Wardrobe essentials - Madras

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As the focus turns from the tweeds and corduroys of the winter months toward some lighter fabrics better-suited to some surprise sunshine, today we're looking at Madras.

Named after its birthplace in the southeast Indian city of Madras (since renamed Chennai in 1996), traditional Indian Madras fabrics were coloured with vegetable dyes, resulting in unstable patterns which would – somewhat intentionally – run and fade over the course of repeated wears and washes, creating a unique, constantly-evolving look as time progressed. Nowadays, most Madras is designed to be colourfast, but it retains the bold patterns and lightweight fabric of its predecessors.

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It’s just about as light as a summer fabric gets, and if it’s suitable for the Chennai weather (a yearly average high temperature of 33.3° Celsius), our few weeks of British warmth (a yearly average of 14.8°) shouldn’t be much bother.

So who’s doing it well this spring? Madras garments appear en masse around the same time every year, and we already featured an APC shirt in February (below). The French brand does a great Madras range every year, available at www.my-wardrobe.com

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Meanwhile our favourite of the ties is from Ralph Lauren over at Mr Porter, and Brooks Brothers have a fantastic all-round selection – though you’d be best off visiting one of their stockists as the webstore is rather unkind to non-American customers.

ralphlaurenOur pick of the bunch is the collection from esteemed American shirtmaker Gitman Bros’ younger offshoot, Gitman Vintage. The company’s objective of re-issuing classic garments from the hallowed Gitman archives continues, and the current line takes inspiration from spring/summer 1986.

The Madras garments are made in the USA from 100% Indian cotton, and are available at a number of retailers, including Tres Bien Shop. Grab as many as you like, just please, under no circumstances wear them together. From £121

Words by Gordon McGowan

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