The cult fabric of the casual universe, oh-so-familiar cotton still manages to surprise. Under linen’s vegetal influence, it takes on a noble but fiercely rustic quality. But as the weaves grow denser, it acquires a soft, smooth, elegant fineness, or thickens and bulks up with prominent and firmly set structures, revealing an appealing solidity.
At the intersection of the relaxed and chic universes, from pant weights to trench coats, linen elevates casual cottons. Its refined textures come through in the subdued fantasy of structures from twill serge to end-and-ends, mini-herringbones, fine stripes and tattersall checks, with their irregular slubs. In a more rustic, even gruffer vein, good and heavy plain-weaves whitened in the open air prove resistant to ironing.
Weaves are more firmly-set, and yarns are packed tight to form a perfectly continuous surface that only a stitch-counter could detail. By turn, these will be satins with the feel of Bristol paper, dense twills and fine-grained micro-basketweaves. Polyamide blends enhance the glossy paper effect with an almost surreal perfection. Here, in a change of style, casual cottons are dense and brittle at the folds, and are marked by an impeccable hold. But comfort isn’t overlooked, with elastane blends to ensure freedom of movement.
Workwear cottons – sturdy, ruggedly woven with well-marked constructions, thick, solidly controlled herringbones, compact drills, thick plain wovens or panamas – are built to last. These are generous fabrics, skimping on nothing: it takes what it takes. When it’s blue, it’s raw, and we’ll leave the patina to time. And if not, it’ll be unbleached straight off the loom, because undyed is a kind of message, almost a commitment.