Friday, 23 December 2011

Treasured Items... Andrew Bunney

As cash registers frantically ping for last minute presents and sellotape is manically stuck on to all manner of gaudy printed adorned gifts, I thought it an opportune moment to change the pace by serving up another treasured item. Here, Andrew Bunney (British Remains and Bunney) reveals the pride of his chambray shirt collection...


Andrew Bunney and the Big Smith chambray shirt


"I go through phases with the clothes that I'm into - not that I would really consider myself faddish, but it is fashion... so consequently, I always want to discover something new. I want to enjoy, research, and find the best-in-field before I move on to something else. Finding the 'best of the best' is subjective of course, and it could be interpreted in many ways.

One of my earliest jobs was working as a vintage clothing buyer in NYC. This involved scouring warehouses, and sorting out the 'vintage' from the 'used'. Used clothing remained in the US, and the vintage styles were sent to Japan where they could sell for a premium. Today, probably more would stay in the US as the current boom for Americana shows little sign of abating. I had collected Chambray shirts on and off for years, and whilst I find many of the stitching or construction details interesting, my aim was really to find something to wear. The chambray shirt may be a classic, but has really only been the past few years in which companies have remade this style again, or started for the first time...

Here, I want to present this Big Smith chambray shirt made in the early 1960's. This Big Smith shirt has taken an unusual greenish hue, with parts of the original blue showing through in patches. It features side gussets, chain stitching, slightly translucent glassy buttons - many of the details that heritage brands would look to include - but this shirt, as with others of the same ilk, was intended to be cheap and to sell in volume.

The real charm to this shirt comes because of the ubiquity and the democratic price point. On the reverse, this particular shirt has been treated like a t-shirt or banner, and has been printed with a Clenched fist - the screen print is homemade, crude, and off-centre. The shirt looks to have been creased when printed towards the bottom of the arm. The shirt was used merely to carry the message.


This was found in Oakland, and of course I immediately thought of the Black Panther link. Here is a photo of co-founder of the party Bobby Seale wearing a chambray shirt in the late 60s. Or, could this shirt simply have been worn by a protester for a different cause around the same time. Life magazine features a cover with a clenched fist image, worn by a striker on the Harvard Campus in a completely different part of the country. Is there any way to confirm the provenance of this fist? A London-produced pamphlet features another rendition...


I doubt that I will ever know the true story of this shirt, but it captures a certain power and moment in time and for me, that spirit is enough." Andrew Bunney

We hope the fat man in red brings you a future treasured item. Either way, enjoy some quality time with all of your family! Here's to taking a break from it all whilst eating and drinking far too much. Merry Christmas everyone!


Matthew Spade said...

this has been one of my fav treasured pieces i think, just the story behind it and the detail. merry christmas Style S'ers

Syed said...

Damn cool shirt. The colouring is awesome.

Hope you're both having a lovely Christmas weekend!

Heinzelmann said...

Very cool shirt, nice associations with it.
But if anything, 'Black panther' it isn't, for they used the Black Fist, not the red one.
It's a very old symbol (look for 'raised fist') that has been used throughout history to symbolize protest and solidarity by many a cause.

But once again: nice shirt! The print has Saul Bass-esque quality.


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