Black House Academy:
Custom Collar Stays

When developing

a well-made woven shirt, there are seemingly an infinite amount of details to consider. Fabrics, trims, buttons, stitching, thread, patterns, fusing … design. It’s the attention to detail and craftsmanship that fuels us to explore the art of clothing.

 

Besides the pattern

and fabric type, there are two ways to control the shape of a woven collar - fusing and collar stays. Fusibles are materials sandwiched between the collar leafs to create varying degrees of stiffness. There are a wide range of weights available to give a shirt the perfect look from casual to clean and crisp. The other way to keep the “point” of a collar intact are collar stays.

Having a clean

pointed collar has been representative of sophistication since the late eighteenth century. Collar stays came into fashion as a solution when starched collars were deemed too rigid and severe. Early stays were made of various metals and hard woods and came in a variety of shapes. Today, most stays found in shirts are made of plastic as it’s the most cost effective solution. Using plastic in our collars seemed counterintuitive when developing our shirts which utilize such rich fabrics and horn buttons. Almost all modern shirting companies, regardless of their pricing, use some type of plastic collar stays. It’s only in the aftermarket world that a sartorially inclined gentleman starts to consider a part of a shirt that most never see.

Finding a manufacturer

of metal stays was a bit of a challenge at first. We spoke with a prestigious metal button manufacturer from Italy that offered to cast the stays with Zamak - a type of metal made of zinc, aluminum, magnesium and copper – but because of the needed tensile strength, the stays would have to be thicker than desired. We were then introduced to a small metalworks shop in Portugal by the House of Lamosa. After reviewing our tech pack, they quickly turned around a few unbranded prototypes utilizing cold-rolled brass, copper, and steel that were perfect in weight, size and finish.

During our trip

to Portugal in 2016, we had the opportunity to visit this father and son shop. It’s an unassuming location nestled away in a sprawling town. Included is a photo of the vintage Mini parked outside their entrance which definitely set the mood. They are a little-known treasure that have done work for major brands around the world. Their work is amazing. They created a custom die for Black House Academy which individually cuts and stamps the stays one at a time. They are then given a hand finished patina and individually polished. This is not a mass production shop, but a team of artisans that create one-of-a-kind metal pieces. Black House Academy collar stays are currently made in two sizes and three finishes – Antique Brass, Antique Copper, and Antique Silver.