Turnbull & Asser, the gents' outfitters, were founded by Reginald Turnbull and Ernest Asser in 1885, and have been a presence in St. James's, London, ever since. The business moved to its current shop location in Jermyn Street in 1903.
Turnbull & Asser began to specialise in shirts from the 1920s and, to this day, their names are probably most closely associated with this item of clothing.
Turnbull & Asser shirts still have much to recommend them: they're made in England; they always use the best shirting material; they have steadfast (cross-lock stitched) mother-of-pearl buttons; and the experienced seamstresses at their Gloucester factory ensure that their 33 constituent parts are expertly put together (undoubtedly with love) as they hand-work their sewing machines to ensure that each shirt will iron like a dream, with nary a pucker to steam out of existence.
The shirting material Turnbull & Asser use in their shirts is either extra-long 2-fold Egyptian cotton — using two fine strands to make a single thread — or West Indian Sea Island cotton in Oxford, herringbone or poplin weaves. Sea Island cotton is a favourite of T&A customer James Bond when in the tropics. Turnbull & Asser can tell you much more about the weaves here.
As well as Bond, Ian Fleming, Prince Charles, Churchill, Steed and Gatsby have worn theTurnbull & Asser shirt. Essentially, this means that little more need be said on the matter. Quod erat demonstrandum.
However, we do need to mention the classic T&A collar, which has a relatively wide spread and a collar shape that flares out to the point of the collar — instantly recognisable. I think this shape sits very well under suits and works in harmony with ties, but we may need a structural engineer to explain the science behind this.
The collar is not fused (glued) to the interlining, as T&A prefer a more 'organic' construction they feel makes the collar more comfortable.
The classic T&A collar is not the only collar shape that Turnbull & Asser make. If you go bespoke you can have whatever collar you want. For ready-made, they stray into tiny collar territory with the Informalist range. Being a dyed-in-the wool traditionalist, I stick with the classic collar as shown on the striped shirts (top). Actually, the angle of the red and pink shirt doesn't show it well. I'm sure it is a classic collar, but it looks like a cutaway collar there. If you're desperate, I'll check, otherwise concentrate on the blue one.
And Another Thing
Actually, I'm thinking of something else we should mention too. We should look at Turnbull & Asser's famous turned-back 'cocktail' cuffs (below)— as seen on James Bond.
I'd go into more detail now, but the sun has actually put in an appearance this week and I have a date with a beer garden and a rare glass of Cwtch from Tiny Rebel Brewery, Newport, Gwent — a Welsh red ale and CAMRA's champion beer of last year. How could I say no to that? We'll come back to these cuffs...