Malibu, CA — Introducing our new Terry Cloth Camp Shirts made from dead stock, 100% cotton terry cloth fabrics, cut and tailored by hand in our Marrakech atelier. Shop our new, one-of-a-kind summer collection online and at our Malibu store. Read on to discover more about this luxurious fabric.
What is Terry Cloth?
Definition of Terry (according to Merriam-Webster) (ter·ry | \ ˈter-ē , ˈte-rē \) :
- Terry is the loop forming the pile in uncut pile fabrics.
*Pile, in textiles, is the raised surface or a fabric where the loops are upright. Examples include terry cloth, corduroy, and velvet. The opposite is a flat weave such as our kilim which we use to make our signature men's kilim loafers.
- Terry cloth is an extremely absorbent and soft fabric because the threads/loops stand off the fabric on both sides, which doubles its surface area to create more absorbency and increase softness.
- Terry cloth (modern terry) is a thick, 100% cotton cloth fabric especially used for drying purposes. Its traditional form was silk and later developed with cotton. Its uses included products like bed linens, towels, bathrobes. Its modern uses have evolved to include products like resort beachwear & luxury leisure wear, as well as blazers, dresses, shorts and more.
A Brief History of Terry Cloth
Best known for its water absorption, you probably encounter terry cloth fabric at least once a day when you step out of a shower and use your towel to dry off. You may also distinctly remember Sean Connery's iconic little blue terry cloth romper featured in the first Bond blockbuster Goldfinger. However, terry cloth first came onto the scene hundreds of years prior to that 1964 summer at the Fontainebleau Hotel on Miami Beach.
Sean Connery as James Bond in Goldfinger, Miami Beach, 1964. (photo sourced from thunderballs.org)
Our story and the story of the terry cloth, the terry cloth towel, and the terry cloth weaving technique cross paths in one major way: Res Ipsa and terry cloth each have deep ties to Turkey. According to the Manchester Textile Institute and as it is commonly known, terry cloth weaving was first developed in Turkey in the 17th century and was developed using silk (cotton came later). Interestingly, terry weaving was discovered by accident — it was first known a defective weaving construction. Later, terry cloth weaving was considered an evolution in the development of woven fabrics. It was also said terry cloth popularized towels and thus, bathing.
Before it was developed at scale, terry cloth was created on a hand loom with two warp threads where one loop was left loose and after being pulled through, a loop formed on both sides of the fabric, thus "piling" up. The original name for these looped towels which were known as "havly." Over time, this word changed to "havlu," the Turkish word for towel, and means ‘with loops’
Brought to the west from Turkey, terry cloth technique first appeared in France in 1841. It is believed the name terry cloth comes from the French verb “tirer,” which means “to pull," explained by how the fabric is made. Terry cloth was introduced the UK and by 1850 it was industrially produced at scale for the first time. Over the years, terry cloth evolved from its traditional uses of towels and linens to its most modern form as clothing.
"Terry cloth is out of the bathroom and stepping into the office, the board room and the dinner party." An excerpt from the NYT, published April 26, 1979.
By the 1930's, terry cloth was the preferred choice of towel at luxury hotels worldwide and was seen a symbol of status among the rich and famous. It took well into the mid-20th century before terry cloth finally became popularized among the general public as the go-to men's and women's resort leisure wear and much more. In spring of 1979, the New York Times published an article, "Terry Cloth: All Dressed Up," that mentioned the recent retail success that terry cloth was having across the United States. They wrote, "Terry cloth apparel is among the most successful spring items this year, retailers say, and its new looks are showing up in store windows, catalogues and sprightly displays on the selling floor in men's, women's and children's wear departments."
Beginning in the late 1970's, terry cloth was famously fashioned by designers like Ralph Lauren into blazers, dresses, shirts, shorts and more for all to wear for all occasions. Terry was the talk of town all for its sense of sporty and casual style, comfort, and durability. It made a waves across fashion houses and the public again in the 90's before washing out until its rise again in more recent years.
Terry Cloth and Res Ipsa
Res Ipsa Marrakech atelier
Today, we follow our Moroccan and Americana-inspired style & spin on terry cloth by repurposing dead stock terry cloth towels into our one-of-a-kind Terry Cloth Camp Shirts and Terry Cloth Shirt Jackets. In line with our core beliefs that every product should have a story and in our endless effort to reduce waste, we created a collection of terry cloth shirts by hand at our Marrakech atelier using fabrics that other brands would have otherwise let go to waste.