The James Oviatt Polo Shirt

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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)


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