Corduroy Fans Prepare for the Fabric’s Day of All DaysJoseph Blake Winston IV in The New York Times, November 10, 2011
To prepare for the grandest day of them all, Joseph Blake Winston IV spent two hours cutting corduroy Wednesday night in Brooklyn, his cheeks flushed like those of a young man who had never held a sewing needle.
With help from volunteers at the City Reliquary, Williamsburg’s quirky museum, Mr. Winston proudly placed the finished brown bow tie on his white oxford shirt, draped with a brown corduroy scarf and accompanied by well-worn navy corduroy pants.
He was ready for the Grandest Meeting of the Corduroy Appreciation Club, to be held on Friday, 11|11|11 — the date that most closely resembles corduroy — ever.
“The wales have aligned,” proclaimed Mr. Winston, 26, referring to the raised ridges of the fabric he has loved since a child growing up in an unlikely corduroy hotbed, Houston.
“Corduroy is big in my family,” Mr. Winston said. “Why? Because of its comfort, style, the children’s book ‘Corduroy,’ ” he added with the long, straight face of club members trained to cloak their sarcasm.
He joined the club when he moved to New York to attend law school at Fordham University last year. “I knew as soon as I saw it that this is something I wanted to be involved in,” he said.
The club held its inaugural grand meeting at the Montauk Club of Brooklyn on Nov. 11, 2005, but has since surged in perverse popularity all over New York and in pockets of the country; parties are planned Friday in Washington, Chicago, Boston and Fromberg, Mont.
In New York, more than 350 members are expected to cram into the Gothic Desmond Tutu Center in Chelsea for pomp, speeches, secret rituals, awards, a fashion show, an 11-person choir performance, a keynote speaker, and other potential surprises. A Staten Island girl who turns 11 on Friday was chosen as the group’s Messiah, although her mother now calls her the Corduroy Queen.
Members must wear three pieces of corduroy, and the club’s craft night in Williamsburg helped people satisfy the rarely invoked three-item rule.
For numerologists and fabricologists alike, 11|11|11 is more momentous than say, Y2K.
“It’s a once in a lifetime gift,” said Kurt Schlachter, 32, who brews beer in Brooklyn and owns leopard print corduroy pajamas.
“Once in our lifetime,” added Sandra Pieloch, 35, his significant other.
“We have a lot of bad things going on,” Mr. Schlachter added. “Here’s an easy excuse to get excited about something, to make a big deal out of something otherwise innocuous.”
Andy Manoff, a lawyer who was creating a maroon bow tie on Wednesday, said he joined the club in 2009 for its cleverness, and for its social possibilities.
“It seemed enthusiastically well-thought out,” Mr. Manoff, 32, said. “I appreciate the earnestness, even if it’s forced.”
Miles Rohan, who works at Nickelodeon with Ms. Pieloch, founded the semi-serious, somewhat secret society after developing a corduroy obsession in Bolivia where he found the fabric in droves.
The club’s motto is “All Wales Welcome,” contrary to the fabric’s French translation, “cloth of kings.”
This year, however, all wales may not be admitted. The event has been sold out for weeks, with a waiting list impossibly long, said Ms. Pieloch, the director of events.
In finding a large enough hall, the club had to use the center’s caterer, Aramark. That meant it could not serve its signature food items that resemble corduroy — Ruffles potato chips and celery sticks — without paying a fee disproportionately ridiculous to the product. Nor could they serve the club’s drink: Quarter Rye beer, brewed by Mr. Schlachter.
The club’s tongue-in-cheek popularity is not yet widely recognized.
Members tried to entice Woody Allen, patron saint of corduroy-clad schlemiels, to accept a Lifetime Achievement Award. One night a sharply dressed female member approached him at the Carlyle Hotel after his usual clarinet gig. “I think he was a little stunned by the actual proposal,” Ms. Pieloch said. “His response was, ‘Corduroy? As in the fabric?’ ”
A few weeks later, Mr. Allen politely declined.
The club’s traditions may seem overly embroidered for the uninitiated, but the cord has worked its magic. In 2007, Mr. Schlachter, 32, was chosen to be one of the sentinels at the meeting and Ms. Pieloch, 35, was picked to cloak him.
“He wore these fabulous white corduroy pants, which were a bold move for a gentleman of his age at the beginning of November,” said Ms. Pieloch. She wore green pinwale jumper.
“I think I have a corduroy crush on you,” Mr. Schlachter said at night’s end.
On Friday, there is some speculation that the couple could celebrate their union at the grandest meeting, but both smiled mysteriously when asked about a waled wedding.
Said Mr. Schlachter: “Let’s just say I’m looking forward to celebrating the grandest day in a new secret way befitting Eleven-Eleven-Eleven.”