Since the dawn of menswear, the white cotton t-shirt has been an ever-present garment in our collective wardrobes. Not owning one is like eating a pie without a crust, simply unfathomable. It is the glue that holds our wardrobes together, that item we reach for when we're stuck for inspiration. But too often it's also the item we sling on regardless, layered beneath a shirt or knit, hidden from the world's eyes, a mere torso warmer sold in cheap multi-packs.
That's not how we design our t-shirts at Oliver Spencer and certainly not what Oli had in mind when he created the Heavy White T-shirt. Constructed from a organic cotton cloth, the moment you try on the heavy white tee, you know its a different species. The weight of the cloth feels substantial, the drape looks elegant and natural. It almost feels more sweatshirt than t-shirt.
Given that Oli doesn't tire of telling us that it's his new favourite piece from the Organic Staples range, we thought we'd get the ins and outs of it straight from the horse's mouth. Giddy up Spencer...
First thing's first, what exactly is the heavy white tee and how does it differ from the average white tee?
"Well, besides being what it says on the tin, the white t-shirt is as much a concept or a tradition as it is a product. What started life as an undergarment, it has literally been worn through so many cultural moments to become an iconic item of menswear. It was probably the likes of McQueen, Dean and Brando who really made it into something men would want to display, and ever since then it has had style cachet."
What does the white tee mean to you specifically?
"I tend to think of it like a beautifully clean blank canvas. I won't lie, I've had an addiction to white t-shirts for many years but have always been disappointed by what the market had to offer. They were always either made from poor quality cotton, or overly stretchy. I've struggled for years to find one I really liked so I thought I'd just design one myself."
And so what were your requirements for the perfect white tee?
"So, first and foremost, it needed to feel substantial in terms of the weight so I could wear it year-round. It needed a super-soft finish naturally, and had to be made from organic cotton - that was non-negotiable. It needed to be versatile, which is partly why the heavy cloth was chosen because a flimy lightweight cotton is fine as a cheap base layer but doesn't cut it if you want to dress down a casual suit. And even if you're only going to be lounging around the house in it, you want it to feel luxurious."
So how do you wear yours Oli?
"Right now I'm wearing it with PJs at home, although I've found that it strangely (although not unpredictably) keeps migrating to my wife's loungewear wardrobe! Otherwise, it goes with pretty much everything I wear in life. I especially like to wear it with some soft unstructured tailoring, and I've also really taken to layering it beneath a cardigan. You can wear it tucked in for a preppy finish or untucked for a more loose look. It's definitely going to become the piece I gravitate to the most this summer."Shop Heavy T-Shirt Tavistock White Shop Organic Staples