Simonnot-Godard, I told him that I wanted to buy some of his renowned chambray shirting for myself. To which he replied, "No, that would be the voile," or words to the same effect. I never thought to question the cloth further, since it was medium weight stuff that looked nothing like the voiles I knew and everything like the cloth I had seen on a friend who described his shirt as chambray. And so for most of the past year I have placed orders for chambray and S-G has dutifully sent me voile that I forwarded to my shirtmaker until now I have seven shirts from the stuff.
As ASW store shoppers know, I also began offering lengths of the "chambray" shirting on the store this past summer. And then in an unexpected turn of events, a customer wrote to tell me that the cloth I had sent him was not the Simonnot-Godard chambray he had purchased a couple of years ago. "Uh oh" says I and lo and behold, after several emails digging into the background of this discrepancy Benjamin offered to send me a sample of his chambray.
And so the photo shows two swatches of the real Simonnot-Godard chambray atop a length of the voile from the same maker that I have been calling chambray. The real thing has a somewhat more open weave and an ever so slightly rougher hand than the voile; indeed, had I been given the choice of one or the other I would have taken the voile despite of or perhaps because of its lack of typical voile characteristics like light weight and translucency. But it is definitely a different weave.
From Simonnot-Godard's point of view of course this is all perfectly understandable. They make the best handkerchiefs in the world, and offer on the side one type of shirting to their good handkerchief customers who want something a little different (can't blame them as they probably get ten times the money for a square centimeter of handkerchief that they do for the same amount of shirting). A while back, they decided that they like the voile weave better than the chambray and so they switched what they keep on hand.
A clear case of lost in translation if I ever saw one.
I am by the way going to have them weave a length of the original chambray in light blue if the customer who knows the difference still wants some. Given the minimum involved I will have quite a bit left over so should anyone else want a shirt length or six, please send me email.