The weather here in Southern California would imply that it is still summertime, but in the real world, winter is now in full swing. For those lucky people that do get weather below 75 degrees F, it is now time to break out the flannel shirts. These have been a staple of the raw denim and workwear world for many years and with good reason. The soft cotton comfort, fun plaid patterns, and cozy winter warmth make these the favorite shirt of many people who love denim and boots.
Being an Orange County resident who adores leather jackets, flannels are not at the top of my list of favorite shirts. However, that does not mean I do not appreciate a really good one and what we are talking about today is indeed a truly exceptional flannel shirt. Specifically, it is a Flat Head piece from their Glory Park sub label and was released several years ago. I still remember trying this one on at Self Edge, but at the time did not have the scratch to purchase it. Luckily for me, I found one in exactly my size for a steal on Ebay not long afterward.
This has certainly been one of my most worn shirts over the course of my time being a denim head and it has held up perfectly, which is unsurprising give The Flat Head’s reputation for quality construction. The stitch work is very cleanly executed and while the fabric has held up very well given how much I have worn it and the fact that I am not the original owner. However, this is not what makes it a shirt that I still love so much to this day. What makes me adore this shirt to this day is the fabric.
If there is anything that the Flat Head is famous for even beyond their quality construction and stunning denim fades, it’s their fabrics and patterns. There are many statements and ideas that are either conjecture or opinion, but it is pretty much a fact that The Flat Head have the most diverse, creative, and impressive portfolio in the raw denim world when it comes to shirt fabrics. Such is The Flat Head’s reputation for top level fabrics that when Iron Heart released a flannel shirt in 2016 with a more intense pattern than normal, the response on Superdenim was that the shirts looked like “Iron Head by Flat Heart”, a nod to Flat Head that was echoed by the owner of Self Edge himself.
This is not to say that Iron Heart do not make some gorgeous shirts, because they do. More importantly, people may prefer to have simpler designs for their garments. I myself need more toned down chambrays and plain flannels in my wardrobe as well. The point is that no company in the denim/work wear world consistently makes shirts with patterns and weaves to the level that The Flat Head does. This Glory Park flannel does nothing but uphold that reputation.
At first glance, it may not appear too crazy thanks to the fact that there are four main colors that go very well together. I have seen other companies try a little too hard with their flannels and have too many colors with equal real estate on the shirt, but this one is very clearly a red and grey flannel with some white and yellow. Red and yellow go very well together and grey and white are neutrals that look fantastic on this shirt by helping to tone everything down a little.
Upon further inspection, some blue threads make themselves known which adds some nice depth, but because there is so little blue, it doesn’t make the shirt look too busy. If I were cleverer, I would be able to describe the pattern better, but fortunately, I am a mediocre photographer with an excellent camera so I can let the photos do the talking instead. It is easy to see that there are several different thread gauges being used and there are several patterns and shapes being formed by this entrancing weave. This shirt is so beautifully complex that I feel like I find new patterns every time I look at it, yet those patterns are so minute that from a distance, the shirt does not look too busy.
At this point, you may be thinking that I am gushing over this shirt far too much and you may be right. However, I will admit that there are a couple of things about it that I do not love. The first and most disappointing aspect of this shirt is the fact that the buttons are as dull and grey as… the buttons on this shirt. This is especially shameful given the fact that The Flat Head often puts some very beautiful and unique buttons on their shirts, but these sort of remind me of when I see BMWs with Rota wheels.* The other issue is that for a flannel, this is not all too thick. Compared to an Iron Heart Flannel, this Flat Head is that generic tub of ice cream that moms buy for their kids’ birthday parties and you don’t want to eat it, but you do anyway because the kid is an idiot and picked vanilla cake instead of chocolate while the Iron Heart is Haagen-Dazs.
This is not to say that this flannel is actually thin because it’s not. It’s probably around 10 ounces while the Iron Heart is 12. Perhaps the fact that Iron Heart Flannels are brushed to a high degree also adds to the warmer feeling that it exudes over the Flat Head piece. For some, this would not actually be a bad thing, but for me, it is a minor inconvenience because when it gets into the 50s with wind, I need a jacket on top whereas with an Iron Heart flannel, I need nothing else. On the plus side, I can also wear it in slightly warmer temperatures as well and the besides the more intricate pattern, the other thing it has going for it over an Iron Heart is that it is shorter and can be worn untucked with one of my leather jackets while the Iron Heart needs to be tucked.
As much as I clearly love this shirt, it actually makes me kind of sad at times. The past few years has seen The Flat Head produce flannels that, in my opinion, are not up to the standards that this shirt sets. This does make me even more grateful that I was able to get this one in particular and given the fact that it has held up so well and the fabric is one that I fall in love with every time I put it on, I have no doubt that I will be wearing it for many more years to come.
*Rota wheels are cheap aftermarket wheels that are usually copies and rip offs of high quality, original wheels and often appear on Honda Civics.