Wales of a time: corduroy

The once-maligned fabric is this season's class act. Actually, maligned is a bit of a strong word. Corduroy emerged from its hey day in the 60s and 70s - when the likes of Robert Redford and Dustin Hoffman were sporting knockout corduroy jackets and suits in films such as All The President's Men and The Graduate - only to enter the 80s as everyone's favourite fashion scapegoat (then again, the 80s can take a good long hard look at itself in the mirror if we're talking fashion faux pas).

Dustin Hoffman in The Graduate

Overnight (at least in fashion terms), corduroy went from swarthy masculine to laugh-out-loud antiquated, but then that was the 80s - the era that spawned mullets, spandex, and shoulder pads - so what did they know?! In recent years however, men have come back to their senses, re-adopting corduroy and giving it pride of place in their autumn wardrobes. And quite rightly too - it's a fabulous fabric, full of texture, reflects light, and comes in a variety of styles, which is why we've used it extensively in this season's Oliver Spencer collection.

So what exactly is corduroy? Well it's thought that the origins of the fabric are French - the etymology of the word is believed to come from late 18th century France, from the term 'corde du roi' meaning 'cloth of the King'. It was woven then as it is now (only by less industrial means): it's most unique feature are the raised ribs that run parallel to the selvedge of the typically cotton cloth. The ribs are formed by cutting the threads in one direction, resulting in the rows or what is better known as 'wales' in the fabric. The higher the number of wales, the smoother or less textural the cloth will be. Fewer wales give a far more obvious striation in the cloth and generally makes it more lightweight. Classic corduroy typically has about 14 wales per inch, whereas needlecord has much finer ribs and is typically around 18 cords per inch. So that's your Corduroy 101 wrapped up. Let's see how we've used it in this season's collection:

 

Coats

Corduroy Linfield Jacket by Oliver Spencer

LINFIELD JACKET PENTON CORD GINGERLINFIELD JACKET PENTON
CORD GINGER
LINFIELD JACKET PENTON CORD NAVY

LINFIELD JACKET PENTON
CORD NAVY

The Linfield jacket, our classic blouson silhouette, straddles that fine but difficult line between smart and casual. Smarter than a bomber but more versatile than the family of mid-length coats, it’s an ideal choice for autumn looks, while that faux sheepskin collar will see you good throughout winter. We’ve cut this style in a cotton corduroy cloth to give it a smooth but tactile finish. The corduroy we've used across the collection this season is regular wale, so it's quite fine and lightweight compared to, say, low wale trousers, but still has plenty of texture.

 

Blazers

SOLMS JACKET PENTON CORD GINGER

SOLMS JACKET PENTON
CORD GINGER

SOLMS JACKET PENTON CORD RACING GREEN

SOLMS JACKET PENTON
CORD RACING GREEN

SOLMS JACKET PENTON CORD NAVY

SOLMS JACKET PENTON
CORD NAVY

Part of a suit, the Solms jacket has long been part of the Oliver Spencer DNA, each season reinvented in new fabrications. Unstructured and unlined and with a soft lapel construction, it’ll make you rethink the purpose of tailoring, being so easy to wear casually. This style is made from an Italian, regular-wale cotton-corduroy cloth, giving it a rich, warm and stunningly tactile finish. Wear it as a suit for maximum style impact, or keep it in the separates arsenal when you require an injection of colour and texture.

 

Jackets

HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET PENTON CORD RACING GREEN

HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET PENTON CORD RACING GREEN

HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET
PENTON CORD RACING GREEN

HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET PENTON CORD NAVY

HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET
PENTON CORD NAVY

HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET PENTON CORD GINGER

HOCKNEY SHIRT JACKET
PENTON CORD GINGER

Hockney by name, Hockney by nature, our artist’s chore jacket is a brush stroke of genius if we do say so ourselves. An icon of modern workwear, we’ve cut this version in a tactile stretch corduroy with a half-moon collar construction. Versatile, comfortable and easy to style, just don’t get any paint on it.

 

Trousers

Corduroy trousers by Oliver Spencer

FISHTAIL TROUSERS PENTON CORD GINGER

FISHTAIL TROUSERS PENTON
CORD GINGER

FISHTAIL TROUSERS PENTON CORD NAVY

FISHTAIL TROUSERS PENTON
CORD NAVY

FISHTAIL TROUSERS PENTON CORD RACING GREEN

FISHTAIL TROUSERS PENTON CORD
RACING GREEN

If you’re looking for a modern flat-fronted trouser with a gradual taper from the mid-thigh that will go with virtually everything you have in your wardrobe, you can call a halt on the search now. Our fishtail trouser, so-called for the fishtail-style waistband, is equal parts comfortable and contemporary. This style is cut from a regular-wale cotton-corduroy cloth for a beautifully tactile finish and can be worn as a matching set with the Hockney jacket. Similarly, we also have pleat trouser styles in Penton Cord Ginger, Navy and Green.

 

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