A while back I wrote about my experience of being measured for a bespoke shirt by Oslo-based tailoring-firm Splendid & Fellows, and I did promise a follow-up on what the end result was like. Pardon my lateness in this respect, the shirt hasn’t actually taken this long to arrive! It did in fact arrive after the 6 weeks or so it was promised. Which may seem like a long time to wait compared to usual mail-order shipping times, but when the process involves making a shirt entirely for me, to my size and specifications, maybe it isn’t such a long time?
In any case, it did arrive, and very impressively so. Packed in a sturdy cardboard box, folded and pinned perfectly and so well presented I was loathe to take it out of the box. So I took some photos of the unboxing process, as appears to be the thing these days when something long awaited and much anticipated arrives.
With that underway it was time to get it out for a proper once-over and trial fit. First though, an investigation of build quality and checking of details. Remember, this has been made according to an overwhelming number of detailed specifications, which does make for a very much more complicated process than the usual “What size do you take? Do you want it?” of buying a typical shirt.
I wanted this to be a clean-looking design, so opted for no pockets, yet I also wanted to include enough design features to see how it would turn out. And of course judge the quality of the sewing. The main fabric I had already selected from the bewildering array of samples, and I knew that was a solid choice.
For starters, it has proper cuffs. I rarely wear cuff-links, as to be honest, I rarely buy shirts that are prepared for them. It’s a lovely touch though, for something a bit more special. If you’re a fan of details, having a couple of pairs of cuff-links adds some flair to what would otherwise only be a button. The cuffs were lined on the inside with a contrasting floral fabric, as much to see how it would turn out as any sartorially savvy reasons. The cuffs also have the rounded corner, as per spec.
The same floral fabric lines the inside of the collar and under the lapels. Again not something that will be very noticeable when worn, but a nice touch and certainly appreciated by those of us that pay attention to the details. The labels have stays inserted to keep them nice and straight, as requested.
Checking the actual sewing work involved in the shirt is something of a game-changer. I have little experience of really expensive shirts, though the ones I usually wear retail at around 50% more than the cost of this bespoke shirt. This would normally lead me to think that the two would be somewhat comparable in quality, but in actual fact this bespoke shirt is on a completely different level to what I’d expect. Perfect seams and buttonholes, well attached buttons and no lose threads, as hoped for. The construction itself though is also remarkable. No shortcuts or quick fixes, just quality craftsmanship all the way.
Pick any shirt from your collection and see if it has all felled seams on the inside like this one. It’s likely no one will ever see it, but you’ll know, and feel it.
So, all good so far with regards to design and construction, but the most important point of going the way of having bespoke garments made must ultimately be how they fit. For there to be any point in the exercise of being measured up, the end result has to match the measurements. The proof is in the fitting. I’m 172cm tall, with a 42″ chest and a fairly thick neck, standard sized shirts rarely fit perfectly. I didn’t want it to fit too tight, as comfort is a valid feature as well.
And I’d say this one fits me just as intended.
So, in to summarise, has this exercise taught me anything? Very much so. Will it change my shopping habits? Quite probably. Can quality ready-made garments compete with bespoke garments in any respect at all? As I see it, apart from the chance of taking something ready-made home right now, even the added process and time of bespoke makes for a compelling argument in favour having your garments tailor made. And especially when the pricing is this close.
Next time I’ll probably delete the initials and go for regular cuffs though. No sense in being too fancy.
Now, I need to talk to these guys about a proper tweed three-piece suit.