Our love for the rugby shirt is woven into our family history. Our dad, Kevin Danehy, wore this preppy staple in college playing rugby for Colgate University, so it seems only fitting to name our first rugby shirt after him: The KD Rugby.
“The ones I used to wear back in school weren’t very comfortable,” Kevin recalls his scrum half position days on the pitch. “The fabric felt stiff. Almost crunchy.” It was designed to endure 80 grueling minutes of a physically challenging, full-contact sport, so it’s unsurprising that he didn’t wear them much after the matches were over.
We knew we could do better. Inspired by the past, our take on the classic has some essential updates, but the most evident is its unbelievable softness. “Traditionally, these shirts weren’t as soft or stretchy because they were made to be durable,” explains Walter Bassano, our design director at Fair Harbor. “But we wanted a soft hand feel and the comfort of stretch.” Our midweight 100% organic cotton fabric is designed to improve over time, getting softer and softer with each wash.
The ease and sustainability of the fabric is not the only aspect that we updated. Traditionally, each shirt consisted of 5-6 horizontal colored stripes, called “hoops,” but we rendered the KD Rigby in shades of blue and cream. “We added nautical stripes for a more coastal feeling,” explains Walter. The relaxed fit is another difference that Walter says makes it feel more easygoing and modern at the same time.
But the KD Rugby also has plenty of nods to its sporty tradition. Dating back to the late 1800s in Rugby, England, the shirt was part of the uniform in rugby matches, so there were many useful performance details. For instance, the classic woven collar and sporty rubber buttons are authentic elements of this heritage style. The short, rigid collars kept their shape, making it difficult to grab them from behind when trying to drag players down. The buttons were hidden and often made of soft rubber so they wouldn’t break or scratch players, so we rendered ours in the same material.
Other functional features, such as underarm eyelets for ventilation, reinforced stitching for durability, and elbow patches, are rugged details included in the KD Rugby that are still useful for everyday wear.
But how does Kevin rate Fair Harbor’s update on this collegiate style? “The KD Rugby is kind of the perfect shirt because it has a collar, but it’s as soft as a sweater, so I’ve been wearing mine non-stop,” he says. “And, of course, you can’t beat the name.”