Part bold, part breezy, cotton canvas will always be man’s best friend. Rugged enough to deal with whatever life throws at you – but smart enough to look like you’ve made an effort, this fabric can do no wrong. Historically, its origins span back to Pakistan in 3,000BC, but it wasn’t until the 1600s that cotton fabric first appeared in the U.K. With the trade routes from the Middle East open, this wonder cloth went down a storm with British folk who’d been suffering for centuries in scratchy wool numbers. 


Industrial revolution fans will know that by the 1730s, the wheels were (quite literally) spinning here in England with all those home-grown textile mills, with the Americans not far behind us. Fast forward to 2021 and it seems like our love affair for this hardy stuff shows no sign of slowing down. A crisp, clean, comfortable powerhouse, no wardrobe is complete without it. 

At Universal Works, it’s been used in every collection for well over a decade now. Our community can’t get enough of the stuff. Medium-weight and easy to care for, with cotton canvas, you don’t need a loyalty card for the local dry cleaners. Shove it in the washer with some non-bio detergent at 30 degrees, shake it out as soon as it’s done and give it a cool iron if you’ve got the time (or the inclination). It’ll never let you down. 


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Humble, hard-wearing and always relevant, it’s been a favourite of David Keyte forever, so we asked the U.W. founder to give us some insight into what kickstarted his appreciation.

“Well, for our first collection we used some simple cotton canvas which was actually an upcycled fabric that I’d found on a factory shelf. It had been left over by another brand and I had no money to buy my own, so I commandeered it and went off on a mission to use it! It’s been used in some form in every collection since then, which was 12 years ago now. 

The current cotton canvas we use is a weight that’s suitable for most climates. It’s so durable that it’ll stay looking good season after season. We garment dye ours to give it a lovely, soft finish and I can’t see us ever stopping using it. It’s one of those classic ‘workwear’ or ‘military’ fabrics that suits menswear because it’s utilitarian, robust and affordable. It might not be glamorous, but it does a great job – a bit like me really!”




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