Elegant, Enduring Casein Buttons Now Available

November 12th, 2015

Fantastic New Casein Buttons Offer Even More Shirt Design options

Our beautiful and exclusive Casein buttons are now available to add style and sophistication to your individual tailor-made shirts. Casein buttons, renowned for their glossy finish and silky lustre, are not widely available and new buttons can only be sourced through boutique suppliers.

A beautiful material made of milk

glasses of milk

Casein or Galalith (from the Greek meaning ‘milk stone’) is a plastic made from milk protein and formaldehyde. Its manufacture began in Germany and France in the late 1800s and it was originally invented to produce an alternative to the traditional black school chalk board. Milk protein was ground into powder, then mixed into a paste which was then hardened by prolonged immersion in formaldehyde. It might have failed as a ‘whiteboard’ but the new material was hard, polished up to a beautiful shine and could be easily coloured to imitate natural materials such as horn, ivory, and tortoiseshell.

Casein was launched at the Paris Universal Exhibition of 1900 and was soon used for articles ranging from jewellery to fountain pens, but found its special niche in the manufacture of buttons. While the process was simple, it did take time, with thick slabs taking up to a year to produce.

Casein could be turned into gemstone imitations that looked strikingly real and while Casein plastic could not be moulded like Bakelite and had to be cut or carved from rods or sheets, it was beautifully glossy and could be polished to a long-lasting silky lustre. Casein itself is odourless, insoluble in water, biodegradable, antiallergenic, antistatic and virtually non-flammable.

Casein and Coco Chanel

Coco Chanel Logo and Bag

Used for small ornate pieces, this incredible material soon found a home in the fashion industry and was used to produce beautiful jewellery, including incredible pieces created by renowned artists Jacob Bengel and Auguste Bonaz. During the Art Deco era they were considered extremely desirable, particularly when fashion icon Coco Chanel presented her “little black dress” in 1926, adorned with beautiful Casein accessories.

The short, simple black dress, which appeared in Vogue, was known as “Chanel’s Ford,” (as in the Model T car) because it was simple and accessible for women of all social classes. All that was needed to “vamp up” the outfits was stunning costume jewellery and thus the mass popularity of these items was born.

From Art Deco to decline

casein buttons slide


In the 1930s Casein was the ideal material to create fashionable jewellery material in a virtually unlimited range of colours and was produced under a variety of trade names, with “Erinoid” being one of the most prominent English brands. However during WWII, production of Casein was severely restricted as milk was needed primarily as a food product and post-war the material was superseded by modern plastics that could be cast and heat-moulded.

Wearable fashion history

casein buttons zoom


Production of this much-loved material has continued to this day, albeit by niche producers and in small quantities. The enduring sophistication of Casein buttons makes them an ideal addition to a bespoke shirt, harking back to the golden Art Deco era of opulence and sophistication. Our beautiful, glossy Casein buttons are available in a range of colours to match any style of shirt, and help create a wearable piece of fashion history.

Now you can create a shirt style all your own with our fantastic timeless casein buttons.

Milk image courtesy of Sommai via FreeDigitalPhotos.net