Like many people I know obsessed with the look, I’m always buying stuff out of season. When things are rare, old stock or even just plain old limited edition; well what can you do but buy ’em up and store ’em away for the metaphorical rainy (or perhaps sunny) day?
Unusual then, that I found this little haul of deadstock bleeding madras recently ready for wear during the current season. Eagle eyed regular readers may well have spotted them on my Tumblr a few weeks ago.
Colin Gives Me The Nod
Tipped off by Colin from FNB who’d got there first and snapped up three or four of the shirts being offered on Etsy by the seller, he’d originally offered to sell me one of them when his shipment arrived. “I don’t really need so many deadstock madras shirts,” was his reasoning.
Well, understandably, when they arrived he changed his mind, but he did suggest that I get in touch with the lovely Tressie from Funkomavintage.
Incredibly, Tressie had some more of these beauties, all in Medium, all deadstock and all in a really usable blue based madras cloth that she was waiting to list on her Etsy store.
She emailed me a few days later to say she was going to be posting them in the middle of one Sunday night UK time. Thankfully, the sandman’s job is over early chez Weejun so at 5am BST on a Monday morning, I suddenly remembered to look, couldn’t believe they were still there and then I bought them all. I don’t think I even saw the prices at the time – I just confirmed they were the same great shirts that Colin had snaffled earlier.
A Northern California Estate Sale
Finding one lone deadstock shirt in a usable size is never easy, but finding more than half a dozen? I mean, these things have been laying around nearly 50 years.
I asked Tressie about the provenance of so many deadstock bleeding madras shirts:
“….well, it was one of those Northern California estate sales, that you go to at 6 am in the morning! I was looking for small home decor and the like and was not expecting clothes, but there they were.
I couldn’t figure out what the guy did for a living…usually I know right away, but this one is a mystery, but clearly he had money and very good taste ;-)”
Clearly the guy was worse than I am at buying stuff that he never used and that was to eventually outlive him. Wherever that guy is, hopefully he was smiling down as the first shirt was unpinned, carefully hand washed and then worn with much pride one June Saturday in 2014 halfway around the world.
This is Not a Store!
As is usual whenever I post images of deadstock stuff I’ve had a bunch of emails, mainly from Japan, thinking this blog is some kind of store and asking to buy them. Well, can’t blame them for asking, but these babies are definitely not for sale. One of each colour is for wearing and the others are for storing away (read: The Weejun’s Estate Sale, God forbid).
The shirts themselves are ‘no brand’ items. The RN number shows an importer of textile goods and they all carry the generic India Madras labels that were so common in the boom years, along with some nice swing tickets explaining how those broken threads and holes in the weave are just ‘character’.
Well, we all love a story and madras cloth which is ‘guaranteed to bleed’ is one of the great marketing success stories of the twentieth century.
Our very own Leith of course makes wonderful shirts in bleeding madras and even old Ralph has a few items that turn up on ebay from time to time in bleeding madras, but generally these days dyes are chemical and fixed.
There are various histories online about the origins of madras cloth, and the American history of using bleeding madras in particular, so I won’t repeat those here – a quick Google search will suffice if you’re curious.
I understand from Guy of Leith that they have a ton of cloth left over from making their shirts. It would be nice to see some full length Bermudas in bleeding madras!
Then, A 1960s Deadstock Gant Hugger Bleeding Madras Popover!
Incredibly, the same day I bought these I also found a holy grail piece – a Deadstock 1960s Gant Hugger Bleeding Madras Popover. Jesus, how many ivy grail boxes does that sentence tick?
I kind of knew it was going to be too big for marked at 17 but I bought it anyway. You know, just in case it somehow transformed its size. Of course it was waaaay too big for me, but it was surely a joy to behold, a thing of real beauty.
I thought about framing it for a while, but then I really like to use deadstock clothes in the real world if possible, so I passed it on to guy who was extremely happy and who is no doubt wearing it on today’s scorching Wimbledon semi finals Friday.
Hot Sun Summer in the City (But We Still Need Raincoats, Don’t We)
Now, on the subject of buying stuff out of season – the long awaited John Simons raincoats and golfers have finally landed. More news soon…