Remember the scene in Whit Stillman’s “Metropolitan” when a character sings the praises of detachable-collar shirts? Well a new Kickstarter campaign aims to make them a reality. Boston-based Al Castiel III, who runs the site Regattas & Repp Ties and who will spend the summer in New York interning in Paul Stuart’s custom department, has the scoop.
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Inspired by the well dressed gentlemen of bygone eras, Tom Nascone wants to bring high-quality shirts stateside with great attention given to even the smallest details. American-made in New Jersey, Ben Douglas’ Kickstarter campaign launched yesterday, giving customers the ability to pre-order shirts that have been teased out via Instagram and blog posts over the past year.
The company’s name is taken from Nascone’s great-grandfather, who was a professional boxer in the early 20th century. Like the sport of boxing, the brand tries to evoke a sense of rugged masculinity along with grace and sophistication. For Ivy aficionados searching for that perfect oxford shirt without a tent-like fit, slim but not tight Ben Douglas buttondowns, priced at $135, are made with an unlined collar, placket, and cuffs, and feature patch pocket, back-collar button, and locker loop. They even include reinforced side-gussets for durability, and the collar roll is spot on.
Moreover, Nascone has spent the past several years developing a way to re-create the detachable collars of yore with all of the comfort of modern shirts. Instead of the conventional studs, the solid poplin and striped dress shirts ($145) boast button attachments to secure the collar in place—one button on each side, and one on the rear. The shirts’ top buttons are hand-shanked in order to act as a front stud for the collars. For a bit of added panache, the dress shirts include a patch pocket, two-button rounded cuff, and a split yoke. Each detachable-collar shirt comes with two collars, spread and cutaway, to facilitate longevity and reduce the number of launderings. Here form meets function, as the collars are both for style and convenience.
While a wider variety of colors will be available in future collections, both the oxford and detachable-collar varieties currently come in solid white, pink, and blue, as well as blue/white and red/white stripes. Future collections will include additional collar styles. Also, all the detachable collars are interchangeable between shirts, so if one were to purchase a white shirt as well as a different colored one, they could put either a white cutaway or spread collar on a colored shirt body for a classic look. Nascone has informed me that separate white collars will become available for purchase in the coming months.
It’s been great to see the company’s evolution from just an idea to an actual physical product. I remember having lunch with Nascone when Ben Douglas was still in its earliest stages, and how he would draw shirt designs in a notebook during business classes at Babson College. After spending time honing his skills under designer Michael Bastian, Nascone was finally ready to make Ben Douglas a reality. Check them out, whether you’re a modern dandy or a staunch traditionalist. — AL CASTIEL III
I’ve never owned a shirt with detachable collars. (Don’t know anyone else who has, either.) Re: “to facilitate longevity and reduce the number of launderings.” Does this imply that one would wear a shirt two times, with a change of collar in between? (Personally, my whole shirt needs laundering after a day of wear, which is what prompts the question.) For those who do not launder their own shirts, do laundries “do” separate collars? Very nice looking button-downs, in any case.
The last two kickstarter campaigns I supported, the guys never sent the products. You have no recourse ZERO if they take the money and walk. Total scam. Not saying this guy will do that, but he could.
Ethan, coincidentally I had just pitched a story on Kickstarter to my editor at Apparel mag when Al sent me this piece. Drop me an email as I’d like to hear what happened to you for my story.
Ethan, I know this guy, and his father is a good friend. That won’t happen here.
SFSteve — I have only one detachable collar shirt (a formal, pleated cotton dress shirt). I got it at Brooks some years ago, and bought an extra collar in case one got lost. The collars attach with studs and are surprisingly comfortable, considering that I have them starched to absolute rigidity. Even my small-town cleaner handles them without a problem. I wonder if BB still offers them, either readymade or as a special order. An attached collar is much easier to deal with, of course, but the detachable model enables one to wear a comfortable, lightly starched or un-starched shirt with a heavily starched collar. It may not be heyday Ivy, but I think a solid blue or striped shirt with a stiff, white spread collar would look great with a dark suit, if a bit dandyish in the way of a 1930s Laurence Fellows illustration for Apparel Arts. The button-down, though, looks lot more practical for regular wear.
Great idea,i love it !!
They have also evening shirts (for tuxedo) with detachable collar?
Charlottesville, once again, you and I are on the same page. I, too, have a Brooks Brothers formal shirt with detachable collar.* The bosom is piqué (a.k.a. marcella). However, as I have a long neck, I bought a couple of collars that are very tall (I don’t recall the exact source, but they were made in England). I also had some nicer studs than the ones that came with the shirt, so I sold the BB collar & studs on eBay.
I wear mine with my 1930s vintage tuxedo (single breasted, peak lapel), which is probably the only way to pair a wing collar with a tuxedo and still look good.
I agree that it is very comfortable, but man! Getting all the parts together for my black tie rig takes time! That’s OK; it’s nice to slow down and make getting dressed part of the event.
I agree with you that a detachable collar shirt, as you described, would look smashing. We can at least wear contrast collar shirts with suits and strollers.
* Available again at BB. However, as is the new normal there, the people who write the copy for the products don’t know what they’re talking about: even though it has a barrel/single cuff, which is what white tie requires, they call it a French cuff, probably because it requires cufflinks. Sigh.