Gray’s Best Awards 2015

APPAREL: Avedon & Colby Field Shirt

Founded in 1902, Willis & Geiger desgins were worn by some of the last century’s greatest adventurers, from Teddy Roosevelt to Ernest Hemingway and Charles Lindbergh. In its heyday, Willis & Geiger pioneered garments for Orvis, Woolrich, Eddie Bauer, and many others. After the 1977 bankruptcy of its premier client, Abercrombie & Fitch, Willis & Geiger was acquired by an investment group led by one Burt Avedon, who served as its president until 1999, when parent company Lands’ End shuttered the company. Now 91, Avedon has been by turns a fighter pilot and Purple Heart recipient in WWII and Korea; a test pilot and Top Gun instructor; an African bush pilot and professional hunter; a Harvard business school graduate, president of a cosmetics company, husband to an Italian princess, and a legendary clothing designer. The sum total of his explorer’s heart is expressed in a new brand, Avedon & Colby, whose debut garment is the Signature Field Shirt ($179). Created with his longtime design partner Susan Colby, the 100 percent cotton bush poplin is reminiscent of a bygone era of British khaki and campaign furniture. But attention to detail is what really distinguishes this garment, from its articulated elbows to the double-reverse gussets. When someone asked Avedon why he decided to start a new company in his 90s, in characteristically forward-looking fashion, he replied, “Why not?”