A Brief History of The Oxford Cotton Button Down

A man’s wardrobe is incomplete without a timeless Oxford Shirt.

As we embark on establishing this new brand of core items, the Oxford shirt was the obvious choice to include in this first selection. It’s casual yet dressed up, it’s durable and heavy yet still luxuriously soft.

It is worn anywhere, by anyone, at anytime.

One might suppose the Oxford shirt gets its name from the city of Oxford. The shirt actually originates from Scotland in the 1800s.

To differentiate itself from the competition, one mill was experimenting with different warp and weft techniques, and produced four fabrics which they named after four famous universities – Harvard, Yale, Cambridge and Oxford. Only the Oxford grew in popularity, and survives yet.

Pre 1930s, the Oxford shirt became a favourite among polo players, satisfying their strict dress code, along with their desire for a comfortable and breathable top.

The players started to sew buttons onto the end of the collar points to stop them curling up while they played; this was keenly observed by a visiting American, one John E Brooks, of Brooks Brothers. Intrigued, he brought one of these shirts back to America, and in 1896, the first ‘polo collar’ was introduced to the American market.

This signalled the end of men buying their shirts and collars separately, as was common practice at the time.

It was soon adopted by fellow sportsmen - golfers, skiers and tennis players.

As these sports were a favourite among preppy Ivy League students, the Oxford shirt became a staple piece in any gentleman’s wardrobe, no doubt due to the fact that it looked as good with a jacket and tie as it did on a playing field.

This casual east coast style didn’t go unnoticed by the elite on the west coast, and soon screen icons like Cary Grant, Robert Redford, Steve McQueen, Paul Newman embraced this new style.

John F Kennedy continued to wear it in the Oval office well after he left Harvard, and it is a favourite of Italian car giant Gianni Agnelli, thought by many to be one of the best dressed men of the 20th century.

Our versatile OCBD (Oxford Cotton Button Down) features all the sought after traditional characteristics – the roll of the button down collar, the placket front, the single cuff, the locker loop box pleat in the back, and is available in 3 classic colours – white, blue and a blue/white stripe, solid building blocks for a timeless wardrobe.