Angus Davies visits Budd Shirtmakers, London and looks at “ready to wear”, “made to measure” and “bespoke” shirts.
My family and friends should relax I am not advocating gambling. The children’s dinner money is safe.
The problem with writing about luxury goods is that your palate becomes increasingly discerning. This wouldn’t be a problem if I owned a tranche of land in Mayfair or a couple of oil wells in the Gulf, but sadly my personal assets are rather diminutive in magnitude.
Temptation leads to hiding a purchase from my eagle-eyed spouse. My frivolous approach to spending does not match my wife’s parsimonious tendencies. I often use the technique of stowing items in the boot of my car and waiting until she does the school run and the coast is clear.
Another item has appeared on my radar, a Budd shirt.
Established in 1910
Budd was formed in 1910 and is located in the Piccadilly Arcade where it has operated since its inception.
They are quintessentially English and are located around the corner from Jermyn Street, an iconic locale famed for shirtmaking.
Enter the premises and its traditional decor is a haven of sartorial elegance. The choice is baffling. However, expert advice is readily on hand.
Shirts are similar to bespoke suits with three options available; “ready to wear”, “made to measure” and “bespoke”.
I am often asked to explain the difference between “made to measure” and “bespoke”.
Made to Measure
The shirt is customised to the wearer’s shape with the choice of collar, cuff and sleeve length all personalised to the customer’s needs. Patterns are generic. This provides a compromise for those gentleman who do not conform to the “off the peg” body shape.
A bespoke shirt will involve a pattern being created for the individual. The fit is perfection, no compromises to be found. In the case of Budd, the selected cloth is cut in the cutting room above the shop and the bundle of component parts sent to their atelier in Andover. The artisans skillfully bring together each component, beautifully sewn, into peerless union.
The shirt is washed to allow for any shrinkage. No detail is overlooked.
The choice of cloth is mouth watering. The most discerning style dandy will be confronted with a vast array of cloths.
Egyptian cotton is processed into the finest Swiss and Italian fabric with high knot counts. They have a tender tactile feel born to caress the torso. Nestling on shelves in cylindrical slumber they wait to be selected by the sartorial cognoscenti.
Some clientele will favour “The Budd Stripe”. A distinctive house pattern dating back to the 1930’s, it is offered in a variety of hues to compliment any outfit.
A variety of collars are available, but the most popular are the Bank collar and the Budd collar. Timeless elegance, they will not succumb to the fickle fate of fashion.
John Butcher is the head cutter and is ably assisted by Darren Tiernan. Both men have extensive experience.
Modest in their demeanour, they dress with savoir faire.
Scissors, chalk and brown paper are their brush, easel and canvas. They deftly work with knowledgable and competent hands.
Budd is not expedient manufacture in an overseas location, churning out mundane mass produced semi-disposable items. This is matchless attire for those who seek quality.
I am seduced by the shirtmaking craft of Budd.
I now have a dilemma, how to justify purchasing yet another “treat”.
Eureka! Lose some shirts, necessitating replacement. My creativity knows no bounds when it comes to self-indulgence.
The guys at Budd are missing a trick. They should have changing rooms fitted with integrated waste disposal units or rabid paper shredders. If my shirt was accidentally consumed by a velociraptor in the changing room, I would have no choice but to buy a replacement shirt at Budd.
My strategy is evolving as I write this article, a Budd shirt beckons. My procurement method is taking shape with every passing minute.