Vintage Suiting Fabric

Discussion in 'Suits' started by Seb Lucas, Aug 25, 2019.

  1. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

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    I used to buy vintage suits thirty plus years ago when they were $5 to $10 for a mint example.

    One thing I loved about them was the coarseness of the wool and the extraordinary weight. Part of the weight was obviously horsehair and full canvas lining. I was astonished that men in Australia could even wear this heavy stuff.

    Who, if anyone uses this kind of coarse, heavy suiting fabric any more?
     
  2. Mathematicus

    Mathematicus A-List Customer

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    If you are asking who is using this kind of fabric for new products, well then the answer is practically nobody.

    One reason is that cloth with such "qualities" is not produced anymore and, thus, whoever would like to produce a garment using this kind of material has to restort to the few bolts produced in the past which are left in stock.

    I said "qualities" with quotation marks because the attributes you cited were not the details men wanted for their suits: people (then like now) wanted suits to be durable and to drape well, but they wanted them to be comfortable to wear and not bulky or scratchy. Modern wool of good quality (read: not the hideous paper-thin fabric that's everywhere in RTW and "luxury" tailoring) has managed to get all of this.
     
  3. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

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    Fletcher Jones (a famous men's clothing store here, now defunct) were making suits with these qualities until the early 1980's. Marvelous stuff.
     
  4. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    In sourcing heavier weight fabrics for my suits, I haven't come across anything coarse, but there are quite a few places online you can find suiting cloth with some good vintage-style heft to it.
     
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  5. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

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    Thanks Benny - it was more of a curiosity question. I don't need a suit. I recently saw a couple of suit coats hanging in a thrift shop made from that old cloth, but it is getting rare.

    Given the expertise here, I was just wondering if that heavy, indestructible fabric was still made and what it might be called. Maybe coarse is too strong a word - it just has a slightly rough hand. :confused: It was still being used in 1960's and 70's suits, but mainly worn by conservative old gentlemen with ties to Britain. My doctor, who was born in 1915, used to wear them. Needless to say he died decades ago.
     
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  6. Mathematicus

    Mathematicus A-List Customer

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    I would say that this kind of cloth still exists, though in a less "rough" form. Suiting of heavy weight and superb resilience capabilities can be found in most suiting fabric shops in UK (you can find it online too).

    As I noted earlier, mills have managed to get density consistent within bolts and to avoid a scratchy hand without weaving a uber-thin and shiny cloth.
     
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  7. Safford

    Safford New in Town

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    But what is it called? I love the texture and am thinking about a new suit...is scratchy still an option?
     
  8. PeterB

    PeterB One of the Regulars

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    Plenty of scratchy still available. Check Harrisons of Edinburgh. They have some good heavy weight tweeds. Also the heavier Heild brothers if you can find it
     
  9. Fands

    Fands New in Town

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    I think the coarseness you're referring to is due to the high twist of the yarns. You could try looking at Dugdale Brothers' Tropicalair fabrics or Fox Brothers Fox Air.
     
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  10. Mathematicus

    Mathematicus A-List Customer

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    I might be wrong but I don't think the original user is interested in coarseness of the hand per se; this has nothing to do with weight and can be found even on very lightweight fabrics (you mentioned Tropicalair, but also note all of Hardy Minnis' Fresco and Holland & Sherry's Crispaire).

    He seems more interested in stratchiness as a by-product of extreme heavy-weight and bulky fabrics. Someone suggested Harrison's tweed; another option could be to get in touch with Booksters'; they had a pretty extensive collection of tweeds (some 22oz were available years ago).
     
  11. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

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    I was thinking of the suits I used to find in thrift shops, mainly from the mid 20th century. I often wore the jackets of these as blazers when I was broke. You could pick up the suit coats for $2. Generally in a dark grey or green, a fine tweed like a thin version of Donegal thornproof - very substantial, a little stiff and coarse but lovely feeling stuff. I very rarely see it these days. I just wondered if this fabric had a name so I would know what to ask for.
     
    PeterB likes this.

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