Corozo Buttons

Posted: Jul 15 2014

Did you know that our beautiful corozo nut buttons are a result of 19th century sea travel innovation and an epic love story? Read on…

As you might know, we are slightly obsessed with buttons. We believe they can make or break a suit, and accordingly we have put a lot of effort into sourcing the best buttons in the world. For suits we offer premium horn, bone and shell alternatives. Now we’re introducing exclusive corozo nut buttons complimentary with every suit!

Corozo nuts are the seeds from the tropical tagua palm, which grows in the northwest of South America. The tree’s scientific name is phytelephas macrocarpas, which translates to ‘elephant plant’, inspired by the size of the fruit and the similarity its nuts hold to elephant ivory.

The fruit is about a foot in diameter and contains seeds, which solidify into to a white substance. The seeds are picked, dried and peeled. The remaining material is very hard and can be cut, pressed, heated, burned, laser etched, bleached, tinted, and polished. Being a natural material, it has a certain grain, giving it a nice slightly irregular look, unlike plastic buttons that all look the same. The hardness of the material means it has a cool, heavy feel and is highly scratch-resistant. Dyes soak deep into the nut, leaving a vibrant color that resists fading, even in rain or machine washing.

The dyes are non-toxic and biodegradable. In fact, the entire process is sustainable, as nuts are picked once fallen naturally. The local economy is supported through significant job creation. Other parts of the palms are used for construction and before hardening, the nuts are actually edible (resembling coconuts).

So, what’s this love story? Well, sailors travelling from South America to Europe began using the heavy tagua nuts as ballast in the mid-1800s, replacing sand, which risked sinking the ships when it got wet. A German artist discovered the nuts’ suitability to carving and soon established a tagua business in Ecuador. Some carving was done in Italy and as business was booming, the Italians wanted in, establishing their own tagua trading post, not far from the German base. With the advent of cheap plastic production and shifted priorities in the run-up to WWI, interest faded, with the German company closing down and the Italian one barely scraping by. In the 60s and 70s there was a resurgence in demand for natural materials. Meanwhile, by a true twist of fate, the grandchildren of the two original families had become romantically involved and in 1982 they united to retake the tagua business. They eventually started making buttons, developing state-of-the-art machinery and perfecting cutting, polishing and dyeing techniques.

Tailoring is a business where the importance of craftsmanship is only matched by that of heritage and natural quality. As you can tell, corozo buttons have these virtues in abundance – that is why we love them… And why you’ll love us for using them to elevate your suits!


1. Natural grain making each button unique

2. Deep, vibrant dye

3. Smooth, heavy and precisely cut

4. Scratch and water-resistant

5. Best of all: Tailor On Ten-exclusive!

Read more about our buttons here.

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