Bled Dry: New David Wood Bleeding Madras Shirts Sell Out Instantly


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


64 Comments on "Bled Dry: New David Wood Bleeding Madras Shirts Sell Out Instantly"

  1. Wonder how much they are in India. Bet it’s a LOT less than $175. If one happens to be going to India anyway, this could sweeten the trip considerably.

  2. The fact of the matter is that such cloth and pattern is only used by the labor class in India. It is typically fashioned as a “lungi” that is best described as a sari for men. Never a shirt, good heavens!

  3. The description of the now sold out madras shirts at DW appears to be an exact description of a Gant Shirtmakers 1960s Hugger Model madras shirt. The “locker loop” at the back pleat, as far as I know, was unique to Gant. I had two, one short sleeve & one long sleeve bleeding madras Gant shirts bought in 1962 or 1963.

  4. George:

    I see what your comment is trying to say, but you might want to rethink it.

  5. blimey!you wear on of these shirts in my local pub,you’d never live it down,no matter how much it cost, everyone would say you’re wearing a picnic blanket!

  6. Aleck Grishkevich | August 24, 2015 at 7:24 pm |

    Brooks Bros. madras does not “bleed.” They won’t buy ours because it does. Brooks Bros. is also autoloomed. Ours is handloomed. Autoloom can produce 50+ yards/day/loom. We can produce only 4-6 yards/day/loom. What was available – and ubiquitous – in The Sixties was handloom.

  7. John Carlos | August 24, 2015 at 9:02 pm |

    Aleck, congrats on the real deal madras. I started wearing them in the 1960’s. Tracked some old school hand loomed ones down a few years ago at O’Connell’s. Can you provide more info on yours? When will more be available? Long and short sleeved?

  8. AEV I think I speak for everyone here when I say how pleased we are that you’ve found madras shirts that you like for a price that you deem appropriate.

  9. @DCG,

    May you live a 1,000 years…

  10. John Carlos | August 24, 2015 at 10:11 pm |

    DCG, well spoken.

  11. Aleck Grishkevich | August 24, 2015 at 11:43 pm |

    Thank you all for your comments and interest. Its very gratifying. A special thanks to Christian and CPO Sharp. In response to John Carlos and in addition to the information about the material already in Christian’s (and Chris Sharp’s)post and my previous comments: The cotton used is 2/80 combed, hank yarn; very rare and- as a result – expensive. The advantage are that the shirts esp. have a very luxurious and silky “hand” and yet are durable; they will last for years.I guess you have to actually touch the material to appreciate that quality; its not something which can be conveyed in a photo. A disadvantage of esp. the ones made in The Sixties was they were made of 40s or 60s carded cotton. They were notorious for literally falling apart in 6 (or so) months; one of the reasons there is little vintage madras around. David Hodgkins esp. sees it as being a 3-4 season material. Its not as gauzy as the 40s esp., but still breathable. David Hodgkins esp. sees it as being a 3-4 season material. He’s requested more patterns for – I’m presuming – a subsequent order(s). The ones we sent over were of a more fall/wintery palette. I believe he -at some point soon – will be offering Upmarket Stitchers (of New Bedford, MA)jackets, too. Their Jeff Rose provided us with a swatch of jacket-weight material from The Sixties to see if could be duplicated by us and we have. We – and David and Jeff esp. – are trying to keep and make everything as authentically (yet still fashionable) as possible. (We provided David with some yardage for him to make a jacket for himself. Perhaps he can be persuaded to share a picture of it when its completed.)I believe Christian is being gracious enough to allow us to keep you guys informed via Ivy Style when an as more from garments made our cloth appear in stores for which we thank him. We hope not to take advantage of his generosity and bonhomie. I expect others retailers to come on board now that David has proven (or re-proven) the concept. Back in May, when I provided samples the dear, dear Charlie Davidson said in his imitable voice, “I gotta have this. Its BEAUTIFUL.” Need I say more! Thanks to all! You’re all wonderful.

  12. Aleck,

    If you are willing to sell fabric only, which I think you are, get in touch with David Mercer of Mercer and Sons shirts in Maine. He and I were talking about the lack of real madras cloth about a year ago. Tell him I sent you.

    Your fabric and his shirt-making would be dynamite!

    Many thanks,
    Edwin Ek

  13. Bags' Groove | August 25, 2015 at 3:58 am |

    Well you don’t speak for me. He has a valid point. This site is so often turned into Ivy Trad obsessives’ corner. And 175 bucks is clearly pushing it.

  14. Firstly–this is at it’s best. Even if there’s a place for discussion of film and music, some of us are interested primarily in the clothes. It’s what keeps me coming back. Thank you, Mr. Chensvold.

    Second–as previous posts have revealed, I am a cloth junkie. Good cloth, that is. So, kudos to Mr. Grishkevich for taking the initiative. I’ve taken similar action with regard to cloth (small runs), but it’s contributed to little more than my closet by way of Southwick’s CMT. (Did I mention Magee’s “Donegal Mist” is back?)

    Third–Bob Kidder runs an excellent operation. I own at least half a dozen of the New England Shirt OCBDs and they’re great. Right up there with Mercer.

    Fourth–I can afford to be an “Ivy/Trad obsessive.” Among the myriad of options, it’s rather harmless. And it renders a service to the world: better-dressed people. Like me. (You’re welcome, world). The idea that Brooks and Press and other college shop kit was being devoured by the masses back in the Heyday is absurd. The good stuff was what all good stuff is: expensive.

    Finally: MORE of this fabric. Soon. Please.

  15. Where are you finding any of the above mentioned brands for “around $100”? A simple Google search reveals a majority of NESC shirts are priced…around $175. Mercer goes up quickly to $145 for non-Oxford cloth, $180 for lightweight poplin, and beyond. Gitman makes O’Connell’s house label madras shirts, which go for between $135-$145.

    Sure, these are expensive shirts. Not outrageously expensive, around $30 more than their nearest competitor. This doesn’t strike me as fetish territory. The hardcore fetishist has already filled his basement with dead stock shirts that don’t fit and wouldn’t be worn outdoors if they did.

    I’m with you on four-season madras. Why?

  16. Oliver Besner | August 25, 2015 at 11:29 am |

    I want to echo Ed’s comment: Aleck Grishkevich, please connect with David Mercer and send over some fabric lengths stat! (207) 846-6969

  17. Aleck Grishkevich | August 25, 2015 at 12:42 pm |

    Sid Mashburn, to whom we recently shipped fabric, plans on offering a Loominous “bleeding” madras shirt for $125 to the best of my knowledge for spring-summer 2016.Same handloomed fabric, etc. Same cloth quality as David Wood. Sid Mashburn, too, is known for manufacturing a very high quality product, too. Calling them to see exactly what their plans are is the best bet, however, I should think.

  18. Roy R. Platt | August 25, 2015 at 1:08 pm |

    Those who comment on the origins and uses of Madras might find it amusing to read Chapter 2, “The Invention Of Tradition: The Highland Tradition Of Scotland” in “The Invention Of Tradition”, edited by Eric Hobsbawm and Terence Ranger, Cambridge University Press, 1983.

  19. Aleck Grishkevich | August 25, 2015 at 5:12 pm |

    Thanks Edwin and Oliver for recommending Dave Mercer. Dave, who subsequently emailed me, too, and I have been in touch both by voice and email. See what comes of it. He is, however, (based on my reading of him), enthusiastic and has been attempting to source the material for awhile independently. Thanks to both you guys again.

  20. Linda Swearengen | August 25, 2015 at 5:51 pm |

    No bickering from me, but instead a big thanks for bringing back memories of the “It’s a Mad, Mad Madras World” high school graduation dance thrown 50 years ago by the parents of six fortunate girls. I was one of those girls and have a smile on my face after reading about bleeding madras shirts by David Wood Clothiers.

    • Aleck Grishkevich | August 25, 2015 at 6:30 pm |

      Thanks for your comments, Linda. We aren’t going to forget the distaff side, Linda, either. “Bleeding” madras wasn’t only ubiquitous in The Sixties. It was worn and appreciated by EVERY ONE! As you may remember. We’re going to do our best to see it to it that you’ll have madras to wear, appreciate, and in which to make new memories; with our wishes that those will be the best ones! Thanks, again.

  21. Some people are willing to spend more. Some are not. Making a solidly constructed shirt from a small company in a limited run in a limited fabric tends to make things more expensive than normal. Discount sites do not have this shirt in this fabric because it is limited.

    Does that about cover it?

  22. I think what AEV does not understand is that many of us here are a bit loopy, and we like it that way!

  23. It seems RL have done some bleeding madras recently:

  24. Aleck Grishkevich | August 25, 2015 at 8:47 pm |

    (1)R/L uses either VAT dyes which are carcinogenic and harmful to the environment or what the Handicrafts and Handlooms Export Corp. of India of India (HHEC) calls and markets as “madras check washed look” fabric. (2) R/Ls are autoloomed, not handloomed. To some the autoloomed patterns are less interesting than the handloomed ones because the former look computer-generated (which they are); the latter by the intelligence and soul of a human being. (3) According to K. Sudarsanan/Deputy Manager (Technical)of the HHEC: “I have joined this company in 1979 and visited almost all production unit in South India and never seen bleeding madras check weaving.”

  25. John Carlos | August 25, 2015 at 9:50 pm |

    I can’t speak to the dye issue, but I’ve had handloomed and autoloomed madras. I much prefer handloomed, much like a vintage OCBD.

  26. @Aleck Grishkevich
    The main thrust of your promotion seemed to be this:
    “Bleeding madras is available nowhere else in the world, not even from wholesalers and retailers in India.”
    which clearly isn’t true.
    The distinction between different dyes and looms is pertinent but whether the RL fabric is machine loom or ‘VAT’ dyed is is ‘bleeding madras’ as are some of the Brooks Brothers shirts of recent vintage. The fabric is made in India, is not colourfast and fades after repeated washing.

    • Aleck Grishkevich | August 26, 2015 at 12:07 am |

      @CeeEm: Brooks Bros. shirts do not “bleed.” They do not want shirts that “bleed.” They do not want ones which do. Claims to the contrary notwithstanding.

      From the c. 1967 > (until we started producing ours)there were only 2 types of madras in commercial production in India:

      1. Autoloomed, using porcine or VAT dyes which do not “bleed.”
      2. Auto (or handloomed using an agent) and handloomed using vegetable dyes. Vegetable dyes “bleed” only 2x-3x, then stop. Brooks/Black Fleece which doesn’t “bleed,” nor is handloomed is/was $195 at full retail.

      Neither is what was popular in The Sixties, nor can be considered “authentic.” IMHO: Neither is very good, either.

      “I think we have to pass on the bleeding madras at this time. We have a customer base that expects our products to perform and have had to replace car seats and other items due to color fastness issues. The romantic in me loves the story and your product is beautiful. However, the practical side of the business can’t manage something so unpredictable.” Glen Hoffs/Fashion Director/Brooks Bros. to AG. 4/28/2015.

      R/L Won’t buy them for the same reason.

      In addition: “I have joined this company in 1979 and visited almost all production unit in South India and never seen bleeding madras check weaving…Vegetable colours are using for dyeing in small quantities on organic cotton and which are very expensive and not on commercial basis.” K.SUDARSANAN,Deputy Manager (Technical)H.H.E.C. OF INDIA LIMITED to AG. 4/17/2014.

  27. Sorry, but I disagree. RL ‘bleeding madras’ shirts bleed. The colour fades quite dramatically over 10-20 washes.
    If you truly believe they don’t then take them on legally for the blatant false marketing and warnings on their website about the dye’s propensity to rub off on to ‘upholstery and furnishings’.

    I think what you are doing is fine. Good for you. But push the ‘hand-loomed’ and ‘ecologically sustainable’ aspects over the bleeding bit because there is fabric out there that does what it says on the tin.

  28. Aleck Grishkevich | August 26, 2015 at 2:50 am |

    Excerpts from a 2014 Ask Andy (My user name on that is aucociscokid)thread, “Bleeding Madras”:

    + I decided to test the “guaranteed to bleed” RL items a few weeks ago. I put a NWT RL Rugby shirt in a mixing bowl and filled it withnear-boiling water. I also laid a strip of paper towel halfway in the bowl to test how much dye leeched out. After letting it sit for
    about and hour, I pulled the strip out and it dried to solid white.

    + Current claims of bleeding madras are extremely overstated in the items I have. Vintage (at least back in the 80’s) bled out a lot, started a little crisp with saturated colors and ended up wonderfully soft and faded. The lines don’t blend and the colors don’t bleed into each other, just out. We would soak them in salt water overnight to try to lock in the color if you didn’t want the fade. The new stuff I’ve seen has only a passing resemblance to the old stuff.

    N.B. Loominous “bleeding” madras “bleds” a lot. The lines and colors “bled” into each other. RL, BB, the dyes “bleed” out.

  29. ^
    The above seems contradictory. The second cite seems to favour ‘vintage’ that doesn’t blend and the colors don’t ‘bleed into each other, just out’. But below that you say your stuff bleeds ‘in’.?

  30. Aleck Grishkevich | August 26, 2015 at 4:19 am |

    In the 1960s , the authentic fabric, the colors blended. J. Pizzuto, “Fabric Science.” pp. 176. With the change in the dyes, in the ’80s, the colors “bled” out. Current (pre-Loominous) claims of “bleeding” are over-stated. RL does not “bleed.”

  31. I understand AEVs points that there are cheaper analogs to this shirt, so why spend a premium for an obsolete technology with more limited use capability. But the same argument can certainly be made for automatic watches, fountain pens, antique furniture, and several other goods. And why buy Brooks Brothers shirts when you can get Joseph Bank at 10 for the price of 1. Why buy Joseph Bank when you can get a Macy’s shirt.

    As to the cost, it simply costs more to make limited quantity goods. That is why Brooks Brothers has more outlets than stores and why Polo is in every TJ Maxx. They can do much bigger runs and still make money selling on discount.

  32. So, how might a tailor go about purchasing this fabric directly?

  33. Aleck Grishkevich | August 26, 2015 at 7:14 pm |

    In the 1960s, “bleeding” madras was handloomed, produced using non-environmentally friendly/carcinogenic non-azo free direct dyes. The colors did not “bleed” out, but artfully blended together. The “bleeding” took place for the garment’s life. Post-the non-azo free direct dyes being disconinued, small, non-commercial amounts of handloomed madras continued to be produced using vegetable dyes which only “bleed” 1x-3x. These dyes “bleed” out, not together. Since the 1960s, azo-free direct dyes have been developed. These dyes blend together as did the dyes used in the 1960s. Still, the production of handloomed, “bleeding” madras ceased and it disappeared from the marketplace. The HHEC cites as the reasons for this being, “The dyeing/printing process are very lengthy process and time consuming…Man power was there to do such labories process, now people want to make quick money.” The pre-Loominous madras available today, is autoloomed. VAT dyes are used do not “bleed.” The cost of handloom is 4x that of autoloom. Handloom: 4-6 yds. per day per loom vs. 50+ yds. per day (autoloom.) In handloom 110 yds. is sufficient to produce a pattern vs. 1100 (autoloom). 100% Azo-free dyes (as we use) are 2x more expensive than VAT dyes. VAT refers to both the dyes themselves + the process. With VAT dyes the garment appears very bright post-dyeing vs. a duller looking garment post-dyeing Azo-free.

  34. i picked up a vintage madras in a thrift store around 1989. it was a light gauge, and the colors were beautifully faded. i wore the hell out of that shirt and it was dead within a year.

    so, it was with much glee that i picked up a modern madras in some store receently. nordstrom i think. it felt nothing like that old shirt. it was called madras, but it was simply a plaid shirt woven from horrible lies.

    i doubt i will pay 175 for a shirt, but if i find one of these so-called re-creations in a thrift store, and it feels like that old shirt, i’ll probably buy it.

  35. Charlottesville | August 27, 2015 at 3:27 pm |

    I have a few short-sleeve Indian madras shirts that I bought at J. Press perhaps 15 years ago. Admittedly, thy did not bleed quite like the ones my older brother wore in the ’60s (I recall him devoting almost fanatical care to their laundering), but they have faded and softened up nicely, and they remain in use on summer weekends. If still available, they may be an acceptable alternative for those who are not absolute purists until a new crop is available from Mr. Grishkevich. Contrariwise, a “madras” shirt I bought form Orvis around the same time has never properly faded or softened over the years, but I still give it a try once ion a while.

  36. I have a couple of J. Press madras shirts from about 5 or 7 years ago. They have never softened and the plaid is a bit dark. While I still wear them, I sometimes wonder if other people think I am wearing a winter tartan shirt in the middle of summer.

  37. A great thread about Madras fabric – I have very much enjoyed reading it.

    In the 1960s we imported the fabric for use in womens clothes.

    If there is demand for a plaid fabric, that bleeds and that is woven and dyed in Madras then making it again is a great idea.

    It sounds very much like a niche market so there may never be a profit in it but sometimes it is good to do a project for fun.

    I think that there is no need to worry about what the bigger companies are doing as they often are not very accurate just like they talk about English “ancient madder” silk ties. A small point that is missed is that it has been many years (maybe 20+?) since ancient madder silk has been made in England as it is no longer legal to do so for environmental reasons.

    Instead today in England they make “modern” madder silk which mainly uses heat and pressure and is more colorfast which is a very good thing.

  38. Anyone care to comment on the authenticity of the bleeding madras on sale from boutique online label Leith in Scotland? (

    They apparently started out with the goal of selling real madras, and they appear to have moved onto nice looking saddle-shoulder Shetlands. Is this madras the real deal?

    • Aleck Grishkevich | August 29, 2015 at 4:45 pm |

      On Leith’s blog its says: The yarn is woven on a Victorian Selvedge w/a picture of a loom, which is an autoloom. Loominous is handloomed. Leith also says theirs are vegetable-dyed. Vegetable dyes will only “bleed” 1-3x max. Loominous will “bleed” for the lifetime of the shirt. Again: “bleeding” is not the dyes coming off in the laundry water, but blending together on the garment itself, creating a new and unique garment with each laundering.

  39. I don’t know madras but I know a bit about tweed. And machine woven tweed (Lovat, for example) I’ve seen, felt, and worn is just as good (durable, handsome) as the hand woven (usually Hattersley loom) stuff like Breanish. Obsession can sometimes feed marketing hyperbole. And, granted, in the world of high end clothing, details matter.

  40. I may be more of a 1x-3x bleed guy, as I reflect

  41. “Vegetable dyes will only “bleed” 1-3x max.”

    Perhaps it would be better to say that some vegetable dyes will only bleed for a few washings and that they may very well have been treated to be somewhat colorfast.

    As clearly some vegetable dyes bleed forever…

  42. I have enjoyed very much this post and comments. My 2 1960’s Gant Shirtmakers Indian Madras shirts started out as bright plaids then after machine washing a they faded & continued to fade into a soft muted plaid.

  43. CC offers high praise–

    “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…”

    “Sartorially resplendent.” Whoa.

    So, how many shirts were sold? Five? Ten? A dozen?

    • Aleck Grishkevich | August 30, 2015 at 2:54 pm |

      It was 3 doz. One larger retailer told me that the most he ever sold of a pattern over an entire season was 80 shirts. So, 3 doz. instantly is pretty good. Wouldn’t you think? It was also a trial – and quite a risk by David Hodgkins. The material has been absent for 45+ years; there was concern about the retail price. The trial did what is was intended to do: Prove the concept, as a result additional orders for material are being placed.

  44. CS did most of the reporting. I think the first run was four dozen but Aleck has been closely monitoring this thread and I’m sure will verify.

  45. Well, then. Bully for you!

  46. Aleck Grishkevich | August 30, 2015 at 5:53 pm |

    David Wood Clothiers is currently sold out as the post says. If you’re interested in purchasing them, however,you should contact DW directly. There are other patterns available, too.

    David Wood Clothiers/David Hodgkins (Closed Mondays)
    229 Commercial St, Portland, ME 04101
    (207) 773-3906

  47. I looked up the Leith post to see if I was “pushing” their shirts. Looks more like reported to me:

  48. The New York Times reports news. It also sells advertising space to pay for the cost of reporting the news. The Leith post was from over two years ago. I’ve had no contact with them since. Rereading the post, it looks like they approached me looking for publicity and I deemed what they were doing newsworthy. I did not receive goods nor money for doing the post.

  49. This story was at first going to be a product roll out story but the fact that they sold out stole the lead.
    Just for the record this was not a one off product and interested parties should contact the David Wood shop for pre-orders and should watch for stock shirts and jackets at the Andover Shop.
    Those in Cambridge can stop and take a look at the sample fabric.

  50. More info on the venture as well as ordering the next batch of shirts:

  51. Three patterns available by the yard on Etsy. madras&ref=sc_gallery_1&plkey=9e55b865a31f842989e78e4e672c7f62d71cdc89:251607737
    drop a note for Ivy Style reader prices.

  52. Sorry guys looks like another sell out. I will keep in contact with AG and let you know when a restock comes about.

  53. Aleck Grishkevich | October 12, 2015 at 7:29 pm |

    Had to make a change on Etsy. The links are:…-shop-header-0…_home_active_2…_home_active_3

  54. Dean Poulsen | December 6, 2016 at 6:34 am |

    AG, Please inform Dean when the next batch is ready…!

  55. Another layer to the title “Bled Dry”?

    Turns out this Grishkevich fella is textbook scam artist. Check out his LinkedIn as well as this:

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