Some history, mined from the internet: press folds were apparently first invented when a British monarch, quite possibly Edward VII, got his trousers wet in the rain. He is claimed to have handed his trousers to his personal tailor, who pressed them to create a permanent crease. Allegedly taking place in 1896 — when Edward was only a prince, not yet king — there is also a version of the story that he handed his trousers to the wife of a local farmer who added the crease and unknowingly created a sartorial institution.
The point being, its invention was happenstance, like many of the eccentricities we now consider to be firm traditions of tailoring. Pure, weird coincidence. Which makes it even more apt for fashion to appropriate press folds for its own purposes.
A confession: I don’t own an iron. Most things I wear as they have dried. And yet I have a fondness for trousers with press folds, which are carefully kept hanging neatly in my wardrobe. There is something perverse about their formality, in abrupt contrast with the rest of my disheveled wardrobe. Appropriately, they get their own special treatment. My press fold pants are never shoved in the washing machine. I may not have my own personal tailor or kind-hearted farmers to press my pants, but I do have a very accomplished dry cleaner.
London-based journalist Charlie Porter is men's fashion critic for the Financial Times. A leading voice in fashion, art and contemporary culture, he has previously worked at Fantastic Man, GQ, The Guardian and The Times, and contributed to titles such as i-D, British Vogue and The Face.
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