SJC

The James Oviatt Polo Shirt

shirtsNik Koos

The Oviatt polo shirt

Back in 1909, a raw and fast-growing boomtown named Los Angeles beckoned the raw but brilliant son of a Utah blacksmith. Young, talented James Zera Oviatt trekked from Salt Lake City to Los Angeles to work as a window dresser at C.C. Desmond's Department Store: he soon became the retailer’s creative genius. In 1912, Oviatt teamed with Frank Baird Alexander to open the Alexander & Oviatt haberdashery in downtown Los Angeles. Offering only the finest original and European clothing designs, the little shop was an immediate success: James Oviatt soon reigned as the leading menswear stylist on the West Coast. His 1928 skyscraper building is to Los Angeles what Chrysler’s is to New York: a living testament to the finest craftsmanship of early Art Deco.

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Inside the James Oviatt Building, we meet Oviatt historian and vintage menswear connoisseur Marc Chevalier -- wearing a vintage 1952 sportcoat from the store. Marc, an L.A. native, has studied the great designer extensively and lectured on Oviatt and the history of the building; he also collects vintage Oviatt apparel. Not surprising, then, that Marc is seen below wearing an SJC Oviatt Polo Shirt

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Henry Fonda (with Jimmy Stewart) wearing an original Oviatt polo shirt.

Henry Fonda (with Jimmy Stewart) wearing an original Oviatt polo shirt.

SJC has taken a classic 1936 design of James Oviatt’s, patented by him to great success (and worn by the likes of Jimmy Stewart, Walt Disney, and Henry Fonda), and stripped out the darted back and shoulders, while retaining the cut with its nipped waist and unique sporty features. Our newly sourced bamboo jersey with its slight amount of stretch permits a flexibility of movement that the original design achieved by means of darts to the back and shoulders. The lack of a yoke piece and the placement of the shoulder seam --for further ease of movement when extending the arms to the front-- is also retained from the original

Of course, the visually most striking parts of this design are the loop closure and placket, the white mother-of-pearl buttons, and the rakish spearpoint collar.

Worn with SJC silk neckerchief.

With a heavier fabric weight of 300g/ 10.5oz, these shirts will keep you cosy during the colder season, yet due to the breathability of the bamboo fibers they are also compatible with the warm season. (Except for the hottest weather, when the short-sleeved version, to be released this season, will come into its own.)

Curiously enough - from today's point of view, that is - when James Oviatt submitted the patent in 1936 he explicitly mentioned that the use of his was not limited to sportswear proper, but may also be worn with what would then have been street clothes, i. e. tailored clothes:

"My invention has reference to shirts, pajamas, sack coats, jackets and overcoats, and although my invention is illustrated and will be described of the sport type, it is to be understood that my invention is not limited to this embodiment but may be incorporated in any of the aforesaid garments."

(quoted from the submitted patent)

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A short sleeve version will be available in the upcoming season.

Vintage longsleeve polo shirt

Nik Koos

The standard placket vintage longsleeve polo shirts have landed and are selling fast! They feature the 10oz/ 300g jersey bamboo fabric which we also used for the Oviatt longsleeve polo shirt, a swallowtail collar, white MOP catseye buttons and a 2-button placket with X-stitched box.

Available in the pastel shades mustard and jade (actually a pastel light sage), and the two dark colours burgundy and navy.

Also in cream in a slightly darker variety than last summer's version, with the faintest yellowish hue.

The new standard placket is easy to wear open collar with or without neckerchief - or even with a tie.

Vintage flannel shirt

shirtsNik Koos

These shirts are based on two original 1920s American workwear shirts. The fabric and its pattern is true to the originals, a highly complex pattern on what's basically a broken herringbone weave with alternating ropestripes (in the case of the grey and the blue shirt) and a multi-stripe (for the cream shirt).

The complexity of the pattern is distinctive of these early shirtings. Although simpler patterns were made back then, too, highly complex ones such as these gradually disappeared and were mostly gone by the post-WWII period.

The 1920s original (left) and the SJC cream multi-stripe.

The 1920s original (left) and the SJC blue flannel.

The 1920s original (left) and the SJC blue flannel.

The shirts come in two variants, a work and a dress shirt. The work shirt features...

  • throat latch
  • asymmetrical pockets
  • catseye buttons
  • triple stitching
  • felled seams
  • double rolled hems
  • reinforced side gussets
  • chain-stitch run offs
  • arrow tacks to the pockets
  • gathered yoke
  • lined placket and cuffs

SJC blue work shirt with throat latch.

SJC grey work shirt, closeup showing the triple stiching.

Gathered yoke on the grey work shirt.

The dress shirt differs from the work shirt in having a 3-button pullover placket with smaller buttons, no pockets and double instead of triple stitching.

Closeup of the SJC cream dress shirt

The 8.8oz 100% cotton flannel was specially commissioned to faithfully reproduce the feel, weight and pattern of the originals. The result is a truly outstanding cloth, with the soft brushed finish on the reverse side.

Grey work shirt, worn with SJC green corduroy cap.

Blue work shirt, worn with SJC Big B Dungarees.

Blue dress shirt.

Cream work shirt.

Grey dress shirt.

Boneshaker Sweater

simon cathcart

SJC Boneshaker knitted cardigan

Hand made in England on 3.5 Gauge Swiss made Hand-Frame Knitting machines that are over 50 years old.

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To make each panel, the knitter selects the number of needles to give the required width and then starts knitting by pushing the carriage across the needle bed and forming the first row.  

This process is repeated until the next pattern change, cabling, widening or narrowing point.  To widen, narrow or cable, the knitter picks up and transfers the required number of stitches, then on to the next point.

Everything has to be remembered and counted as there are no computers or even electricity involved - just girl power!!

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After knitting the shaped panels (front/back and sleeves), these flat pieces are linked together to make the three dimensional garment.  Our garments are point to point linked meaning that individual stitches are manually placed on the 'points'  of the linking machine and then linked to produce a flat seam. 

This process require skill, good eyesight, patience and the ability to think in 3D!  Not easy but rewarding to finally see a garment made this way.

The yarn is 3 gauge all natural British wool grown and raised here on the British isles.

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The labels and buttons are securely fastened on a Lewis Union Special machine.  The buttons are Corozo nut, stained black and painted with sunburst stripes. 

The labels and buttons are securely fastened on a Lewis Union Special machine.  The buttons are Corozo nut, stained black and painted with sunburst stripes. 

You can see the lovely grain on the outer edges and the back.

You can see the lovely grain on the outer edges and the back.

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