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Brushed Cotton: a Cloth of Style and Substance

Today's weather is a temperamental beast at the best of times - this meteorological fickleness makes it pretty difficult to know what to put on your back before you leave the house in the morning. Luckily, we have a solution for tackling this sartorial dilemma in the form of brushed cotton shirts. We interviewed Luca Faloni, founder of the brand, and Chiara Rubinelli, from Italian artisanal mill Grandi & Rubinelli, who supplies the brushed cotton we use in our shirts, to find out the virtues of this wonder cloth.

Luca Faloni brushed cotton shirt in dark blue 

What is brushed cotton?

As the name suggests, it is a woven cotton fabric, which has then been brushed to create an exquisitely soft texture, that’s akin to cashmere. “Usually, when most fabrics are finished, a flame is applied to singe away any raised fibres so it’s surface is completely smooth. Brushed cotton undergoes the complete opposite treatment. We do not remove the fluff on the surface of cloth, but instead, exaggerate it. We do this using specially engineered mechanical metal brushes, which teases the fibres out from the surface of the fabric. It’s a technique that goes back many centuries – originally, it was done using the dry, spikey heads of thistles. This creates a beautifully soft handle, similar to a fine wool cloth, but it’s incredibly comfortable against the skin, absent of any itchiness”, explains Chiara Rubinelli.

Early stage in the production of brushed cotton

Why is it such a prized fabric?

The reason why manufacturers go through all this effort to achieve this finish, is not just about aesthetics. “This highly textured finish greatly improves the insulation capabilities of the fabric, which means it’s ideal to wear during changeable weather conditions” says Rubinelli. This may sound like an obscure claim at first glance, but there is actually a scientific backing to this – the raised, fluffy fibres traps more air particles, which retain body heat – just like multiple layers of clothing. In addition you won’t be subjected to prickly heat when the sun comes out, making it perfect for those tricky transition months. “This cloth, characterised by a soft, comforting, teddy bear-like texture, has been woven to be lightweight and breathable, following the Italian tradition of featherweight flannels, which are much lighter than typical American lumberjack cloths” says Chiara. Attention to detail is key here: the firm uses a double twist cotton yarn, which is renowned for its exceptional fineness, as well as enhanced durability. “This technique means that there less risk of pilling than with single-twist yarn fabrics, which are less robust”.

Weaving of brushed cotton

What’s so great about the cloth used in Luca Faloni brushed cotton shirts?

"Unlike many cloth manufacturers, our supplier controls the entire process from start to finish, and keeps all aspects of the operations in Italy" says Luca Faloni, founder of our brand. And as Chiara confirms: “Our brushed-cotton fabric is entirely made in Italy. We buy the yarn directly, which is dyed locally, then it undergoes stringent quality checks by our team. We carry out warping and weaving operations in our own offices or with independent weavers in the local vicinity. The finishing is carried out by those who specialize in the finishing of high quality shirt fabrics and practice techniques that have been perfected over generations. Everything is done within a few miles, so it enables us to keep a good handle on every stage of the process”.

Tools used in the production of brushed cotton

Why wear it?

“When we decided to introduce brushed cotton shirts to the range, we were looking for something to suit the mid-season, autumn and spring months, although in region with colder climates, brushed cotton can be worn throughout the whole year, as the evenings tend to be quite cool” says Luca Faloni. “It provides protection against wind chill, but it doesn’t make you feel overheated. Usually, during cooler spells, you might need to wear a V-neck in-between your shirt and jacket, but with brushed cotton you don’t have to as it’s such a good insulator; it saves you the trouble of bulking up with multiple layers” he adds. “People normally are used to poplin or Oxford cotton which are very fresh, crisp and light; brushed cotton has all the comfort of a T-shirt, but is a far more premium and elegant material. Additionally our smart ‘paramontura’ collar on our shirts provides structure and elegance, as do the mother-of-pearl buttons. All these elements give our brushed-cotton shirts a distinct point of difference”.

Luca Faloni Brushed Cotton Shirt in Light Blue

How to wear it

“Brushed cotton shirts come across as very polished, but not overly formal. It’s incredibly versatile as a shirting fabric – you can wear it to the office and dress it up with a suit or blazer, but it works equally well with indigo denim and chinos at the weekend. It has a relaxed luxury to it, which is why I find it so appealing. I think of it as the mid-season equivalent of linen, which can be worn to the beach or with a suit – it’s a great all-rounder for nearly any occasion” says Faloni. This is the perfect time to think about how a brushed cotton shirt could work with the existing items in your wardrobe. The softer, earthy shades like moss green and nocciola brown will look relaxed yet smart teamed with selvedge jeans and calf-leather boots at the weekend, while the grey and dark-blue styles will make a superb office-ready look when paired with your favourite navy suit.

You can also explore the Luca Faloni Cashmere Collection and learn 
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