La chemise oxford, 8ème merveille du monde

The Oxford shirt, the 8th wonder of the world.

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Who said perfection doesn't exist?

Attention, monument. The piece we present to you today is not only one of the first we produced at Hast; it also counts (and above all) among the Immortals that have joined the Pantheon of men's clothing. A true legend of the wardrobe, it has stood by men for over 120 years with the same panache and nonchalance, making it one of the most iconic ever created.

In this article, we revisit its birth, its history, and the interpretation we have given it since 2012 at Hast.

The mysterious origins of the Oxford shirt

It is often the case with pieces that have stood the test of time: the origins of the Oxford shirt remain relatively unclear. Mysteries, shadows, and fantasies surround its exact origin, making it a garment as famous as it is enigmatic.

With all due caution, however, we can list four parameters that are not unrelated to the international success of this emblematic piece:

  • Its fabric. Contrary to what we often read, Oxford cloth did not originate in the English city of the same name. In truth, it was in Scotland that it saw the light at the end of the 19th century. Keen to diversify their offerings, weavers there would have developed original fabrics, taking care to name them after prestigious American universities of the time (Harvard, Yale, Princeton, and Oxford). With its doubled warp and weft threads, only the latter passed into posterity, offering our wardrobes a famous piece of their history.

  • Its collar. It's hard to mention the Oxford shirt without dwelling on the button-down collar that is generally associated with it. For the record, this duo supposedly appeared on polo fields, with players adopting this strategy to keep their collars in place during the game.

Bagatelle Polo Club, Paris, 1900.

  • The decisive influence of Brooks Brothers. In 1896, a certain John E. Brooks attends a polo match in England. However, it is neither the horses nor the skill of the players that captivate him that day, but rather the outfits of the protagonists. Crafted in a fabric he is unfamiliar with (Oxford, from neighboring Scotland) and adorned with a generous button-down collar, he literally falls in love with the shirts he sees, to the point of bringing one back in his luggage on his return to the United States. And for good reason, this John E. Brooks is none other than the grandson of Henry Sands Brooks, founder of the oldest clothing brand in the USA: Brooks Brothers. A few months later, the brand releases what will simultaneously make its legend and success for many decades: the OCBD (Oxford Cloth Button Down). Mr. Brooks' intuition was spot on, wasn't it?

  • The consecration of the Ivy League. Between 1896 and the mid-20th century, the OCBD (or "Oxford Cloth Button Down shirt") asserts itself as the queen of American sportswear. Praised for its versatility and comfort - a very new concept for the time - it finds a second youthful vigor on American campuses. In the 1940s, students from prestigious Ivy League universities embrace it and boldly reinterpret its use compared to their parents. Between provocation and declaration of emancipation, they associate it with casually formal outfits. Like the combo of loafers/sport socks, the colorful OCBD/tie/blazer ensemble blossoms in the halls of Princeton, Cornell, Dartmouth, or Columbia. A daring move that will define the heyday of preppy style and forever open the doors of formal attire to the Oxford shirt.

The Oxford shirt today

Consecrated thanks to a unique material, unparalleled comfort, and a fantastic history, the Oxford shirt has become one of the fundamentals of any good wardrobe. More than that, one could say without exaggeration that it is the absolute basic, the first piece to invest in when building a men's wardrobe.

To recognize one at first glance, here's a little reminder:

  • the fabric: Oxford is easily identifiable to the naked eye. Textured and thicker than poplin, this fabric is historically doubled in warp and weft, giving it a rich and generous texture. That being said, the overall appearance of the fabric depends on the thread count and density: a very tight Oxford made from extremely fine threads can have a rather smooth appearance, while a loosely worked Oxford with thicker threads may have a more rustic, possibly workwear-oriented look.

  • the button-down collar: it's almost a constant since the mythical OCBD. Sometimes called the "American collar," these buttoned flaps are almost inseparable from Oxford shirts. Generally, they are quite imposing and "rolling," embracing the neck line to gently touch the ends of the collarbones.

  • the color: initially, Oxford fabric is worked with threads of different colors in warp and weft, giving it a nice mottled appearance. As a result, you will more easily find pastel-colored tones (pale yellow, pink, or mint, for example) on these shirts, even though plain colors suit them perfectly these days.

Moreover, they may feature a chest pocket on the heart side, a remnant of a time when these "tobacco pockets" were used to keep a pack of cigarettes close at hand. This detail immediately places Oxford shirts with such pockets in a casual category.

Finally, look to the back to find the last details unique to Oxford shirts. On one side, there is often a pleat in the middle of the back to maximize comfort and promote freedom of movement. On the other, it is not uncommon to find a small loop between the shoulder blades, at the intersection of vertical and horizontal material panels. This "loop," whose authorship is attributed to Elliot Gant (son of the founder of the eponymous brand), was used to hang shirts in university wardrobes without deforming the collar.

Oxford Shirts at Hast

You've understood it, the love affair between men's clothing and the Oxford shirt has lasted for more than a century. For Hast, whose love story with shirtmaking is younger but just as passionate, interpreting this masterpiece was both a duty and a privilege.

Capitalizing on our direct-to-consumer model, exceptional natural materials, and European partners with extraordinary expertise, we have released three ranges of Oxford shirts meeting all your needs:

  • A casual range: if you are in search of a traditional OCBD, exuding calm and relaxation, you will find it here. Rich color palette, button-down collar, patch pocket, locker loop, all the details that shaped this Ivy wardrobe legend are brought together here. On the occasion of our tenth anniversary, we even treated ourselves to reviving an iconic model from the 1960s, as we are lovers of this golden age of the Oxford shirt.

  • A formal range: here, we find the distinctive grain of Oxford fabric, combined with more formal details. Semi-cutaway collar, beveled cuffs, and a close-fitting cut suggest a shirt to be worn inside the pants, possibly with a tie. Less smooth than its poplin counterparts, it allows you to bring a welcome texture to the strictest dress codes, without any missteps.

  • A premium range : with this range, we move away from the sportswear roots of the Oxford shirt and enter the solemn and distinguished world of sartorialism. Combining Oxford fabric with our most luxurious materials and meticulous finishes, we embrace a wide range that some will find audacious, others confusing, but successful by all (we hope). Double-twisted fabric from a prestigious Italian house, fabric designed to resist wrinkling, buttons sewn in "zampa di gallina" style: here, you touch excellence in classic elegance, with a twist that only connoisseurs will notice.

Another significant advantage of our Oxford shirts: they are extremely easy to maintain. To take care of them, you just need to put them in the washing machine on a delicate program at 30°C, with a spin set to a maximum of 400 revolutions per minute. After a few hours of drying on a hanger, they will be ready for ironing before embarking on new adventures.

It's your turn to enter the legend

From its native Scotland to our stores, through polo, the American "Middle class," and the prestigious universities of the Ivy League, the Oxford shirt has continued to charm throughout the decades. As avid lovers of shirt craftsmanship, it was unthinkable for Hast not to interpret this living legend of men's wardrobes, which is why we have dedicated three highly refined ranges to it. Casual, formal, or premium – it's now up to you to choose the one that will accompany you for years to come.

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