The Ecuadorian Corozo buttons
Have you ever seen the picture of Jean Cocteau took by Richard Avedon? - a delicate hand is shown from a sleeve with three buttons undone, which certifies in a chic way the high class of the suit and the importance of the buttons. In other era the unbuttoned buttons on Renaissance paintings symbolized the laxity of morals, and today - the luxuriousness of the garment... and guaranteed access to the expensivebuttons...
The large fruits of the tropical palm of the genus Phytelephas, which is also called 'tagua' or 'corozo' hide several brown seeds with very hard white core. It is very similar to ivory and that's why it is called 'vegetable ivory'. Local craftsmen produce wonderful miniature sculptors, valuing the similarity with the precious material.
'Tagua' is imported into Europe from Ecuador since the end of 18th century and in 1920 a significant part of the buttons in the USA (more than 20%) are made of corozo. With environmental thinking and after the flood of plastics after the World War II, the massive production of buttons of vegetable ivory quickly grows. The raw material is inexhaustible and does not require much effort - people have to just wait for the fruit to fall from the palm trees and to remove the seeds.
The structure of seeds looks like wound plant fibres, providing significant strength and resistance to scratches and damages. Pores take in dyes deeply - up to 3-4 mm - and allow high quality coloring. Corozo material can be cut, pressed, laser-etched, flamed, polished, bleached, dyed, etc. There are no two fully identical seeds and that's way each button is unique. The fibres on the surface remain notable even after the processing and this gives an additional effect.
Since the raw material travels from Ecuador, these buttons are much more expensive than the polyester ones, but they are considered details, marking the high class of a men's suit. Just the perfect buttons, which you choose even before the fabric - as though in tune with our proverb: He found a button and sewed a suit for it (meaning There is a consequence and a reason should be found).
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