Under new leadership, the overhaul of Pink Shirtmaker has brought the brand bang up to date.
Words by Sophia Charalambous
After two years with Christopher Zanardi-Landi at its helm, Pink Shirtmaker is now a force to be reckoned with.
The company's new chief executive cut his teeth at LVMH working for Louis Vuitton worldwide.
But shirt making is his new obsession. For he is in charge of bringing Pink Shirtmaker back to where it was in the 1980s, in a contemporary way.
Talking about the first shirts he ever bought, Christopher says: “It probably was from Pink, come to think of it. In the '80s – they were really fun and loud.”
Check the thread count
As we walk around the Jermyn Street store, it becomes apparent just how much there is to know about the craft.
“The sad thing is, while you have everyone buying shirts, they have no idea what they’re buying,” he says.
“A white shirt isn’t just a white shirt.
“People get caught up in the bed sheet specifications. They think a 600 thread count must be better than the 300.
“Well, actually, in the world of shirts, it isn’t.
“A work shirt that you’re going to be throwing in the washing machine regularly, does not want to be a 600 thread count because it will last two washes.”
When Christopher took the helm he initiated a brand overhaul. One hundred per cent of the product range was re-built from scratch.
Within this 12-month transition, they also opened up a workshop in Vauxhall. This is where the bespoke service is based.
It offers 400 fabric choices and an endless list of designs while taking 20 to 30 torso measurements.
But that wasn’t exactly plain sailing.
“The dream was of manufacturing everything in the UK and we shattered that one pretty quickly as there is very little expertise left here,” he says.
It led the brand to split production between the Vauxhall workshop and India, where the textile trade is second to none.
Attention to details
Christopher explains the meticulous care that goes into just one striped shirt, including matching the lines on the cuff edge.
It’s this level of detail that he feels has been lost in the present day.
“Unfortunately, it’s become a commoditised business.
“There’s a lot of people making cheap and nasty shirts which tend to pollute the industry,” he says.
“A shirt is a very intimate garment actually – you normally wear it next to the skin so it’s something you should care about.”
Made to last
But while Pink creates luxury shirts, it hasn’t escaped Christopher’s attention to think about sustainable practices.
Pink has launched a collar and cuff replacement service for white shirts.
Plus, there's a shirt recycling incentive, whereby you hand in old shirts to shred for pillow stuffing in return for a benefit towards a new shirt.
Pink’s philosophy has always been about creating garments that are built to last.
“I’ve got friends of mine in their late 40s and 50s, who are pulling out their fathers' shirts and saying ‘I’m still wearing these for work',” he laughs.
“But men’s dress is changing that’s clear…
“People are looking for shirts that are more universal in the sense of not bought as a work shirt anymore and able to wear on evening or weekend. That’s the future.”
Pink Shirtmaker, 85 Jermyn Street