Materials and Styling
Please click one of the links below to view information:
|Leather (Full-Grain, Corrected-Grain, Suede, French Calf)|
|Mother of Pearl|
Wild animals were hunted by primitive man for food, their meat generally providing power packs of protein and nutriments. As a by-product the skins were removed and put to all manner of uses including clothing and footwear. The earliest records of man using animal hides dates back to the Palaeolithic period and is evidenced by cave paintings in Lerida, Spain. Archaeological examinations of Palaeolithic sites have revealed bone tools used for scraping hides and skins to remove hair.
The skins rapidly putrefied and became useless, so a method of preservation was needed. Animal hides are transformed in to leather by a process called tanning. The purpose of tanning is to produce a supple, strong material and to prevent any further decay occurring to what after all is a natural product. Primitive man discovered that the smoke of wood fires could preserve hides and skins, as did treating them with an infusion of tannin-containing barks, leaves, twigs and fruits of certain trees and plants.
The modern process of dressing up animal skin/hide into leather consists of three stages. The first stage is the preparation for tanning. The second stage is the actual tanning and other chemical treatment. The third stage applies finishing to the surface.
Preparing hides begins by curing them with salt. In wet-salting, the hides are heavily salted, then pressed into packs for about 30 days. In brine-curing the hides are agitated in a salt water bath for about 16 hours. The hides are then soaked in clean water to remove the salt and a lime/water solution to loosen the hair. The majority of hair is then removed using a machine with remaining hair being removed by hand using a dull knife, a process known as scudding. Depending on the end use of the leather, hides may be treated with enzymes to soften them.
Tanning can be performed with either vegetable or mineral methods. Before tanning, the skins are unhaired, degreased, desalted and soaked in water during 6 hours to 2 days. To prevent damage of the skin by bacterial growth during the soaking period, biocides are used.
Vegetable tanning uses tannin, from which tanning gets it name. Tannin occurs naturally in bark. The primary bark used in modern times is chestnut, oak, tanoak, hemlock, quebracho, mangrove, wattle and myrobalan. Hides are stretched on frames and immersed for several weeks in vats of increasing concentrations of tannin. Vegetable tanned hide is flexible and is used for luggage and furniture.
Mineral tanning usually uses chrome. In the raw state chrome tanned skins are blue and therefore referred to as "wet blue". Chrome tanning is faster (less than a day for this part of the process) than vegetable tanning and produces a stretchable leather excellent for handbags and garments.
Depending on the finish desired, the hide may be waxed, rolled, lubricated, injected with oil, split, shaved and, of course, dyed. Suedes, Nubucks, etc. are finished by raising the nap of the leather by rolling with a rough surface.
Back to top
In general, leather is sold in three forms:
made from the finest raw material, are clean natural hides which have not been sanded to remove imperfections. Only the hair has been removed. The grain remains in its natural state which will allow the best fibre strength, resulting in greater durability. The natural grain also has natural breathability, resulting in greater comfort. The natural Full-Grain surface will wear better than other leather. Rather than wearing out, it will develop a natural "Patina" and grow more beautiful over time. The finest footwear, gloves and leather accessories are made from Full Grain leather.
(also called "top-grain leather"). Corrected Leather is fuzzy on one side and smooth on the other. The smooth side is the side where the hair and natural grain used to be. The hides, which are made from inferior quality raw materials, have all of the natural grain sanded off, and an artificial grain applied. Top grain leather generally must be heavily painted to cover up the sanding and stamping process.
is made from the inner splits of a side of leather, usually cow, although doe suede and hog suede are available. Because suede does not include the tough exterior skin layer, suede is less durable but softer than standard ("full-grain") leather. Suede leather may also be brushed or napped to create the characteristic brushed texture. Its softness, thinness, and pliability make it suitable for clothing and delicate uses; suede was originally used for women's gloves.
French Calf leather, as used in products sold by Turnbull & Asser, is Full-Grain leather recognised to be of the finest quality. Calf leather is generally more subtle and softer to the touch than normal leather.
Back to top
Cotton is obtained from the cotton plant, a member of the mallow family. The height of the plant varies from 25 centimetres to over 2 metres, depending on the variety, climate and agronomy. It is normally grown as an annual shrub but, in parts of South America and the Caribbean, it is cultivated as a perennial shrub.
Cotton fibres are very comfortable next to the skin because of their fineness and softness. Cotton also has the advantage of being able to absorb water very quickly without feeling wet to the touch. Indeed cotton can absorb up to 20% (of its own weight) of water vapour without feeling wet and up to 65% without dripping.
Back to top
Most of the fabrics used in Turnbull & Asser shirts are made with a Cotton Poplin construction. This is a fabric where the warp (vertical) threads are very closely set and are exactly double in number to the weft (horizontal) threads.
The principal reason for this imbalance in construction is to show with great clarity and brightness the bold stripes for which Turnbull & Asser has always been famous. Cotton Poplin is a fabric that was largely developed in the 1960’s when the Jermyn Street striped shirt was at its height of popularity with Turnbull & Asser at the forefront of this colourful revolution.
Another reason for using Cotton Poplin is the characteristic handle which is soft, but also crisp. This is achieved by the very rich construction. The highest quality fabrics soften and improve even more with repeated wearing and washing.
Cheaper fabrics in the market often achieve their feel by undesirable chemicals and resins added in the finishing process. All cotton fabric purchased by Turnbull & Asser is guaranteed for its purity of finish and freedom from harmful substances and chemical residues.
Two-Fold is a term that refers to the twisting of two much finer yarns together to create a new Two-Fold (U.S. Two-Ply) yarn. Traditionally cotton poplin was woven in two-fold 100’s cotton and most ready to wear shirts available today are made of two-fold 80s, or two-fold 100s. Turnbull & Asser however has gone a stage finer and offers all of our exclusive shirts in two–fold 120’s cotton and upwards.
The number 120 refers to the fineness, or yarn count of the original yarn .The higher the number the finer the yarn. Specifically 120 refers to the fact that 120 hanks of 840 yards length (100,800 yards in total) of cotton thread weigh one (imperial) pound.
Cotton yarn is made by a series of processes from cotton fibre which is a plant grown in humid places. A cotton fibre is classified in four ways, by its staple (length), micronaire (width), strength and uniformity. The most important factor is the staple length as this determines the fineness of the cotton being spun. Most cotton production is 20-40mm staple length only.
Traditionally the longest staple cottons (up to 50mm) were grown in the West Indies, called “Sea Island Cotton”. That production area is very small however, and now the best and longest staple cottons (over 50mm) are mostly grown in the Egyptian Nile Delta, where the finest cottons available in the world (up to two-fold 240s) are grown in very limited quantities in the Giza 45 region. Turnbull & Asser shirts use expensive fabrics produced from cotton grown in the Egyptian Nile Delta.
Back to top
Cotton Lisle is a tightly twisted yarn, usually 2-ply, made from high quality, long staple cotton fibres, spun generally in fine counts. All true lisle yarns are ‘gassed’ and mercerized.
Gassing, or singeing as it is also known, is the process of burning loose fibre ends or fuzz from cotton yarns by passing them over a flame or heated plates. This process gives the fabric a smoother surface.
Mercerization is a treatment that alters the physical characteristics and appearance of cotton textile in yarn or fabric form. The process involves both swelling in a concentrated solution of caustic alkalis, under conditions of concentration and temperature, and stretching to enhance lustre, to increase dye affinity, and to improve the strength of the cotton.
The resulting Cotton Lisle fabric is characterised by its resistance to dampness, smoothness, durability, softness and comfort.
Back to top
Wool is the fibre that grows on the bodies of sheep.
Wool is one of the oldest known natural fibres to mankind. Wool felts were known 7,000 years ago in China, Babylon and Egypt. Since ancient times people have used wool to make their lives more comfortable, in shelter, in clothing, in floor coverings and in decoration.
After Cotton, Wool is the second most used natural clothing fibre.
Wool is an extremely complex protein, evolved over millions of years for the protection of warm blooded animals in a great variety of climates and conditions.
Wool fibre is so resilient and elastic that it can be bent 30,000 times without danger of breaking or damage. Every wool fibre has a natural elasticity and wave or crimp that allows it to be stretched as much as one third and then spring back into place. Its complex cellular structure also enables it to absorb moisture vapour but repel liquid - try and soak up water with a wool cloth. No synthetic fibre has been able to combine all these characteristics.
Wool fibre comprises of an outer layer of scales and the bulk of the fibre, called the cortex. This is made up of millions of long cells held together by a strong natural binding material. This material is made up - put simply - of paracortex and orthocortex, each with slightly different qualities that give wool fibre the characteristic "crimp" or small curls.
Wool yarn is spun from fibres, which are variable in length and randomly oriented to one another. They are intermingled and produce a bulky yarn with a fuzzy surface. Fabrics made from wool are warm and easy to manipulate, but good pressing is essential. Wool is popular not only for its quality of warmth. Because of its breathing properties, wool allows perspiration to dry on the skin, which, in turn, triggers the body's cooling effect. This also prevents perspiration from being absorbed into the fabric as happens with other fibres that have a rapid absorption rate.
The finest wool comes from Merino Sheep, which were first bred in the 14th Century in Spain. Today, most Merino wool comes from Australia; indeed most wool period, around a third of the world’s annual production, comes from Australia.
Quartz is the most common mineral found on the surface of the earth. A significant component of many igneous, metamorphic and sedimentary rocks, this natural form of silicon dioxide is found in a wide range of varieties and colours. It has a hexagonal crystal structure made of rhombohedral crystallized silica (silicon dioxide, SiO2), with a hardness of 7 on the Mohs scale (where the hardness of diamond is rated at 10) and a density of 2.65 grammes per cubic centimetre (g/cm³).
Chalcedony is traditionally defined as a fibrous cryptocrystalline variety of Quartz, more recently it has been shown that much Chalcedony is a mixture of Quartz and Moganite, another Silica mineral. Cryptocrystalline describes a rock texture that is made up of such minute crystals that its true crystalline nature is not apparent to the naked eye and can only be revealed using special microscopic viewing techniques. Chalcedony may be semitransparent or translucent and is usually white to grey, greyish-blue or some shade of brown, sometimes nearly black.
Onyx is a banded variety of Chalcedony, a cryptocrystalline form of quartz. The colours of its bands are white and black. Some onyx is natural but much is produced by the staining of agate. Suffice to say that the "Onyx" used by Turnbull & Asser is not stained agate.
Back to top
Silver is a chemical element with the periodic table symbol of Ag (from the traditional abbreviation for the Latin argentum). The word Silver derives from the Anglo Saxon word seolfor.
Silver is a very ductile and malleable (slightly harder than gold) univalent coinage metal with a brilliant white metallic lustre that can take a high degree of polish. It has the highest electrical conductivity of all metals, even higher than copper, but its greater cost and tarnishability has prevented it from being widely used in place of copper for electrical purposes.
Pure silver also has the highest thermal conductivity, whitest colour, the highest optical reflectivity (although it is a poor reflector of ultraviolet light), and the lowest contact resistance of any metal.
Because pure silver, also called fine silver, is relatively soft, very malleable, and easily damaged it is commonly combined with other metals to produce a more durable product. The most popular of these alloys is sterling, which consists of 92.5 percent silver and 7.5 percent copper.
Although any metal can make up the 7.5 percent non-silver portion of sterling, centuries of experimentation have shown copper to be its best companion, improving the metal's hardness and durability without affecting its beautiful colour.
The small amount of copper added to sterling has very little effect on the metal's value. Instead, the price of the silver item is affected by the labour involved in making the item, the skill of the craftsperson, and the intricacy of the design.
Most high quality silver items are stamped with a "fineness" or "quality" mark. This mark designates the precious metal content of the jewellery.
Because pure silver is so soft, it is generally only used when malleability is required, such as in handcrafted jewellery featuring weaving and other intricate designs.
Sterling Silver is most often used for jewellery and household accessories because of its combination of beauty and durability.
Mother of Pearl, more formally known as Nacre, is a naturally occurring organic / inorganic composite. Nacre is secreted by the glands of certain species of mollusc. In these molluscs, nacre is continually deposited onto the inner surface of the animal's shell (it is the iridescent nacreous layer so created, that is commonly known as mother of pearl), both as a means to smooth the shell itself and as a defence against parasitic organisms and damaging detritus.
Nacre is composed of hexagonal platelets of Calcium Carbonate (Ca CO3) crystals that are 10-20 µm wide and 0.5 µm thick, arranged in continuous parallel layers. The layers of platelets are separated by sheets of organic matrix that are composed of elastic biopolymers (such as chitin, lustrin and silk-like proteins). This mixture of brittle platelets and the thin layers of elastic biopolymers makes the material strong and resilient. Strength and resilience is enhanced by the ‘brickwork’ arrangement of the platelets, which inhibits transverse crack propagation. This design at multiple-length sizes increases its toughness enormously, making it almost equivalent to that of silica.
The iridescent appearance of Mother of Pearl is due to the fact that the thickness of the platelets, at about 0.5 micrometres, is comparable to the wavelength of visible light. This results in constructive and destructive interference of different wavelengths of light, resulting in different colours of light being reflected at different viewing angles.
Back to top
Cashmere is obtained from the cashmere or down goat. The cashmere used for quality clothing is taken from the soft, fine undercoat or under layer of hair. The straighter and much coarser outer coat is called guard hair.
Cashmere goats are principally found in the high plateaus or Asia at altitudes of up to 5,000 metres. The goat’s unusually fine undercoat has development over the millennia as a method of resisting the cold found at high altitudes. The name cashmere is derived from the Indian province of Kashmir, although relatively little is now produced in the area.
The goat’s hair is collected during the moulting season, a period of several weeks in spring, when the animals naturally shed their hairs. In China and Mongolia the down is removed by hand with a coarse comb. In New Zealand, Australia, Iran and Afghanistan the hair is collected by shearing. The coarse guard hair is separated from the fine undercoat hair by a process known as ‘dehairing’. One pound of goat hair produces approximately 4 to 6 ounces of cashmere hair fibres.
Cashmere fibres are highly adaptable and are easily constructed into fine or thick yarns, and light to heavy-weight fabrics. Appropriate for all climates. A high moisture content allows insulation properties to change with the relative humidity in the air.
Textiles made from cashmere are very soft, light and lustrous; it is the most expensive hair fibre. Cashmere is capable of being dyed to a broad range of colours and accepts dye equally as well as wool.
Back to top
Silk filament is produced by caterpillars (bombyx mori). For thirty-five days after it has hatched from the eggs laid by its parent moth, the caterpillar, normally referred to as a silkworm, spends its time eating the leaves of a mulberry tree. It then, in the course of two or three days' spinning, surrounds itself in a cocoon which consists of a continuous and very fine filament of silk. The silkworm then turns itself into a moth, which escapes by making a hole through the cocoon.
Each cocoon produces a filament between 650-975 yards in length. Between five and eight of these super-fine filaments are twisted together into one thread. The silk threads are then woven into cloth.
Silk is also a very strong fibre; indeed a silk filament is stronger than a steel filament of the same diameter.
Silk is viewed as both cool and warm. Fine filament silk is made into fabrics that contain a small volume of enclosed air. This allows the fabric to lie smoothly on the skin creating a cooling effect. However, the compact and fine silk filaments are also good insulators when a layer of warm air is formed between the fabric and the skin. If the layer of warm air is prevented from escaping, as in the case of silk lined gloves, then a very effective thermal insulation is created.
Shantung silk is a dupioni type of silk that originates from the Shantung province of China. Dupioni silk is reeled from two or more cocoons that are nested together. The resulting threads of yarn are coarse, irregular and uneven, which results in a stiff fabric that has a rough texture with many slubs, knots and bumps in it.
Back to top
Enamel (or vitreous enamel) is created by fusing powdered glass (usually of differing colours) to a substratum of metal or ceramic. The fusing process is achieved by firing (heating) at temperatures of between 750 and 850 degrees Celsius. This causes the glass powder to melt and flow to produce a hard, smooth and durable vitreous coating on metal, glass or ceramic. It is often applied in a paste form and may be transparent or opaque when fired. Vitreous enamel can be applied to most metals.
Enamelling is an old and widely-adopted technology. Most of the world’s leading civilisations practiced “Enamelling” including the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans and Chinese. The bright, jewel-like colours have also made enamel a favoured choice for designers of jewellery. Perhaps the most famous enameller was Peter Carl Fabergé who produced fabulous enamelled eggs for the Russian court. Enamelling was also a favourite technique of the Art Nouveau movement jewellers.
Back to top
The only products Turnbull & Asser currently offer containing bone are our ‘bone collar stays’. These are hand made.
The bone used in our collar stays comes from cows (Bos Indicus). Bone is a totally natural product and like leather is a by-product of the meat industry. Bone is bio-degradable and can be recycled.
Bone is a traditional material for collar stiffeners and is naturally strong and flexible.
Back to top