Wednesday, July 23, 2014

'Know Your Fabrics' - End-on-End

Still churning through our ‘Know Your Fabrics’ series, we’re back at it this week with a look at ‘End-on-End’, another very popular fabric used primarily in shirting.

End-on-end fabric (also called ‘fil-a-fil’ by the French - translates to ‘thread to thread’) is actually very similar to Poplin in that they are made using a one-to-one square weave, resulting in a nice smooth fabric. However, end-on-end gets a characteristic added visual depth by swapping out the horizontal threads with white, similar to the warp and weft threads in denim (although denim is produced in a twill weave).

The result is a shirt fabric that doesn’t appear as flat and even as a poplin or broadcloth, instead taking on a heathered, or even finely checked appearance up close. This adds some versatility as it makes the shirt easier to dress down (although still wholly acceptable as a formal dress shirt). These fabrics also tend to break in well over time, and can even achieve ‘fades’ like you see in denim as the white horizontal threads become more visible through the vertical colored threads.

The hand of the fabric remains very similar to poplin or broadcloth, as the close weave results in a lighter, smoother fabric, and thus it’s tendency to be used as a shirting fabric (rather than heavier fabrics that can be applied to trousers, outerwear, etc.).

End-on-end shirts are almost always woven with a single color (and the white threads), although sometimes textile producers will swap out the white threads for a second color, or will incorporate some stripes into the pattern (usually thin, white stripes).

Perhaps the most popular variation on end-on-end (at least in my wardrobe, and the modern menswear scene), is chambray, which differentiates from standard end-on-end only in the finishing process, which normally involves some type of ‘glazing’ or ‘calendaring’ to give it that characteristic hint of shine.

As we’ve mentioned, this fabric is almost exclusively used for shirting, although with the experimental nature of evolving fashion trends, I’m sure you can find it used in other applications somewhere. For now, though, we’re sticking to shirts, and have picked out a few of our favorites for anyone looking to add some end-on-end to their wardrobes:

First, about as classic as you get, here’s a solid number from Everlane. I’m a big fan of end-on-end shirts in these lighter, spring-timey colors like mint or this peachy red. I think the white threads help give a bit of a worn-and-washed look that keeps you out of ‘easter sunday’ outfit territory:
Slim Fit End-On-End in Red | Everlane
J.Crew also has some great end-on-end shirts in solid colors, and many are currently significantly marked down. 

We also mentioned that end-on-end shirts often incorporate a fine stripe, like this one from Brooks Brothers:
Blue End-on-End with White Stripe Sport Shirt | Brooks Brothers
You’ll find stripes in other colors, but we think just a subtle white one is the way to go:

While not as popular or widely available, you can occasionally find end-on-end shirts woven in other patterns as well, like this checked fabric available at Proper Cloth:

Thomas Mason Pink End on End Check | Proper Cloth
Because of the versatility inherent to an end-on-end fabric, we think it’s a great choice for a MTM shirt. Beyond the above, Proper Cloth currently has several other options in end-on-end fabric, in stripes, checks and solids.

Last, since we mentioned it’s very close relationship to plain old end-on-end, here’s one our recent favorites in chambray. It's not cheap by any means, but this popover from J.Crew is high on my wish-list:
Japanese Chambray Popover | J.Crew

Do you have any end-on-end fabrics in your wardrobe? Any favorite pieces? Share in the comments!

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