The Anatomy of a Brioni Bespoke Shirt
Along with his navy birdseye Goldeneye suit, Raccoon also ordered not one Brioni Bespoke Shirt, but two, inspired by the shirts seen in GoldenEye. Now someone bright enough in the subject would point out the shirts in GoldenEye were made by Sulka – however, since they no longer exist today, and since Turnbull & Asser had cancelled their annual trunk show due to COVID-19, we were very limited of Bondian choices available in Tokyo.
We knew as of 2020, the most Brosnan Bondian way to make the most accurate shirt in time for #GoldeneyeAt25 in Japan was to make one at Brioni. Which is hardly a bad choice, as you’ll read below.
In the pocket
Raccoon decided to get all his accoutrements that would have otherwise been from Sulka at Brioni, so things like his royal blue silk pocket square with edged piping are also from Brioni. (His tie is from Magnoli, as they are the only existing option out there).
Unlike Turnbull & Asser’s bespoke process where they can make a collar shape from scratch for you, Brioni’s shirt ordering process is closer to a pattern order. However, the variations and possibilities one could explore were much more than I had ever seen from any made to measure shirtmaker.
Like their suits, they have archived all their past collar shapes/cuff shapes for guests to easily revisit and restore, meaning a wide variety of designs were available to make.
White Sea Island Cotton
The first shirt Raccoon modelled was the shirt Brosnan wore with his navy birdseye suit. The original shirt was a cream poplin shirt, that would look white indoors but clearly expose its yellowish cream identity under light.
Learn more about the relationship between Brioni and James Bond in the book From Tailors With Love: An Evolution of Menswear Through the Bond Films, available on Amazon.
We couldn’t find the exact colour worn by Brosnan, but that was expected – cream shirts pop in and out of fashion, and as of 2020, even the best of shirtmakers offer very few variations of cream shirting. We looked into shirtings that would be luxurious, fine, and would appear a softer white to create this “ivory” effect.
The fabric we settled on was as luxurious as shirting could be – a 2 ply, 170 yarn count Sea Island cotton from their “La Camicia” bunch. This kind of shirting is typically known as Superfine shirting, which has been a subject of controversy for its practicality – however, nobody can deny the comfort and silky feel against the skin.
This shirt would also easily pass for a minimal black-tie shirt, like how Connery wore a simple white shirt in a dressier fabric.
Unlike a Turnbull & Asser bespoke shirt, where it is washed multiple times and returned for the final adjustments, a Brioni Bespoke Shirt needs breaking in out of the package (though it is sent back to Italy once after the preliminary try-on). The fit of the shirt out of the box is considerably full and blousing, however, that was all in the planning.
Hard to spot
The exact fit of the cotton shirts worn in GoldenEye is impossible to discern, even based on the wealth of options available online. They are either underneath a sweater, hiding underneath a waistcoat, or a suit jacket – hence, we entirely based our guess on the fit of the linen shirt worn later in the film.
Back in time
I suggested we do a completely classic fit – so some billowing around the body, some puffing around the sleeve cap and cuff, no darts, but everything else accurate, like how it would follow the shoulder line. This was also about traveling back in time to 1995, so the fit goes back to those times (because obviously, who wants to stay in 2020?)
As we know Brosnan is the Cufflink Bond, double cuffs were the only option. Brioni offered three different types of double cuffs, their Cuff GQ (a square cuff), Cuff GR (rounded corner), and Cuff GS (mitered corner) each of a 7cm folded back cuff depth. Based on screengrabs, we settled for the Cuff GR, which according to Matt Spaiser (editor of Bond Suits) is “a more elegant choice” compared to a square cuff.
We couldn’t fiddle with the depth of the link holes from the fold, which the Sulka shirts were known to be further away from the fold. These links are placed right in the middle of the cuff at 3.5cm.
After showing the Brioni clerk Brosnan’s shirt collar, we figured their “Florio” collar was the closest to the modest semi-spread collar Brosnan was wearing in GoldenEye.
The collar height is 3.4cm, the point length is 7cm and the spread is 7cm. It’s a flattering collar shape to Raccoon, perfectly framing his face and neither overwhelmed nor undermined his body.
Brioni’s collars have very lightly fused interfacing, giving the collar a crisp, formal look with minimal strain on the neck. Based on careful observation, we settled on a 6mm stitching from the edge. (Brioni offered the choice of 3mm, 6mm, and 9mm).
An essential design detail that was hardly seen but almost compulsory was the front placket. The Sulka original had a 3.5cm placket with 1cm stitching from the edge, whereas Brioni’s has a 6mm stitching from the edge.
Mid-Blue Poplin Shirt
Mostly following the same design details, Raccoon also asked for a blue shirt, something along the lines of the shirt worn with the sweater and blazer. The original pattern was an intricate micro-check with an end-on-end weave, a highly unorthodox and unique design that we could not find in any of Brioni’s shirting bunches. So we focused on getting the colour right as a top priority.
The shade of blue changed drastically based on the scene – in the Aston, the shirt’s deep blue was much more muted, like a French blue. However when the shirt was exposed to sunlight, the blue became much more vivid, like a strong light blue.
Based on images online, we settled on somewhere in between, a deep blue high in saturation. The fabric is a lightweight, single ply, 80 yarn count from their “FW20 La Camicia Stagionale” bunch, that makes this shirt most at home with casual outfits.
Cuffs? Perfectly rounded
This blue shirt is the first example of Brosnan’s casual dark blue shirts with a button cuff, that appear in every one of his Bond films.
This example was a very standard one-button rounded cuff, a ubiquitous yet simple cuff design worn at least once by every Bond except Connery.
Both shirts are adorned with thin 4-hole mother of pearl buttons, engraved “Brioni” on the side – in the same Italic, handwritten font seen on the lining of the suit. This is an impressive touch, making even the buttons something special.
These Brioni Bespoke Shirt tails are even more unique, reinforced with a horizontally elongated hexagonal gusset. This is comparable to Turnbull and Asser, famous for their pentagonal gusset that reinforces the double stitched seams.
An interesting note is that while a Turnbull and Asser shirt’s double stitching follows down to the tails in dual lines, a Brioni shirt’s tails are machine stitched in the centre of the edge.
The Completed Goldeneye Suit
A few days after the final fitting, Raccoon received the completed final suit. In a white suit carrier with a simple but strong “Brioni” on the corner. Brioni calls this shade of red “Brioni Red,” which is also a colour option for when you want to monogram your shirts. It’s kind of like how Valentino brands their red as “Valentino Red.”
And here are close-ups of the finished sleeve, cuff, and suit.
Finally, here’s a commentary of this suit from this mysterious newcomer in the Bond community.
Always likes to make an entrance
Hello everybody! I’m Raccoon007, a Japanese Bond fan. The reason I decided to commission this Brioni suit goes back to 25 years ago. Back when I was 8, the first action movie I went to watch with my father was, indeed, “007/Goldeneye.” This experience was an eye opener. Everything was so stylish, so elegant! A gentleman, carefree to the problems around him but would never give up to them.
I was captivated by Pierce Brosnan’s portrayal of Bond, up to the extent where I would mimic his lines and behaviour at school. For a boy who had never watched anything except Disney and Godzilla movies, Goldeneye opened the doors to a whole different world of Stallone and Schwarzenegger action/war movies, another one of my passions.
Ever since Brosnan left the role of Bond after Die Another Day, I was reluctant to admit times had changed and Daniel Craig was the new Bond. That fact alone put me off watching Bond movies for 18 years! (As of now, I love Craig’s portrayal of Bond just as much as Brosnan – I can’t believe how stubborn I was!).
Gustav Graves’ ice palace may have melted down back then, but the ice that had frozen my heart back then took more than a space laser to thaw down. One day, my wife, out of the blue, told me “I don’t want to walk next to you.” I was proud of my collection of vintage 60s-70s WW2 jackets and Japanese army-style boots. Maybe a few holes here and there, but to an acceptable degree.
Boys with toys
Ever since, the De Niro Taxi Driver look was gone. I decided to shift to a dapper, formal style instead. But where do I start? Someone, back from my childhood was calling – it was Bond. I dusted off the Goldeneye DVD from the back of the shelf and hit play.
What I witnessed there was not only the movie itself, but those memories with my father, with my friends playing Goldeneye 007 on Nintendo64. 007 brought back memories of my parents, still young, and the very childhood I spent in 1995.
The world has moved on commander
Times have changed since then. That playground is gone, that cinema is gone, most of where I spent my childhood is gone. But that’s just how things are. As Q would have put it, “the inevitability of time.”
Almost as if I was scavenging for those childhood memories on the ground, I started collecting Bond related books, CDs, and clothes. Knowing that I could reach out and touch these memories, I decided to take the plunge and invest in a Brioni wardrobe.
For some concluding remarks, I would like to thank Matt and Eisuke for helping me out with perfecting the details and gathering information, and Pete for granting me an opportunity to share my story and suit with the Bond community.
Without them, this suit would not have been what it turned out to be. I couldn’t be happier that this suit made it in time for #GoldeneyeAt25. I believe every Bond fan has their own first, special Bond. Let those memories be forever special. My 1995 isn’t over – just yet.
Observe, Mr. Bond. The instruments of Armageddon.
How much for a Bespoke Brioni Shirt?
If someone is genuinely interested, he (Raccoon) doesn’t mind answering in person or me answering in lieu. (Contact details below).