On Pocket Squares and Hand Rolled Edges
What makes a good pocket square? It really isn’t rocket science - the finest silk, high quality printing, accurate cutting, and of course, nicely finished edges.
Most reputable makers buy from the same few remaining silk printing companies in Macclesfield and Como (a few notable exceptions include H****s), so the quality of silk fabric and printing, which can be done by silk screen or inkjet, is going to be fairly similar - if not the same. Unique design is great of course, and this tends to be factored into the price.
Assuming that everyone cuts their squares similarly well (we cut ours individually, by hand, but nevermind!), the quality of finishing, which is the most expensive element since it involves labour, then differentiates a good square. Oddly enough, despite the constant mention of hand rolled edges as the single most important feature that gentlemen should look for in a pocket square, there is surprisingly little discussion on what makes a good rolled edge.
Having started our business by figuring out to hand roll pocket square edges, we pride ourselves on the quality of our rolled edges, and we should really have posted something about this a long time ago!
All it took then, was a customer who brought in a pocket square yesterday that he had just picked up in Europe from a store** that iGents hold in high regard. To our shock and dismay, the edges were finished by machine - what blasphemy!! We managed to grab a quick capture of the square in question, which has been cropped to show the detail (the cream square).
How do we know it was done by machine? Well, we were offered by a silk supplier in Como the service of machine finishing the silks we purchased in the exact same manner - to which we of course politely declined. Also, no one would stitch a rolled edge in that manner.. it simply does not make sense to use such a complex series of hand stitches, and neither would you want so much exposed thread that is easily hooked by sharp objects.
In practical terms, how does the machine finished edge compare? It is far looser, flatter, has dangerous amounts of loose threads, and lacks that plump and three-dimensional finish that a skillfully hand rolled edge can add to a beautiful square of fabric. Note that we say can, because there are plenty of hand rolled squares in the market that are finished worse than this machine-made product.
Perhaps as important is the other emotional element of luxury - that someone dedicated years honing his/her craft, and spent a good hour of his/her time to skillfully finish your pocket square’s edges to a standard that puts the work of a machine to shame.
Perhaps it does not bother you to know that your $500 pocket square was finished by machine - but at least you have a better idea of where your money did or did not go. They say an educated customer is a better customer, and we couldn’t agree more.
To end, we shamelessly leave you with some detailed snaps of a hand rolled edge of ours. Very tightly rolled with a series of dense stitches nearly invisible on both sides, that lends our proud pocket square a plump and refined finish.
**Please don’t ask which store - putting the brand to shame is simply not the intention of this post.