Thomas Mason: The World’s Best Shirt Fabrics
Posted: Apr 21 2015
Thomas Mason was founded in Leeds, England, in 1796, in the midst of the first industrial revolution. Steam engines began to replace manual and animal labor. The pace of global change and innovation increased exponentially. Mr. Mason capitalized on this by setting up modern fabric production to satisfy the times’ demand for fine clothing.
The fabrics were prized immediately and used by the tailors of West London. During the 1800’s, the British empire expanded, and epicenters of fine men’s tailoring such Jermyn Street and Savile Row took shape. Throughout, Thomas Mason gained evermore notoriety as a go to source for textiles, and their fabrics were valued all over the globe.
In 1936, the British royal family started wearing Thomas Mason, which had become the exclusive fabric supplier to the royal court’s tailor. Not only for aristocratic purposes, specially designed Thomas Mason fabrics were used by Royal Air Force pilots during WWI, a testament to the fabrics’ durability.
In 1992, Thomas Mason was bought by the Albini family of Bergamo, Italy. If anyone could be entrusted with the Thomas Mason heritage, it’s the Albinis. Their master weavers continue their craft, handed down through generations. Mr. Silvio Albini (pictured left/above), President of the Albini Group, is the 5th generation of the family to head the company. With the purchase came access to extensive fabric samples, dating all the way back to the early 1800s. Thomas Mason’s meticulous designers now draw on the rich British heritage while adding a distinct Italian flair.
"In the apparel industry, fabrics make a big difference. Colors and models change rapidly, but quality must be constant”, says Silvio.
The firm sources some of the finest cotton available, much of it from their own plantations in the fertile soil of the Nile delta, where the climate conditions give rise to the best extra long staple cottons. These fine yarns are then sent for spinning, weaving and finishing in Albini’s state-of-the-art facilities in Italy. This vertical integration is key to ensuring top quality processes at every stage of production. After initially checking the yarn in Albini’s private ISO-certified lab with six skilled technicians, each meter of the woven fabric is checked with loupe both before and after the finishing process. This ensures that every piece is up to the world-class standards Thomas Mason sets for itself. Silvio talks proudly about his company’s quality, “The best Egyptian cotton; to spin it is very difficult, to weave it is very difficult, to finish it is very difficult, but the result is outstanding”.
Silvio Albini is highly respected in textile circles, acting as President for Milano Unica, arguably the world’s most important textile tradeshow. While we can wax lyrical about top class fabrics for hours, one of the other members of the association - and an equally respected cloth maker - Mr. Loro Piana, perfectly sums up the need for experiencing a true high quality product first hand: "It is like tasting some excellent wine after having always consumed lower-quality one". Trust the Italians to come up with a perfect wine metaphor! (We prefer butter similes ourselves.)
We offer a wide range of Thomas Mason fabrics, most with a 120/2 thread count and wonderful silky feel, which is known to cause slight addictions. The strength of the two-ply yarns means the fabrics get even softer and retain their lustre through many washes. Our white Thomas Mason fabrics are made from special Giza 87 cotton. These yarns are incredibly pure, with a very high level of luminosity, resulting in absolute white shirts. The production requires extremely precise processes, starting with washing the raw material by hand in Egypt. The cotton is then passed in front of a special camera that detects any impurities, which are subsequently removed. Through a careful weaving process, this results in a soft and brilliantly white fabric.
For anyone who’s visited our dear hometown of Bangkok, you’ve no doubt seen Egyptian cotton shirts advertised on every other street corner. Unfortunately this tends to be false. Egyptian cotton only represents a tiny percentage of the world’s cotton production, which results in a higher price - so be wary of deals that are most likely too good to be true.
At Tailor On Ten, we’re proud to offer genuine Egyptian cotton, courtesy of Thomas Mason (all Egyptian cotton should have a reputable mill attached to it). The shirts come with individually printed certificates of authenticity and labels in the shirt as well as Thomas Mason’s own branded gussets and collar stays. These lustrous shirts look great with our complimentary mother of pearl buttons. We carry at least 35 different styles at any given time, and re-stock regularly. So next time you’re at our shop, keep an eye out for the Thomas Mason label.
Please click here to see our curated range of Thomas Mason or shop online now.