In Appreciation of Summer Tweed

The difference between a painting and a print are at once subtle and striking. Put a reproduction next to the original, and the former seems flat, dull, and inanimate, whereas the latter is vibrant, engaging, and alive. For some, the simple fact that a particular work of art is the genuine article justifies its superiority, but for me the reason is not provenance, it’s visceral: the texture of brush strokes.

Texture, like many things in life, adds interest and depth to the otherwise mundane and can make something good even better. This is why we take the scenic route instead of the freeway and add chocolate chips to vanilla ice cream, and also why I love Derek’s summer tweed. A 9/10 ounce blend of 60% linen and 40% silk, it offers a visual and tactile uniqueness that is rarely seen in fabric, an intriguing amalgam of irregular consistency and soft hand, dancing between light and shadow.

summer tweed derek
summer tweed texture

Naturally, it sold out quickly, but he’s running it again, and you’d better get it while you can. After wearing it for a year, I can say that it works equally fine as a suit or sport coat, keeping its shape better than pure linen. Pure silk can run hot, but due to its semi-open weave it isn’t noticeably warmer than other fabrics of the same weight, and it may the reason why it maintains a crease better than pure linen and almost as good as any wool.

You’d think that such an interesting and versatile cloth would be readily available, but in fact, the opposite is true. Inspired by a photo of Taka from Liverano & Liverano in a raw silk sport coat, Derek searched for a summer fabric along these lines, but after so many dead-ends he was forced to produce his own, and I’m glad he did. I was able to chat with Derek for a little more background about the fabric:

How many tries did it take for you to be happy with the results from the mill?
It took a few tries. It was mostly about nailing down the color. I wanted something that I thought could be worn with tan or grey trousers, either light or mid grey, but was also light enough to show the speckling throughout. If the fabric was too dark, the flecks wouldn’t show as much. If the fabric was too light, it was going to limit how some people could pair it with trousers.

Has anything changed from the last runs?
Nope, it’s all the same specs and manufacturer!

Have you had it made up?
I have a length saved for myself, but I haven’t had it made up just yet. I’ve been wanting to use an Italian tailor for this cloth. Until very recently, however, we haven’t had any Italian tailors visit San Francisco. Now we have two, I Sarti Italiani and Sartoria Solito. I currently have two sport coats on order with Solito, and depending on how they turn out, I plan on giving him this length next. 

Any plans for future cloth runs?
I do. I have some plans for classic, but still somewhat contemporary and casual, fabrics that I think would work well as sport coats. They’ve actually been in the works forever. A lot of my time has been taken up by other work, but I’m hoping to come out with some things soon. Fingers crossed!

If your summer takes you down a road where a suit is required, you might as well take the scenic route with Derek’s summer tweed. With or without a tie, paired with an ascot, dress or sport shirt, I’ve yet to find a better warm-weather fabric with as much texture and interest. Below are pics of me wearing it as a suit, Kenji and Andy wearing it as a double-breasted sport coat, and Mitchell wearing it as a single-breasted sport coat.

summer tweed suit
summer tweed fabric
summer tweed pitti uomo
summer tweed denim shirt
summer tweed sport coat

Pictures courtesy of Andy Poupart, Mitchell Moss, Kenji of Bryceland’s, Pier Wijk, and Robert Spangle.

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Peter works in construction, but has an extensive collection of custom suits which he gets so that he can wear suits on the weekend. Even though he lives in San Francisco, he has never used the word "impact" as a verb. He writes about classic menswear and is one fedora away from being a complete dork.

5 thoughts on “In Appreciation of Summer Tweed

  1. Peter, you nailed it with that suit. I can’t imagine a more attractive and versatile combination than genuine Linen/Silk blend fabric. I do hope it becomes more readily available and at a competitive price, although I would expect the cost to remain slightly beyond reach of the average fellow. I could be wrong.

    Your opening statement is quite correct; “the difference between a painting and a print are at once subtle and striking”. To the untrained eye the discerning difficulty increases if the print is a lithograph or serigraph, which does not show the pixels and has been enhanced. I have encountered on occasion lithographic prints being offered for retail sale disguised as oil paintings, where a clear lacquer was brush stroked over the print to appear as a original painting. The give-away was the brush stokes were large and consistently in the same direction, although the image appeared vibrant, lively and engaging.

    I would imagine that a synthetic silk and linen blend fabric (like knock-off paintings) will hit the market eventually, if not already available, as a new avenue of intellectual property theft. LOL

    • Thanks for your kind words, Raleigh; I’m really happy with Derek’s cloth and how it was made up by I Sarti Italiani. Comparatively speaking, the cloth is no more or less than other fabrics, and its subdued uniqueness makes it even more worth the cost IMO. The cheapest I’ve ever paid for cloth (that wasn’t marked down) was $50/yard, and the most expensive…I’d rather not say 🙂

  2. Hi Peter,

    Do you happen to know the measurement of the leg opening?
    I’m thinking of letting out a pair of trousers and those look great.

    • Hi Joe,

      The leg opening on these is a middle-of-the-road 8.5″. What separates these trousers from others is not just the leg opening though; it’s the fit from the seat down. It’s roomier, but not so much that it looks anachronistic. Styles seem to be heading more and more in that direction, so you may be able to find some RTW options that have a similar silhouette.

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