Criquet Organic Shirts
Teacher’s Comments: Old School is back
Old School is back with Criquet Organic Shirts— a line of polo and golf shirts whose style and patterns will revive vivid memories of those halcyon days of the 1970s and 1980s.
Criquet was founded by two friends—a writer and an architect—who regretted the passing of beloved golf shirts (and particularly one named “The Doctor Jack”). Finding no modern substitutes as old favorites met their fates, the two friends set out to recreate those classic styles with a modern twist.
The twist is “organic,” a concept which since the 1970s has gone from fringe to mainsteam. In this case, the organic cotton serves both function and form (there’s an architectural reference for you).
I’ve found my Criquet golf shirt (I have one in kelly green thin stripes) a pleasure to wear. It’s incredibly soft—a characteristic which the founders attribute partly to the organic cotton and partly to the weight and weave of the jersey yarn. Thus, the “organic” serves a function in parallel to any outward form as a statement of social and environmental principles.
Like their ancestors, Criquet shirts are designed with pockets and a fit slightly more trim than more recent ones in my closet. The look is quite suitably preppy. Interestingly, the shirt came with a small pack of collar stays. I’m pretty sure these are the first shirts I’ve owned with stays.
Colors in the line are muted. The Kelly Green gives the impression of a darker shirt which has gone through many washings—minus the thin spots and tattered edges.
The combination of softness and muted colors reminds me of the sea change in jeans in my lifetime. In the late 1960s through the 1970s, jeans came from the store as stiff, deeply dyed affairs and required innumerable washings before transformation into soft, faded friends. Later, we would pay a premium for “prewashed” jeans, which were industrially faded and softened.
Criquet shirts are like pre-washed jeans. From the start, they look and feel as though they are old friends.
Company founders Billy Nachman (architect) and Hobson Brown (writer) were kind enough to answer a few questions I had about their line of clothing:
Q: While so many companies are heading to high tech, sleek designs, you go old school. I wore shirts that looked just like that in the 1970s (but I wore mine with pocket protectors). Why the retro attitude? Are you following a trend or making one?
A: We have always found ourselves gravitating towards the classic shirts that were popularized by the Jacks, Arnies, and Seves of the 70’s and 80’s. These shirts exude a rugged elegance that appeals to our stylistic sensibilities. There was really no intention of going retro or following any trend, but rather, we think these shirts, while rooted in a time and place, are timeless in their appeal. Criquet shirts will look as good today, as they do tomorrow, and are as appropriate for the 19th hole as they are comfortable on the 18th. Our intention has never been to create a high performance shirt, but importantly, to offer a shirt that can be worn out on the town, without saying “I just got off the golf course.”
Q: Why organic cotton? Is it a marketing thing—keeping to the old school theme (you go back far enough, ALL cotton is organic)—or does the organic cotton offer some advantage to the consumer?
A: In keeping with our personal desires to be stewards for the environment, we feel like organic cotton offers the healthiest, most natural, and most comfortable option. Conventional cotton production uses some of the most highly toxic insecticides and pesticides on earth, which pollute our soil, our groundwater, and pose serious health risks to both the workers in the fields and the mills. We also feel that there is a “green” movement in golf course design and maintenance towards being more sensitive to the effects of the pesticides and water consumption on the environment. Our shirts are produced in parallel with this path.
Q: The shirt is incredibly soft—maybe the softest I’ve felt. Is that a function of the organic cotton, or is that the fabric weave?
A: Yes! The shirts are incredibly soft. The moment you first put the shirt on, it is really quite special. The softness can be attributed to the a few factors. Organic cotton is often considered to be softer to the touch. The weight of the jersey knit and yarn are perfect… Thin and lightweight enough to be super comfortable yet thick enough to withstand the test of time. Ours shirts are built to be inherited.
Q: The creativity and artistry in writing I understand. But what does an architect bring to the table in clothing design?
A: Design is design, whether its architecture, furniture, graphic, landscape, or apparel. Experience, education, and practice in architecture gives me an eye for composition, balance, and detail, that is beneficial and transferrable to other design endeavors. Architecture is the marriage of program and function with the aesthetic of composition and scale. Its a functional art, much like apparel. As an example, our unique removable collar stays are the direct result of our desire to give structure and crispness to the collar for the life of the shirt.
Q: Do you guys literally do your own clothing designs, or do you have a team somewhere?
A: Hobson and I design collaboratively. We choose all of our colors and custom design all of our stripes. We go through and extensive sampling process and have really tried to perfect these timeless shirts. Since we are the “customers,” we know what we want our shirts to look like and how they should fit. We also know that Criquet wants to provide shirts that wont fall prey to trends and fashion whimsy. Criquet shirts, since they are rooted in history, not in technology, performance, and fashion trends, wont look silly in 10 years. Next stop… shorts.