Comfortable with Corduroy

Phil Maguire has come over from England to attend Saturday's gathering of the Corduroy Appreciation Club in New York. He answers Scott Simon's simple question: "Why corduroy?"

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LYNN NEARY, host:

November 11th is a day of great significance to members of the Corduroy Appreciation Club. That's because it's the date that most resembles the vertical lines of the fabric. Today the club convenes its second 11/11 meeting in New York, and corduroy enthusiast Phil McGuire has flown all the way from London to join in and perhaps take the club international. Scott Simon spoke to him earlier this week.

SCOTT SIMON, host:

Why corduroy as opposed to denim or silk or moleskin?

Mr. PHIL MCGUIRE (Corduroy Appreciation Club): I think for a lot of people, for me I think corduroy is very comfortable fabric, but it's also very comforting. And for many people it reminds them of their youth. I remember the first item of clothing that I was allowed to choose was a second-hand sweater that had corduroy patches on the shoulders and the elbows, and I've been fond of it ever since.

I believe corduroy actually originated in my home city of Manchester, England, formerly known as Cottonopolis. So I'm very proud to be sitting here wearing corduroy today and to be a member of the Corduroy Appreciation Club.

SIMON: You haven't been to a meeting yet, right?

Mr. MCGUIRE: I haven't.

SIMON: Do you know what they do there? I mean do people just sit around and rub each other's shoulder patches?

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. MCGUIRE: There is - I think there is some (unintelligible) one of the things that the people do is - instead of clapping, people don't applaud, they wale. We call it waling. So they rub the fabric together. I don't know if you can hear this.

(Soundbite of rubbing)

SIMON: In fact I can. Yes.

Mr. MCGUIRE: Yeah. I was just waling. So that was for you, Scott.

SIMON: Oh, my gosh. I'm enormously moved and appreciative. Thanks very much.

Mr. MCGUIRE: That's my pleasure.

SIMON: I gather now - I mean, now you see corduroys where it alternates wide and smaller wales. You see horizontal ribs of the corduroy. How do you feel about that stuff?

Mr. MCGUIRE: I'm actually sitting in a jacket that alternates with the wide and the fine wale, so I feel very, very happy about that. I believe that the quality of corduroy has declined since the end of the '70s, and I'm quite sad about that. The Corduroy Appreciation Club plans to investigate this in the near future.

SIMON: What happened after the - what even I remember as the golden age of corduroy in the 1970s because, God forbid, I had a purple corduroy suit then.

Mr. MCGUIRE: Fantastic.

SIMON: But I digress. What...

Mr. MCGUIRE: It was the introduction of synthetic fibers that led to the decline in the quality. But you can still pick up fine corduroy items.

SIMON: Is there any place to which you would not wear corduroy?

Mr. MCGUIRE: I think one place that I might think twice is at the swimming baths, simply because I've not been able to find any swimming trunks in corduroy as yet.

SIMON: Well, Mr. McGuire, awfully nice talking to you and good luck.

Mr. MCGUIRE: Thank you very much indeed, Scott.

SIMON: Phil McGuire hopes to start a British chapter of the Corduroy Appreciation Club. The club meets November 11th, a day to wear corduroy with pride.

Unidentified Man: Now, if you had a pair of corduroy pants on, you turn into a one-man band. You know, boom-boom, flap. Boom-boom, flap.

(Soundbite of laughter)

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