A few lucky souls are skipping through the dog days of summer in new bleeding madras shirts. The eclectic and sartorially resplendent haberdasher David Hodgkins of David Wood Clothiers in Portland, Maine reintroduced the fabric last Thursday, and were sold out in 24 hours by word-of-mouth alone.
Priced at $175, the shirts were based on early ’60s vintage models made of real Indian madras, which is colored with dyes that bleed into each other in the wash (not to mention bleeding on everything else). They came with buttondown collar, back-collar button, and locker loop. The first batch of several dozen shirts was manufactured by the New England Shirt Company. but the fabric was sourced from businessman and vintage Ivy aficionado Aleck Grishkevich, who also provided the genesis to the project. Grishkevich wanted some custom shirts made in the madras he remembered from the heyday. Unable to find real bleeding madras, he found an Indian ally who caught the contagioius madras madness and helped secure the real deal. The manufacturing and retail partners came along later.
“Originally I did it for the fun and the adventure of it,” Grishkevich told Ivy Style. “It was the first batch of authentic, hand-loomed, made-in-the-US bleeding madras shirts available anywhere for the first time in over 45 years. In the 1960s, the cloth was dyed with non-AZO-free dyes which are not environmentally safe and were outlawed by most countries. This is one of the reasons the fabric disappeared towards the end of that decade.
“Our master dyer/weaver also told us that the original vegetable dyes only bleed a few times,” he continued, “which we confirmed by experiment. Our dyes are AZO-free direct dyes, which are environmentally safe but will also bleed forever.”
Under the name Loominous Bleeding Madras, Grishkevich is now working with the New England Shirt Company to create new samples that can be pre-ordered at various retailers where the brand is sold. “The fabrics are exclusive to us,” he said. “Bleeding madras is available nowhere else in the world, not even from wholesalers and retailers in India. We may have located one of the few, if not the last, remaining dyer/weavers from the 1960s in a small village 200 kilometers south of Chennai, the city formerly known as Madras. This man, and the others in the village he’s mentoring in the production, are making the fabric exclusively for us.”
More on the shirts and their availability as it comes to us. — CS & CC