The Budd Field Trip to Alumo
March 2017 saw the Budd team make a pilgrimage to the temple of men’s shirting, Alumo. Set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Swiss Alps, the pristine mill is recognised as the world’s leading producer of the highest quality two-fold cotton shirt fabrics. Their standing at the pinnacle of fine fabric weaving stems from their exacting standards, and an incomparable dedication to quality and creativity that spans almost 100 years. Perhaps the best example of their characteristically Swiss precision can be found in the fact that of the 26 million tons of cotton produced worldwide each year, only 3% meets the Alumo standard!
After an indulgent lunch with the Alumo team, Budd’s Managing Director, Stephen Murphy and Cutter, James Macauslan began their grand tour around the company’s spotlessly clean mill. Manager Alexander walking us through the production process, from raw materials through to finishing, pointing out everything from temperature and moisture controls to soluable starch baths and terrifying giant robot hoovers that patrol the floors for flying fibres along the way.
Alumo carries over 8 different yarn counts, each one woven in their own exclusive colours, lending for a total collection of over 3000 patterns and colourways. They can literally produce any pattern imaginable. Our favourites included Searsuckers, glorious Royal Oxfords and wonderful jacquard paisleys.
Budd’s relationship with Alumo is almost as old as the mill itself. Our continued relationship is testament to our faith in their shirtings and the plethora of patterns and qualities offered, meaning that we can always fulfill both our shop designs and the requirements (and whims) of our bespoke and made to measure customers. We carry a vast gamut of Alumo’s two-ply designs at Budd. Our collection offers everything from simple day- to-day shirtings with an easy 100/2 x 100/2 count through to luxurious 200/2 x 200/2 examples. From an easy Oxford or a cosy Cashmarello (cotton/cashmere blend); the lightest Voile and Batiste cottons; or the delight of Zephyr and Sea Island cottons, Alumo’s shirting offer comfort combined with a silky handle, making them wonderful to wear.
We love their passion, their dedication and most of all, their cloth!
What does all the jargon mean when talking shirting?
You might see a fabric’s construction described as “100/2×100/2″. The way to read this is that it has 100s two-ply threads running in both the warp and weft directions. At Budd,our shirtings tend to range from 100/2 x 100/2 up to 200/2 x 200/2.
A fancy fabric might be described as “140/2+70/1×70/1+140/2.″ This would denote a 140s two-ply fabric that has 70s single ply threads interwoven to create a texture or pattern. We’d be surprised if you were bamboozled with such an equation whilst at the shop, but since we are on the subject it is handy to know.
Let’s clear up another thing here. There is often a misconception that the super numbers applied to cloths (100s, 120s, 140s etc.) indicate threads per square inch. This is NOT the case. The numbers do indeed refer to threads, but are used indicate their length and fineness. A higher number denotes a finer the yarn and a more luxurious cloth.
Two-Ply and Three-Ply
Ply is the quantity of yarns twisted together to make a single thread. The majority of the shirting used by Budd is two-ply. This means that two yarns are twisted together to make a single thread that is then woven to make the fabric. Alumo also produces a range of Triplo, three-ply cloths, but in our mind, two-ply makes for the best handle and finish.
Warp and Weft
Warp threads run vertically. Weft (easy to remember by thinking “LEFT to right) yarns run horizontally. Different types of threads are often used in the warp and weft directions in order to achieve pattern and texture.
So what should I choose?
Just as when choosing suiting fabrics, a lower thread count does not dictate that a cloth isn’t good. It usually makes for a solid, hard working fabric that is perfect for day to day and more casual wear. Go with the handle and finish you prefer, thinking about how and where you will wear the shirt and importantly, how putting it on will make you feel.
Budd only works with the top shirting mills (such as Alumo, Monti, Thomas Mason and Testa), allowing for us to be confident in the knowledge that they carefully source, treat and weave all of their yarn to the highest standards. Therefore, whichever the shirting and thread count you opt for, you can rest assured that it will be of the best quality available.