With its stiff collar, easy to undo two-hole buttons, red ribbon brand signature and high quality Egyptian cotton, Eton-branded men’s shirts have quietly become internationally renowned for quality. Zoom in on these continually reinvented classics.
The story begins in 1928, during the depression, in Ganghester, a small village in Sweden where Annie and David Pettersson decided to make shirts in their kitchen. By bicycle, they circulate in the village to sell their wares. Without knowing it, they were about to create Shirt Fabrikan Specialist, a high quality bespoke shirt brand. Over time, the company continued to grow, and by the late 1970s, the sales manager was distributing to Denmark and England. A real success. The idea to expand and export became increasingly tempting. The sole impediment was a required change of name. The company approached Eton College, Cambridge to license their name as a guarantee of excellence and the college accepted. The Eton shirt company was born.
Today under the artistic direction of Sebastian Dollinger, Eton offers more than 70 exclusive styles, in many colours, for every season, and distributes to 42 countries. What makes Eton shirts so distinctive? First, raw materials are of the highest quality; only the best Egyptian cotton purchased directly from Peru is used. Collars are made to hold their rigid form, making for a crisp and elegant shirt, even without a tie. Buttons with a concave face and two holes are crafted, allowing the shirt to be unbuttoned with one hand, a patented invention designed by former creative director, Jan Borghardt. Better idea! Eton also employs an organic wash process. The cotton finishing process lasts three to four weeks, compared to three to four days for a conventional washing. Result? A shirt that lasts longer and holds colour better.
Actor Roger Moore numbers among the prestigious Eton clientele. Iain Cooper, Canadian sales director recounts a savory anecdote. “One day we receive a call at head office in Sweden. A man wants to buy one of our royal shirts, one of our more expensive. However, we don’t sell to the public. We inquired where he lived to verify if a local distributor had the shirt in stock, and located one in Switzerland. At this point we still don’t know who he is, but took size information and particulars for delivery. We subsequently received the cheque, signed Sir Roger Moore. And in the end, he so enjoyed the way we handled the situation, that he agreed to do the narration of our corporate movie and tell our story.”
“We like to say that we create future vintage. We’re a company of luxury shirts whose mission is to always push the boundaries. But in the end, it all comes down to consumers, and how they wear our clothes”, says Cooper. “We are not available everywhere and consumers usually buy three or four pieces at a time. They appreciate the exclusivity, and we continue to gradually grow the brand in Canada.”
The headquarters of Eton remains in Ganghester, Sweden. In 2010, the company opened its first store in North America, located at 625 Madison Avenue in New York. In recent months, it opened a new store in Santa Monica, California. Eton is sold in fine menswear stores across Canada, including Henri Vézina, at 1825 boul. Daniel-Johnson, Laval (450) 686 6800.
By: Judith Ritchie