Introducing the Marol x Hogtown Rake button-down shirt
I am excited to introduce the first Hogtown Rake collaboration, where I work with craftspeople and makers to present products that combine our tastes and values. I am exceptionally proud and honoured that the first such collaboration is with one of the world’s finest shirt makers, Marol of Bologna, Italy.
I had the great pleasure of meeting with the company’s name-sake Manuela Vignudelli a couple of months ago and she shared the story of Marol with me. It is a story of extreme determination, family dynamics and an unexpected destiny. Manuela also measured me for a shirt who’s concept I had been cooking up with the company’s Bo Yang.
About a year ago I met and got to know Bo through the events I helped host for LeatherFoot Emporium’s opening. Bo and I share a mutual passion for classic style. He has recently taken that passion and invested it in Marol – quite literally – becoming a co-owner. As the months went on and we chatted about shoes and blazers and all things sartorial, we would occasionally touch on Marol’s shirts. Then, just before my trip to meet Manuela, Bo made me a wonderful offer: that we collaborate on a shirt design that combined my love of traditional Ivy League with Marol’s northern Italian approach to style and unparalleled skill and craftsmanship. This shirt is the result.
As you probably know, the history of menswear is one of my favourite topics and I’ve especially dug deep into the history of the Ivy League look of the 1920s and onwards. One important staple of that look is the button-down collar shirt. I have had a custom shirt made locally that is inspired by the design of the original Brooks Brothers shirts of the 1930s while I also have their newest OCBD, a return to a more classic, soft button-down. And since it is a style I wear more than any other, Bo suggested we go with a button-down, albeit with a twist. I don’t see the need to religiously replicate designs of the past so this is not a traditional Ivy League shirt. Instead both Bo and I tried to create a shirt that while evoking the shirt’s American sporting history, added some Italian dressiness and elegance.
For me, a shirt’s design all starts with the collar. Bo suggested Marol’s hidden button-down because it produces a lovely roll, thanks to their sublime collar shape and length as well as lightweight interlining. Despite being contemporary and Italian, there is also something old-timey about this collar, thanks to its long points which curve just slightly outward. In true Italian style, the collar is a tad bit higher, which helps to accentuate the roll. And without visible buttons, the collar is just that much more elegant. Keeping with the idea of understatement, I suggested the shirt have a clean, simple placket via a French front. Seeing as I don’t like pockets on my shirts, and the first button-downs didn’t have them anyway, we kept the chest clean.
Other distinguishing features of the classic button-down are usually found on the back: a box pleat and a locker loop. Since this is a dressier shirt we decided to leave those off. However, drawing from an even older style of shirt that featured gathered pleats along the entire yoke, I asked for side pleats. That also insures a fullness to the shirt as I like a bit of blousiness. There is also another feature I quite like that evokes shirts of old: this shirt is quite long, longer than any of my others. This insures the shirt will stay tucked in, as it should.
Another key element of an OCBD is, of course, the fabric. Instead of the standard, heavier oxford found in classic OCBDs, which is more sporty and casual, I wanted something finer and more elegant, with a tighter weave and a bit of sheen. Manuela recommended their finest oxford cloth, “Panama King.” Marol is known for using only the finest fabrics and that isn’t marketing exaggeration. “Panama King” is woven by S.I.C. Tess in Italy of Egyptian cotton. It features a double thread which is then woven to 120 per inch in the warp and 120 per inch in the weft. In other words, a very fine, lightweight yet durable cloth. What impressed me most beyond the hand was the look of the contrasting blue and white threads: on close inspection, they form tiny but remarkably symmetrical squares. It means the fabric achieves an even, smooth sky blue colour when seen at a small distance.
Meanwhile, all of Marol’s signature features are built into this shirt. There are the thirteen stitches per centimetre using a remarkably thin thread, on the collar stitched within millimetres of the edge. The gussets shaped like little houses, as designed by Manuela’s mother. There’s the extra overlapping fabric at the bottom right panel of the shirt, to insure there isn’t too much stress on the bottom buttons. And all the buttonholes are hand cut and sewn, finished with Australian mother of pearl buttons. My shirt also included an exceptional added touch: an extra set of collar and cuffs. This shirt, as with all Marol’s creations, is an investment to be treasured, cared for and worn for many years. However, wear at the edges is inevitable. Instead of throwing away the shirt, or opting for replacement cuffs and collars in white (it could be difficult to match the original fabric), this way I can send the shirt back to Marol to have the collars and cuffs swapped out.
The finished shirt is by far the best in my collection and the number one reason is fit. It is comfortable and flattering. My arms and torso can move freely while the collar is perfectly snug when buttoned. Thus, the shirt looks great on its own or under a jacket. The quality and masterful craftsmanship is unparalleled.
I am please to offer the shirt for sale through The Hogtown Rake for $485 Canadian ($355 US / €325). The shirt is made to Marol’s exacting “classic” ready-to-wear specifications which include a high armhole and a medium slim fit (neither tight nor overly loose). It comes in five sizes:
15″ (38cm) – Small
15.5 (39) – Medium
16 (41) – Large
16.5 (42) – X-large
17 (43) – XX-large
Here are the exact measurements of each size in the classic fit:
To order the shirt, please email me and we will proceed from there (worldwide shipping included but not import duties, payment through PayPal). If you are interested in the set of extra collars and cuffs (for an additional €75), please mention that in the email. Handsewn initials are also available for €15 per letter.
Click the images below to see the collar at higher resolution:
Worn open with a Simonnot Godard neckercheif.
Ivy League style with my old school tie.
Italian style with an E.G. Cappelli wool challis tie.