This is my henley. I bought it in the fall of 2013 on discount at J.Crew. This was at the end of the golden era of J.Crew, when the buyers there recognized small quality makers even if their clientele didn’t. At the time, the “In Good Company” section of J.Crew website included Alden and Red Wing boots, Anonymous Ism socks, Baracuta windbreakers, along with a small Canadian knitwear label called Homespun.
I’d long been intrigued by the look of Homespun’s henleys, but balked at the price tag at the time of $115. But apparently I too was “in good company” because that October their exclusive collab, the waffle-knit coalminer henley was on sale. I was able to stack a couple discount codes and have it shipped for $47.05. In hindsight though, full price was a bargain and I’d gladly pay it for another dozen.
I’ve handled many many knits in the service of this website and little comes close to the care and detail in this shirt. The fabric itself is like it’s entirely made of ribbing, it’s soft, sturdy, stretchy, and always snaps back into place. The cut is close but not restrictive, ideal for wearing it alone or as a base layer under another shirt or sweater. And the details are where it really shines: all the seams are flatlock stitched, there’s a separate woven fabric for the placket and lining the shoulders, the collar and placket edges are reinforced with a zig-zag stitch like I’ve never seen before where each “zig” is actually a line of three small lock stitches. My only complaints are that the sleeve cuffs stretch out by the end of the day (but they are back to normal after laundering) and that it’s somewhat bulky to pack.
As soon as I received the Homespun, it quickly went into my weekly rotation year-round. I washed it between most every wear so it probably has over 200 washes.
It was around this time last year when the fabric started to fail. The little knots connecting the waffle knits together would break, forming bigger and bigger holes every time I stretched my shoulders to put on shoes or something. Homespun still existed, but as far as I could tell they no longer made this model of henley. So I began patching.
First was that little black and white piece at the bottom corner of the placket, next was a small section by the seam of the right shoulder, then a notecard-sized swath across several holes on the back. I’d just cut up a piece of muslin or whatever else I had on hand and run it back and forth under the sewing machine.
This worked for a while, but soon I began to get holes in between the holes and a lot of the back began to go to tatters. So I reached out to the contact address on Homespun’s website to see if they still made anything like my deteriorating henley. I was answered by the founder of the brand (who prefers to keep a low profile and will remain nameless) and after some back and forth, it turned out he did in fact have another one of the very same shirt in my size. He even offered to do an even trade, my old one in exchange for his new one so long as I paid for shipping.
So there I am, up above wearing my new henley and my old one, which is about to be put in a box and returned to meet its maker once again. I hope he decides to make more.
Homespun Waffle-Knit Coalminer Henley
- Fabric: 100% cotton knit
- Fabric source: Canada
- Made in: Canada
- Additional details:
- Cat’s eye buttons
- Flatlock construction
- Woven label
- No longer available, but it wish it were