Victor Besnard’s WOCBD – An Introduction Before The Review

Besnard in his shirt maker’s workshop in Naples.

Victor Besnard is a brand that may be unfamiliar. I did a review of the shirt, but thought you should get to know the creator behind it first. The shirt is very much like the man, old school European artisan standards with classical DNA. Here’s Victor.

Me: Tell me the story of the shirt.

Well, I guess it started with the first oxford cloth button down shirt I ever purchased. About 15 year ago, I worked in a high-end menswear store which was the first – and only – store in the Netherlands to sell Brooks Brothers Black Fleece, a high-end collection designed by Thom Browne. The Black Fleece OCBD was inspired by vintage Brooks Brothers shirts and made from heavyweight oxford cloth. It became my favorite shirt and I wore it until it was in threads.

When I started Besnard, the first product I launched was an OCBD in white, blue and blue university stripe. I wanted the same heavy-weight oxford cloth that would only get better with age. I finally settled for a sturdy 180 grams two-ply fabric made from American Pima cotton. It might feel a bit stiff when you wear it for the first time, but it softens after a few washes.

The story of BESNARD started when I found a bespoke suit in the attic of my parents’ house. This suit was made by my great-great-grandfather A. Besnard, who owned a tailoring shop in the Hague (La Haye). I wasn’t aware of this detail of my family heritage and, coincidentally, at the time I held a part-time job at a bespoke tailor. It just felt like I was meant to continue his legacy.

I started working on a concept for my own label in the spirit of my ancestor and decided to change the focus from bespoke to ready-to-wear, while maintaining the same level of quality and craftsmanship as tailoring. I admire traditional craft and many of our products are still partially made by hand.

Me: The white oxford can be a utilitarian shirt, you great it like a luxury item. Which I love. What’s the strategy there?

With our roots in bespoke tailoring, we aim to maintain a certain level of craftsmanship in our (ready-to-wear) products. For our shirts, we chose to focus on handwork that we believe adds the most value. Each shirt is cut by hand to ensure all patterns match. We selected four handmade steps that not only look aesthetically pleasing but also have a functional benefit. The collar, armholes, buttons and gusset are all attached by hand.

It might sound like a cliché, but personally, I would rather buy a few good garments and wear them for a long time than have a high rotation of items of lesser quality. I continue to wear my OCBDs long after they start fraying around the collars and cuffs. In fact, I actually like them better when they’re a bit worn in.

Cuffed jeans with a WOCBD. It is almost like I designed this.

Me: I notice the collar is a little longer, which I suspect services a thicker tie better. What re the other benefits?

The collar points are between 3.25 – 3.5 inches long, which is – in my opinion – the perfect length for a button down collar. It makes a nice collar roll and works well with a tie. Fred Astaire is a great source of inspiration to me, he wore his shirts with a relatively small knot. The proportions are just right.

Victor is right. Perfect proportions.

Me: The size is perfect. It is not a slim cut, it is not boxy. Do you recommend people size up? This fits perfectly.

Next to craftsmanship, we pay a lot of attention to creating the right fit. Our starting point is to develop one fit and then never change it. This way customers always know what size to buy, and that they can buy their favorite shirt again in the future. I would say our shirts are cut slim but not tight. When in doubt, I recommend customers to size up (cotton cloth will always shrink a bit)

I am so done with winter. Here’s just one reason.

Me: Care recommendations?

I always wash a new shirt cold the first time. After that at 30 degrees Celsius with a low tumble. I remove the shirts promptly after washing to avoid wrinkles to dry in. Then I grab the collar and give it a firm shake. This makes the ironing a lot easier (or redundant).

Me: What else should I know?

A nice little detail that I haven’t mentioned is the conical cuff. Each shirt has cuffs that are cut in a conical style that hugs the wrist. It enables a better fit as it tapers along with the sleeve, in contrast to the straight barrel cuff, which can seem straighter and looser.

The review comes Friday, but if you want to dig around yourself first, here is Victor’s site.

Like Kent Wang, the site and Victor’s collection are not purely Ivy, but there is definitely quality Ivy in there.

JB

24 Comments on "Victor Besnard’s WOCBD – An Introduction Before The Review"

  1. I dig the longer point coollars like these, but the spread looks like it is wider than that in the Fred Astaire photo. It is difficult to determine by the photos. Maybe this is due to body type, or is it a Neopolitan “flare”? The WOCBD paired with cuffed jeans appears to be a BOCBD. Looking forward to the review.
    Yeah, that seersucker outfit looks cool as a cucumber. Does one eat watermelon while wearing something like that?

  2. These look great–I’ll be bookmarking the site for my husband’s birthday later this year! Eagerly await the review.

  3. Hardbopper

    I can’t help on what to eat in a seersucker suit, but I feel confident in saying the proper drink choices. If you’re wearing seersucker, it’s probably warm and thus you want something that’s refreshing. In my opinion, that leads to a G & T, Negroni, almost any rum drink, or margarita.

    Another is the Ranch Water, a recent Texas invention that is two shots of blanco (clear) tequila, one shot of fresh lime juice, a couple-three glugs of cold Topo Chico, and a lime wedge for garnish.

    If I liked vodka, I would recommend something with that too.

  4. Damn the dumb typo.

  5. whiskeydent,

    “Damn the dumb typo.” Mine, or yours?
    Your seersucker drinks sound good. I am of course aware of the mint julep, but maybe too dogmatic. I’ve been in the mood for a gin fizz with 1/2 and 1/2, 7-up and Topo Chico.

  6. The term “WOCBD” keeps throwing me off because “WOC” almost always means “women of color.” A very curious editorial choice.

    There is reaching, there is stretching, there is hanging off the cliffs by your fingertips for fear of plummeting to your death, and there is this scream of a distortion. Kent, allow me to sate your curiousity. What you are so feverishly looking for doesn’t exist. DUH is usually what one says in response to such an avoidance of clarity, but that doesn’t stop Duke University Hospital from using it. xoxo – JB

  7. I guess I’m not at all sure what you’re disagreeing with, JB. The fact is that “WOC” is commonly accepted to mean “women of color” in many, if not most, circumstances and that’s what my mind reads it as when I see it at the beginning of your acronym (which, by the way, no one else has ever used as far as I can tell). Just a strange choice to me, but by all means, do your thing!

  8. Harbopper, it was mie tiepo.

  9. To put it another way, JB – I’m definitely not saying that it’s “wrong” for you to use the acronym. It’s easy enough to figure out based on context clues but my brain already sees WOC as “women of color” pretty much every time. That’s not up for debate unless you wish you accuse me of lying. If Duke University Hospital wishes to use “DUH” as an acronym, that would almost certainly lead some to make the exact same type of connection with the much more commonly known word.

  10. Charles Dana | March 1, 2022 at 6:04 pm | Reply

    Kent, if the acronym “WOCBD” is throwing you off stride, how do you feel about “POCBD,” which refers to my favorite button down shirt?

    Brooks Brothers used to make a mighty dandy one.

    I’d be willing to discuss the virtues of the BUSOCBD, but I’d need a nap first.

    That’s not only a funny like, it has, as my old boss used to say, “the additional virtue of being true.” – JB (PS I saw a POCBD the other day in a thrift store, Brooks, 15/34 and I am 17/34. 17.5 if I am going to wear a tie. And I STILL almost bought it.)

  11. I have no idea what “POCBD” is supposed to mean except maybe a Pink Oxford Cloth Button Down” I would guess? POC usually makes me think of “Person of Color.” You are of course free to use whatever made-up acronyms you want but not everyone is going to know what you mean.

    Kent, I think the issue is the lengths you have to go to to call WOCBD a “curious” choice. It’s not “curious” it is “obvious.” – JB

  12. More importantly, when is a WOCBD actually a BOCBD? This answer is perhaps even more curious.

  13. Besnard’s OCBD offering has a great collar! It reminds me a little of the one Cary Grant wore in North By Northwest — just a little more spread than American collars tend to be. These shirts achieve a surprising balance of swagger and restraint. Great profile on a clothier more of us should get to know.

    @Kent and Charles Dana, I tend to see words and acronyms as singular objects, rather than as a series of letters. As evidenced by many an uncle’s “who’d have thunk it?” emails from some years back, it is true that one can usually read perfectly a sentence composed of words in which all but the first and last letter are scrambled. I would try that trick here, but worry my comment would get flagged by the spam-detector robots.
    To put the matter raised by Kent to rest, I propose “WOCBD” change to “WhOCBD.” That way, there will be no confusion as to whether it’s a women of color button down or a white Oxford cloth button down. Additionally, the first three letters of this newly proposed acronym spells the word, “who,” as in, “Whose WhOCBD will be reviewed next?”

  14. *spell, not spells. Dang.

  15. Honestly, the comment JB made about the lengths that I “have to go to” is perhaps the most absurd part about all of this. All I said was that WOC reminds me of “women of color” (because that’s what the acronym usually stands for). I didn’t make any pronouncements about how it was wrong or offensive, just that it was a bit of a strange choice to me. And then he got really defensive, as usual, when anyone dares to be even remotely critical of things he’s said.

    This is why I meditate. So that between the two of us Kent, one of us has clarity. Here. Let me help. You cannot on the one hand claim that you didn’t say it was “wrong or offensive” and in the very next sentence admit you were “critical”. That’s dizzy. You are very welcome. – JB

  16. Prescott Forbes | March 2, 2022 at 12:54 am | Reply

    Since a white oxford cloth button down is the proper color for men and women of any color, I feel no need to add the “W”. At the risk of being accused of being a closet racist, let me say that “white is right”.

  17. 30 degrees Celsius | makes the ironing a lot easier. thanks.

  18. Charles Dana | March 2, 2022 at 6:20 am | Reply

    Acronyms, acronyms. WOCBD. POCBD. BOCBD (let’s not think too much about the “BO” part).

    Don’t take them too seriously. (We’re only referring to shirts, after all.) Have fun with them, but please, no overthinking them. No need to get stressed.

    Otherwise, aficionados of the OCBD will end up needing to BYOB.

    Preach. – JB

  19. Victor can kit me out with all the above looks. Bravo!!

  20. As nice as the shirts seem to be, if they are not manufactured in in exact neck and sleeve sizes, they are of no interest to me. What a shame..

  21. John, we both know that criticism can involve any number of things that aren’t “wrong” or “offensive.” For example, “You are a poor writer who resorts to specious arguments when challenged.”

    Ok, I think I get it. You mean like, “Kent, you keep coming back for six months so I think this might be the only place you get any attention and by the way try reading the room once in a while.” Like that, you mean? – JB

  22. Kent, please put the shovel down. I frequent a Texas fishing blog on which POC is Port O’Conner. The guys on there would be very confused if you told them the little fishing village had become a person of color. One of them would probably call the Texas Rangers l if I said your argument verged on pedantry.

    Bravo. – JB

  23. Another damn typo. I need a cocktail.

  24. I believe the missing element in this entire BNF on WOCBD is context, and perhaps platform, which means there are actually missing elements, as in more than one. So I restate my supposition, there are missing elements in this entire back n forth on WOCBD.

    When I’m sailing and send a SOS request, my intentions are clear. When I’m scrubbing a Dutch oven (no Dutch were offended during the use of their namesake oven), anyway when calling for SOS when cleaning pots and pans I get a metal and soap scrubbie.

    A deuce in cards is a 2, in tennis a tie, so is my Tuesday with a Bow Tie a BTT, or Deuce Day? Is it also BOGO at Publix?

    The curator’s use of WOCBD is both contextual and platform understood to be the color, or lack thereof, of a shirt. Choosing to see otherwise is cause for self reflection on what’s really ailing ya.

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