How on earth does a fashion brand, in this day and age, come up with a name? Without the blessing of a Parisian lineage or a birth certificate inflected with the Milanese hills, a designer’s own name can end up sounding a little flat, to say nothing of presumptuous. Anything too derivative and you’ve sold yourself short; too abstract and you’ve lost them before you’ve even begun.
For Oxford shirt brand Chocky Hendreth, however, it came quite easily: “Growing up together, the two of us shared an imaginary friend called Chocky” say Joe and Ben, the shirtmakers behind the brand. “A precocious little character, utterly heroic. When it came to naming our clothing venture, his was the obvious choice.”
If the name is pinched straight from the boys’ childhood, then the aesthetic isn’t far behind. Chocky Hendreth’s first collection – inspired by “a certain balmy corner of the mid-nineties” – aims to recall some of the classics of the Oxford genre. The pair certainly seem to have done their homework. In the months before their shirts hit the factory floor, they sourced examples from every corner of the Oxford canon: from J Press to Gant, Ralph Lauren to Tommy Hilfiger, Brooks Brothers to Burberry.
Every detail of every brand went under the microscope. “We made a list of what we liked and what we didn’t,” says Ben. “What could be updated and what had to stay”.
This attention to detail seems to have bled through into their final design: “Our Oxford shirts have a yoke loop at the rear, whilst one-in-four of our inner plackets conceal Chocky’s own school nametag. Our buttons, meanwhile, are stonewashed for exactly 55 minutes to create a softly worn finish, and our collars are calculated to have the perfect casual roll.”
That last point was particularly important to team Chocky. “George Frazier, the great Boston style critic, said that the roll of the collar was absolutely the most important thing with an Oxford” Says Joe. “And everyone used to say that the three and one-quarter inch points of the Brooks Brothers polo collar had the best roll. So we set out to better it.”
And what of young Chocky Hendreth himself, the man behind the name? Well, it seems he’s still here, if only as a sort of quality-control officer for Englishness: “We source our cotton from a weaver in South London, buy our buttons from a tiny workshop in Brick Lane and assemble the whole thing on a small factory floor in Aldgate. Even our labels are put together somewhere in the Midlands. A garment as English as the Oxford shirt deserves to to say it’s Made in England. And a man like Chocky Hendreth would only be happy if this was absolutely true.”