I daren’t count my shirts. I have so many of them that I have dedicated an entire wardrobe to them – space which, to be honest, I can ill afford – and they hang there not in the happy glory of enshrinement but positively wedged into the space; so much so that when I open the doors to remove my shirt for the day, I am forced to rearrange the collection in order to avoid damage. Each time this occurs, I deliver to myself the same, useless mantra; ‘No more. NO more.’
Useless, for I have no will to refrain from shirt purchases. For some men, buying a shirt is like buying milk at the supermarket. You’re convinced you need it because everyone else seems to be buying it, but when you get home you realise the fridge is already an overstuffed lactose orgy. It doesn’t help that I live a hop, skip and a jump from Jermyn Street, the ‘home of shirts’, where tourists crowd the chain-boutiques of TM Lewin and Hawes & Curtis, and gasp in incredulity that you can actually purchase a formal shirt for under £35.
Spoiled as I am, I have little manufacturer variety in my collection – as kaleidoscopic as the colours and patterns are, the labels are limited. A problem? Probably not; if you find a shirt store that caters for your needs, why change?
Ignatious Joseph became known to me through the great multitude of coverage in online blogging; there he was photographed at Pitti Uomo by Scott Schuman, there he was being interviewed by an online magazine. I knew of his product, fine Italian-made shirts, but I didn’t really know his product; I am pleased to say that the latter problem has now been corrected. I am the owner of a splendid pale pink Ign. Joseph shirt (pictured above) that possesses one of the most gorgeous collars I have ever owned.
Unlike many of my other shirts, the Ign. Joseph shirt has a deceptively robust construction; deceptive because it looks and feels no stronger than any other cotton shirt. Though I was impressed with the details – chunky mother-of-pearl buttons the colour of antique bone, long Italian cuffs – it was the way in which the unbuttoned torso retained structure that excited me. I was used to my unbuttoned shirts crumpling under my jackets; wrinkling plackets, sinking collars. To actually wear a shirt that stood up so well was an unexpected pleasure.
Ign. Joseph shirts are made of fine Egyptian cotton, woven and sewn by experienced shirtmakers in Italy and the wonderful collars, hand-sewn (non-fused), are one of the hallmarks of the brand, the other of course being the elegant and passionate proprietor himself, the charming Ignatious. Whilst his team of shirtmakers cut, thread and knot in Piedmont, across the Alps in Dusseldorf, Ignatious holds court in his spectacular red shoes, espousing the virtues of quality over mass production, of individuality over mass appeal and of shirts over everything else. As Ignatious says, “…The shirt is an intimate garment that must merit confidence”; a shirt dignifies and protects.
Once accustomed to the easy elegance of an Ign. Joseph, the cheaply produced wares from certain shirtmakers – though relatively speaking, excellent value for money – feel somewhat inadequate and not just for the superficiality of plastic buttons or even the fused collars. I felt flattered in my Ign. Joseph; a sensation other shirts seldom offer.