Chambray Shirts — Blue Collars On The Red Carpet
An article in The New York Times illuminates the working class roots of the current fashion must-have, the chambray shirt. Turns out chambray in America has a local provenance.
The early history of chambray stretches to the French town of Cambrai and a dense linen, cambric, long woven there. It came to the United States in 1790 when, defying laws against exporting textile technology, a Briton named Samuel Slater built a mill in Pawtucket, R.I., and produced cambric’s cotton analog by cross-weaving a colored thread and a white fill.
While the political and economic co-opting of blue-collar workers is well-known, Times writer Troy Patterson shows that the chambray shirt has also proven irresistible as short-hand to authors from Saul Bellow to Stephen King.
And speaking of horror, the ‘Neal Cassady’ is currently available at certain pricey boutiques, “in an attempt to summon daydreams of a sainted beatnik.” Talk about your signifiers . . . blue shirt as red flag. The guy wearing that item? Run screaming into the night.
(And yes, this is our Labor Day entry!)