07 May 2010

Off My Back: E. Crew & Ecru

"Every man should have at least one ecru shirt in his closet." So said the men at Herzfeld. If you want a shopping experience close to what it must have been like in the glory days of the 1930s then Herzfeld may be the only place left. At least in NYC.

I haven't owned an ecru shirt since I worked at Brooks Brothers in the 80s. It was a "Makers" button down and it paired well with a wool tie of hunter green mixed with red and yellow pheasant or horse and rider. It was quiet and elegant and looked good on anyone.

This Hausammann + Moos double cuff shirt is too formal for a wool club tie but the ecru still works understatement by calming down what would be too much contrast with a white shirt. I like to think of this as Trad Italian since the jacket and tie are both from Italy. Many of you know that pocket squares bother me but since this is an Italian effort... Well, when in Rome.

I was thinking about the old J Crew catalogs from the early 90s and how each one seemed to tell a story. Lots of normal looking kids huddled around a beat up Land Cruiser with a Wire Fox Terrier in the foreground and grey haired parents in the background with a beautiful vacation pile on a pine tree encircled lake in Maine. Maybe it was Wisconsin. They kinda look the same.

J Crew isn't going away. Herzfeld might. So I had this idea of J Crew creating a new brand of top shelf apparel. Stuff made in France, Italy, England and the US with a focus on quality but at a not too dear price negotiated by J Crew's huge orders. I'd call it E. Crew, short for Ed, who was the dad in those catalogs years ago. The dad who lost the squared inseam / waist 15 years ago but knows quality and value when he sees it.

E. Crew would offer side vent jackets made from butter-like wool from Italy. Thick English silk ties with matching boxers instead of matching pocket squares. French gloves in gold calf with cashmere linings in Tiffany blue. Maine button downs with unlined collars and 12 oz khakis made in Brooklyn. Heirloom goods that speak to the elegance of the past and worn with the comfortable thought that this stuff may very well out live you. E. Crew. That's my fantasy store.


Anonymous said...

OK, it's your fantasy so you can name your characters anything you like. But not EVERY gray haired guy suffers from "e. d."

Sheik of Araby said...

Maine and Wisconsin may look the same, but you could never mistake the stench of yeast and cheese that emanates statewide from Milwaukee. When the wind is from the north, shoppers on the Chicago Loop roll their eyes and shake their fists at the Sconnies.

Nice shirt.

La Maison Fou said...

OOooohh. I have not heard of Ecru in a while. AS very 80's color name term. Love a good Ecru color.
Thanks for stirring a memory or two!

Good weekend to you.

K.S. Anthony said...

Hear hear!

E. Crew might be the start of something wonderful...something not Made in China.

brohammas said...

I'm sure you wrote something fantastic here but I got distracted.
Size 16 neck? I havent worn a 16 1/2 since I was 12?

What were you saying again?

Brian said...

Somebody tell Mickey! But make sure Tintin gets all the credit.

Family Man said...

Ecru: not for everyone. I'd say that about half of all Caucasian men are not flattered by it, but it's a good color for the remaining half. Here's how to tell: if you like any shade of orange, ecru is for you.

My closet is an ecru-free zone, but I sure wish I had a jacket like the one in the pictures.

Michael Rowe said...

Nice piece, Tintin. Ecru as narrative. Not every writer could pull it off and make it sound this good!

Anonymous said...

I miss those J. Crew catalogues from the early 90s...

tintin said...

anon 10:38- Nice one.

La Maison- I remember my college girlfriend was very fond of her Aigner ecru button down. Aigner still around?

KS Anthony- I suspect soon enough the Chinese will increase their wages and the apparel industry will go looking elsewhere. Perhaps Mars.

Brohammas- All that ginger beer.

Brian- It'll never happen. Neeeeever.

Family Man- 'Like' or 'Look Like' orange? I have the complexion of Tang. Not the Chinese version but the stuff the astronauts drink.

Michael R - Thanks. You gonna place an order for ecru? You don't have an orange complexion.

Anon- 23:08 You and me both. I'll ask Mickey if he'll let me go thru the archives.

Beefeater said...

My heart like a kickdrum. . .

Anonymous said...

E. Crew certainly sounds like the kind of place I'd like to shop- let us know when you get the financing.

I know I'm oversimplifying but it seems like

RL + Mercer's + Bills = E. Crew

Family Man said...

tintin wrote,

"'Like' or 'Look Like' orange? I have the complexion of Tang."

Umm.... The last time I saw anyone orange it was a guy who took too much beta carotene for an artificial body-builder "tan."

You sure it's not jaundice?

Enzo AGC said...

It seems to me that the store you are describing is what Brooks Brothers would be best suited for these days.

Easy and Elegant Life said...

For a guy who professes to not like pocket squares, that's one fine example on serious display... .

E. Crew. What have you been reading my business plan? Thick English Silk Boxers... now there's an idea.

tintin said...

I but them but rarely wear them. I don't know what's wrong with me - -on many levels.

I like E. Crew. I'm wondering when they're gonna mail me the check.