A semi-regular column answering
questions about clothing.
Reader Eric S. writes in to ask, “I see you offer a lot of poplin shirts. What exactly is poplin?”
Great question, Eric. Happy to help clear things up.
It’s really pretty simple. Pop Warner football is named after Glenn Scobey Warner. The Boston Pops Orchestra is called that because every member must be a father who lives in Boston. And Poplin is named for the man who invented it: Sir Reginald “Pop” Lin.
Sir Reginald, or “Pop” as his friends called him, was a prolific inventor who lived in 19th century England. As a lad, he trained to be a weaver in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland, where he learned the secrets of another legendary fabric: Harris Tweed. Known for its vibrant colors and patterns, Harris is woven from wool.
Reggie wondered why a cotton fabric couldn’t have bright colors and intricate patterns, too.
He worked for years, trying different weaves until finally he hit upon the magical warp-over-weft formula that yielded a colorful durable cotton cloth. We know it today as poplin, the fabric that bears his name.
But you’re probably wondering where his nickname “Pop” came from. A little digging reveals that Sir Reginald was not only a prolific inventor; he was married twice and had 20 children. Or maybe that was Johann Sebastian Bach.
Either way, Sir Reggie’s name has become a household word, and shirts made from the fabric he invented are worn by millions.
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