Forbes feature article on Haspel seersucker | FORBES.COM | JULY 2018
Seersucker is a thin, puckered, cotton fabric commonly striped or chequered, used to make clothing for spring and summer wear. The word came into English from Persian, and originates from the words sheer and shakar, literally meaning "milk and sugar", probably from the resemblance of its smooth and rough stripes to the smooth texture of milk and the bumpy texture of sugar. Seersucker is woven in such a way that some threads bunch together, giving the fabric a wrinkled appearance in places. This feature causes the fabric to be mostly held away from the skin when worn, facilitating heat dissipation and air circulation. During the British empire where incidentally, the sun never set, seersucker was a popular material in Britain's warm weather colonies such as India and Africa. And for us yankees, the fabric was originally worn by the poor in the U.S. until preppy undergraduate students began wearing it in the 1920s in an air of reverse snobbery similar to how we see street wear today reversing to the higher echelons of Louis Vuitton and Dior Homme.
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It's getting hot out there! The Haspel Brothers company, founded in New Orleans in 1909, designed this seersucker suit to help keep their customers cool in the 1950s. The company's founder, Joseph Haspel, originated the idea of making men's suits out of lightweight wash-and-wear cotton seersucker material, which ultimately led to seersucker becoming the quintessential southern man's warm-weather suit. A 1950s Haspel suit is one of the artifacts included in the exhibition "We Love You, New Orleans" in the Cabildo.
Men's seersucker suit, Haspel Brothers, Inc., ca. 1950. Gift of the Crawford Family, 1966.060.145a–b.
Every year in June, on a warm and sticky Thursday, senators arrive at work looking like they’ve come straight from the Kentucky Derby. Gone are the standard dark suits of the winter months. Instead, they wear seersucker.
Walking the halls of the Capitol, they project a sense of gentility and ease. Why yes, they seem to say, this fabric is 100 percent cotton. Why yes, it is extremely cool. Why yes, these tiny stripes, blue and white and vanishingly thin, kind of make your head spin. Now let’s all squeeze together for a bipartisan photo op.
Two native New Orleans brands have joined forces on the release of a capsule accessory collection paying tribute to all things Louisiana.
American tailored clothing brand Haspel has teamed up with accessories company NOLA Couture on a line of colorful silk ties, bow ties, and pocket squares featuring some of Louisiana’s favorite things like sugarcane, pelicans, catfish, the “Cajun Holy Trinity”, magnolias, iris, and strawberry prints. Pocket squares retail for $35, bow ties for $55, and neckties for $65.