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ABC Fursac

A
AAAAA
Developed by sheep farmers in Queensland, Australia, the highly exacting AAAAA grade denotes an exceptionally bright white, regular and long woollen fibre, obtained by protecting the sheep from the sun and rain using jersey jackets. Each one of these sheep requires half an acre to produce enough wool to make two suits.
B
Barathea
Barathea (or grain de poudre) is a woollen fabric – sometimes blended with mohair – mainly used for tuxedos and tailcoats. Black or midnight blue, this fabric is made from a finely combed thread.
Blazer
First seen at a 19th century English rowing club, and on the deck of a British frigate called the HMS Blazer, this double breasted, and traditionally navy blue, jacket has unquestionably nautical origins. Today the blazer is worn mainly on dry land and tends to be coupled with mismatched trousers.
Bow tie
Born in the 19th century and long considered a tie knot among so many others, this accessory was originally worn to the opera and obviously owes its name to its shape.
Broadcloth
Broadcloth refers to a fabric with a felted aspect, where the particularly tight crisscross of the weft and warp leave behind the initial grain of the fabric after the finishing processes are complete.
C
Caban Coat
While this short coat – recognisable thanks to its large collar and double buttons – was born in the desert, it quickly left Bedouin shoulders and was adopted by the European navigators of the 18th century. Timeless and waterproof, this great men’s wear classic has stood the test of time on terms of both fashion and bad weather.
Calfskin
Used to make high-end shoes and various other leather goods, this noble material is a “full grain” leather which retains the thick layer of skin formed beneath the calf’s epidermis (the ‘grain’ in question). Its beautiful surface, its flexibility and its resistance make it an exceptional leather that can be polished and even glazed.
Canvas
Canvas is different from other fabrics because it has no front or back. This is the result of a particular weaving method that alternately crosses the odd and even warp threads, to let the weft thread through.
Cardigan
This button-up sweater, generally made from wool, owes its existence to the attire and war time feat of James Thomas Brudenell, the seventh Earl of Cardigan. Shortly after having confronted Russian troops in the Crimean War, this British general decided to free himself of the restricting pull-over by splitting its collar with a sword, and thus inventing the garment that bears his name.
Cashmere
Supplied by goats from the Kashmir region, located between India, Pakistan and China, this prestigious wool owes its shimmering reputation to a particularly fine and silky fibre. A goat can provide only 50 to 130 grams of pure wool every spring and it takes the down of six beasts to make a single good quality cashmere sweater.
Caviar
This term denotes a motif with a pricked appearance and is used in the fabrication of certain suits and coats. Known as “bird’s eye” in England, this subtle plain effect weave is suitable for men looking to be both discreet and remarkable.
Chino
In the 19th century, this light-coloured cotton gabardine replaced, for the sake of discretion, the red tunics of English soldiers posted in India. Re-employed by the American army during the Second World War, the chino – thus called because the fabric is Chinese – found its place in wardrobes of demobilised GIs, and became popular on university campuses. It is still worn today in peace time, and if possible, under clement skies.
Club
Worn on a tie, the different colours of this motif have long allowed gentlemen and the British military to indicate their membership to a specific club or regiment. Times and codes have changed, but the term today still denotes a tie with large contrasting stripes.
D
Diamond point
This pyramidal motif reproduces, as its name suggests, the point of a cut diamond. It can be engraved on cufflinks or lighters, as well as ties.
Down jacket
Once discouraged everywhere but the ski slopes, this technical jacket, invented by a skier, is these days enjoyed by even the best-dressed urbanites. Well cut and flattering, the modern down coat is chic, having left behind the eiderdown originally transformed by Klaus Obermeyer - aeronautical engineer at Messerschmitt - in the 1950s to protect the chilled clientele of his Aspen ski school.
E
Egyptian cotton
Cultivated in the Nile valley since the 12th century BC, this brilliant, solid and soft fabric has fibres twice the length of other cotton varieties. Highly absorbent it allows for the production of jackets and shirts whose dye lasts for longer than with other categories of cotton.
End-on-end
This is a flecked fabric – in other words colours alternate – achieved by successively interweaving light threads with dark threads. Its depth gives character to clothes, and to those who wear it.
F
Fair Isle
Having first come to light in the 19th century on a small Scottish island in the famous Shetland archipelago, this polychromatic pattern had its moment of glory in 1921 when the Prince of Wales – and elegance – Edward VIII wore it in public as a cardigan. Traditionally composed of geometric forms (crosses, lozenges or hexagons) and in four colours, today it comes in an infinite variety of motifs and alternating nuances.
Flannel
Flannel is combed wool or cotton fabric, which appeared in the 18th century coinciding with the introduction of the first looms. An imperishable classic in English drapery, this warm fabric with a slight fuzz (due to washing at the end of the production process) permits the elegant man to face the winter months without shivering.
French cuffs
A chic legacy from the outfits worn by the French king’s cavaliers in the 17th century, these shirt sleeve cuffs folded back on themselves are generally fastened with a pair of cufflinks.
G
Gabardine
Naturally elastic, strong and waterproof, gabardine denotes a weave with oblique ribbing deriving from the serge, as well as the rainproof garments tailored from this cotton fabric. 
Gauge
This unit of measurement is used to calculate the number of stitches and knitted rows on a length of 38 mm (an inch and a half). The higher the number, the finer the knit. The gauges generally range between 3 and 18.
Goodyear welt
The Goodyear welt is a procedure that involves sewing a welt – a strip of leather, rubber or plastic – onto a shoe to link the different parts (the upper, the insole and the outsole), thus reinforcing it while maintaining flexibility. This method owes its name to Charles Goodwin Jr who industrialised the technique in the 19th century. But while his father, inventor of the rubber vulcanisation technique, clearly inspired the famous tyre manufacturer when naming his company, neither party is otherwise related.  
Grenadine silk
Actually born in Grenada, but sold and popularised by the Florentine merchants of the 15th century, this beautiful material is distinguished by the high tension of its double thread, its lightness and the relief of its fabric. Today it is used to make textured ties with subtle elegance.
H
Hem gusset
A small piece of triangular cut fabric used to strengthen the side seams at the hem of a shirt. It is the sign of a quality garment, and something men should pay close attention to at the time of purchase.
Houndstooth
Definitely retro but never outdated, it has a two-tone cross weave. Originally from Scotland, its finest hour came in the 1950, before being elegantly restored to the heart of both men’s and women’s wear in more recent years.
J
Jacquard
A fabric with complex motifs which owes its name to the automatic loom used for its production, itself conceived in Lyon in 1801 in the workshops of Joseph-Marie Jacquard. A unique combination of three previous innovations (Basile Bouchon’s perforated paper tape, Jean-Baptiste’s continuous loop of perforated cards and Jacques Vaucanson’s cylinder, also perforated), the Jacquard loom revolutionised the sector and was capable of doing the work of five people. A development deemed unpopular by competitors (the famous Lyon weavers known as the “canuts”) who rose up in 1831 and tried to destroy Jacquard’s machines by striking them with clogs (sabots in French). But while we might owe the word “sabotage” to the canuts’ revolt, the industrialists chose to support Jacquard and his loom took the place of other older techniques. A predecessor to the computer (because the perforated cards are programmable), the Jacquard loom has today grown considerably and now produces almost all patterned fabrics used for clothing, furnishings and domestic linens. 
Jersey
This knitted fabric, in wool or cotton, appeared in the middle ages on the Channel Island of the same name. The quality of a jersey garment increases with the finesse of its knit.
L
Large houndstooth
As its name indicates, the pattern of this fabric is a very similar to houndstooth, but is slightly bigger.
M
Madder silk
Denotes a silk that was originally a dark pink - once dyed using the natural colour of the madder - and which gave the major British tie-makers their acclaim. Today its matt, velvety and always dark finish allows for the perfection of motifs.
Merino wool
This superior wool, originating in Australia and New Zealand bears the same name as the breed of sheep that provide it. Bright, warm and light, it is distinguished by the extreme finesse of its fibres, three times thinner than those of classic wool (which varies 30 to 50 microns, while Merino oscillates between 17 and 25). It is known as ‘Extrafine’ when the thread thickness is less than 19 microns.
Mignonnette
The French term for the lining of jacket sleeves, as required by traditional artisan tailoring.
Mohair
Provided by angora goats from Asia Minor, this wool is as light as it is insulating and protects from the cold, the heat and any risk of inelegance. Blended with other fabrics it can also soften the cloth of certain suits.
Mother of pearl
White, iridescent and naturally produced by its oceanic owners, mother-of-pearl coats the interior of numerous mollusc shells. Softened in boiling water, then flattened and cut to the desired shape, it becomes a much sought after product for decoration and marquetry, as well as the fabrication of jewellery and buttons. 
O
Ottoman silk
The name of this thick Turkish silk these days denotes a ribbed weave motif of certain ties.
P
Panama
Not only does it take its name from the most stylish of hats produced in Ecuador since the 18th century (and shipped from Panama to the rest of the globe), but the panama fabric also owes them its woven appearance, achieved through a meticulous square weave of multiple weft and warp threads. At Lanificio F.lli Cerruti this is a four-thread weave with two weft threads crossing two warp threads. 
Pin stripes / Tennis stripes
“Tennis stripes” in France and “pin stripes” in England where they notably streaked Winston Churchill’s suits during the Second World War, these longitudinal stripes sit spaced a few centimetres apart. Effectively whether they were used by sailors or by English bankers of the 19th century, it was on the shirts of tennis pioneers that they had their first taste of glory, before gradually being adopted off the court by all men of good taste.
Piqué cotton
A fresh, spongy cotton fabric whose four-thread tension (two warps and two wefts) gives relief to its motif in the form of lozenges, squares or aligned points. Piqué is frequently used in the manufacturing of polo shirts.
Plastron
This piece of fabric, fixed or removable, was long used to cover the torsos of cowboys, cavalry officers, hussars and men of the world. Today the plastron shirt is no longer a sign of physical and social invulnerability, but continues – when worn with a tuxedo or tail-coat – to be an essential element in men’s wardrobe for the most formal of soirees.
Pocket square
This piece of fabric was originally a simple perfume handkerchief, ensuring the nasal hygiene of ancient Greeks, French nobility and even Richard II of England. In the 19th century it emigrated from the trouser pocket to the jacket breast pocket and in the 1920s it became a fashion accessory. A few decades later Cary Grant and Gary Cooper immortalised it as a symbol of elegance.
Poplin
Initially baptised “papeline” in honour of the Holy Father for whom it was made in Avignon, poplin is a light and supple fabric where there are twice as many warp threads as weft threads. Once made of wool and silk, this material is today more frequently made in cotton.
Prince of wales
While the future Edward VII was the first Prince of Wales to wear this highborn fabric in the 19th century, it was to his successor that it owes its name and part of its reputation. Rapidly adopted by the British and Americans - it covered the royal shoulders of Edward VIII during a visit to New York – in the 20th century, this nuanced grid pattern went from an indispensable country-style to a major classic of urban masculinity.
R
Raglan
The term denotes a type of sleeve that starts at the collar and joins the underarm. Wider than a conventional sleeve, it was invented by Lord Raglan, a British officer who lost his arm during the battle of Waterloo and wanted to put his coat on without constraint. The chic man in a hurry has him to thank.
S
Sablé wool
The name of a satin weave whose tidy yet attractively oblique grain evokes the sandy (sablé in French) beaches over which you might run hands this coming summer. With a Natural Stretch, the incredibly comfortable sablé wool produced by the House of Lanificio F.lli Cerruti tastefully adapts to the silhouette of its owner and is never excessively shiny (unlike a classic satin weave). Blended with a jacquard by the Italian draper it also permits for subtle patterns. 
Seersucker
This waffled-effect material, traditionally in blue and white stripes, first appeared in India in the 18th century. Adapted to the wetness of its native climate, it was quickly exported to become a summer classic in the United States. Worn in Congress until the arrival of air conditioning in the 1950s, seersucker is available these days in a wide variety of colours, and still dissipates heat just as efficiently. The American tradition of “Seersucker Thursday” continues to require that men and women wear seersucker suits in Congress, the second or third Thursday in the month of June.
Serge
Denotes a fabric whose inter-woven threads have light, oblique stripes.
Shearling
Denotes a supple fabric where the sheep or lamb’s wool is worn inside the coat. With its sanded skin the exterior of the garment has a velvety or oiled appearance. Its thickness depends of the climate in which the selected animals have been reared.
Silk
The empress of noble fabrics, whose trade secret was jealously guarded by the Chinese for over 2500 years, silk is the only natural textile fibre whose thread is continuous. It is taken from the cocoon of the Bombyx Mori caterpillar, also called the silkworm, and its appearance varies according to the way it is woven or worked.
Slip stitch
This little thread at the interlining of a tie will restore its original form after having been stretched.
Stays
Supple stays are called ‘baleines’ in French, in reference to the whalebone which was long used to stiffen corsetry. Their modern cousins, often removable and synthetic, are today slipped into shirt collars to ensure a perfect shape, and give (you) a clear conscience. Suffice to say a certain pleasure can be procured from going without…
Stripes
A motif for the marginalised and heretics of the middle ages, for childhood, for pleasure and for business men since the 19th century, stripes are a melting pot of contradictory symbolism. Chosen well they remain an unquestionable sign of elegance.
Super 120’s, 130’s, 150’s…
The grades given by the IWTO (International Wool Textile Organization), known as SUPER 120’s, 130’s or 150’s, denote the fineness of a wool fibre used to weave a fabric. The higher the figure, the finer the fibre. The diameter of every 100’s wool fibre must measure no more than 18.75 microns. The 110’s should be 18.25 microns, the 120’s 17.75 microns… you just have to take away 0.5 microns to know the subsequent diameters.
T
Tie
The French for tie, cravat most probably derives from a corruption of the word “Croat” in reference to the scarf worn by Balkan mercenaries under Louis XIII – the word denoted accessories before the regatta tie of the 19th century gave it its final form. Longer, narrower and more sober than its ancestors in lace or puffed out bows, the mother of our current ties is quicker to knot. A strong argument that will appeal to the generations of men as busy as they are elegant.
Tower placket
The tower placket, or button placket, denotes, for the less poetic, the band of fabric that reinforces the opening of a shirt sleeve at the cuff.
Trench-coat
Conceived by Thomas Burberry for the English officers in the First World War, the trench coat, as waterproof as it is elegant, came with the soldiers into town when the war was over, and ended up seducing civilians. Immortalised by Humphrey Bogart in Casablanca in 1942, it became - with its under collar flap, where once before the butt of a rifle rested, its ten double breasted buttons, its belt and epaulettes - the uniform of detectives and an eternal ally of elegant men.
Turbo 180
Produced using an AAAAA wool, this material represents the very highest level of quality exclusively produced by Lanificio F.lli Cerruti for Fursac, thanks to the extreme finesse of its fibre – less than 16 microns. It’s the superior quality of its thread that gives richness and depth to its shades, its wide range of luminosities and the unequalled precision of design it allows. The Turbo 180 wool is so light it requires 150 kilometres of thread to obtain just one kilo.
Tuxedo
The required decorum of a 19th century British gentlemen managing his guests’ sense of smell meant that the smoking jacket was originally worn exclusively in the smoking room. Seduced by the garment, the American James Potter transgressed the rule and in 1886 wore this jacket with its satin lapels to the Tuxedo Club in New York. He popularised the use of its new name. Completed with braided trousers, a plastron shirt and a bow tie, in the 20th century this ensemble became the signature attire for men frequenting casinos and cocktail parties, or her Majesty’s Secret Services, like James Bond.
Tweed
This legendary Scottish fabric in carded wool – used to make hunting jackets in the 19th century – has long been dressing gentlemen farmers, British undergrads and even Sherlock Holmes. Robust and really very chic, tweed received the blessing of haute couture in 1950s, but has remained a timeless purveyor of winter jackets.
V
Velvet
Matt and smooth on one side, soft and silky on the other, this Oriental fabric, imported into Europe by the Italians in the 14th century, was then made in silk and remained essentially a luxury product until the end of the 19th century. Used to make workman’s trousers in a ribbed version known as corduroy, the king’s fabric was democratised and earned its stripes as both a mainstream and prestigious material.
Virgin wool
This is what we call fibres that come from the first shearing of a sheep or lamb. They have been neither spun nor felted nor part of any other finished product, and contain no more than 0.3% of impurities.
Viscose
This derivative of cellulose is a textile with vegetal origins. Breathable, lightweight and soft, viscose is easily dyed and retains its colours well. Coming from renewable, barely treated cultures, it is also biodegradable.
W
Waistcoat
Since its inception in the 18th century, this descendent of the doublet has lost its sleeves and few centimetres, but has preserved a certain refinement. Worn under a jacket, it becomes the capital element of a man’s three-piece suit.
Welt
Folded and tucked into a seam, this band of fabric gives the pockets and button holes it trims a resolutely chic finish.