These products don’t only come in the traditional blue, but also a fairly popular red and other shades. It’s safe to say that the storied fabric won’t be going away anytime soon.

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