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montreal shirtmaker

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
Some of you may remember my thread complaining about the difficulty in finding a quality shirtmaker. Well, I finally found the time to stop by a shop that I discovered quite by accident. I was actually looking for a place called russell's, but was on the wrong street and stumbled upon this one.

The store is called Arthur Inc. It's right above Troika on Crescent. It's owned and operated by a Lebanese gentleman and his son (who's my age). They're both a pleasure to deal with. I had just intended to drop-in for an hour to get quickly acquainted and measured, but I was there for closer to three.

Before I dropped-in to the store I had sent them an email asking some pretty specific questions about how they do things in an attempt to see if it would be worth the visit. I sent an initial email because I hate the idea of going in to a shop where you deal with the owner and then having to leave because you don't like their offerings. This actually served a dual-purpose because when I entered the store they remembered my email and knew that I was really in to this stuff.

Arthur is very much a man that seeks to please his clients. He answered all my questions and then some. He's not the least bit arrogant and he seems to really enjoy educating his customers. At one point when we were talking about armholes, a favorite subject of mine, he went in to the back and got out an old book on pattern drafting to help illustrate a point.

He stocks mainly Alumo (makes up 70% of his inventory), Acorn, and I believe some Testa, and he will be stocking SIC Tess in the near future.

The measuring process went very smoothly and he was very thorough. He took me through all the little things he noticed about my body and explained to me in each case what he would do to correct for them.

I had a good feeling about things and I wanted to do a muslin fitting to ensure proper fit on all my shirts so I committed to a 6 shirt order. If you chose to skip this stage, there is no minimum order.

In terms of details, he'll do anything you want. He defaults to machine-sewn buttonholes and buttons, but shanks the collar button. Construction quality is very good. The stitching is very straight and he does edge-stitching well. All of the stitching is very clean; no need for gussets here. Pattern matching is done without the customer having to ask for it. You also have a good selection of MOP buttons to chose from and they really are some of the nicest buttons I've ever seen.

At a customer's request he'll also do stitching by hand, hand-sewn buttonholes, shank the rest of the buttons, etc. The hand-stitching is very well done and quite closely spaced, somewhere between 8-12 stitches/inch if I remember correctly. The handsewn buttonholes are also very well done.

Pricing is quite reasonable at about 200-250 for standard italian cotton (100 2x2). The Alumo stuff starts at 275 and goes to around 425. Anything you have done by hand is tacked-on to the base price. EDIT: it's $175 extra for him to do the shoulders, buttonholes, and buttons by hand.

Since I didn't pick any fabrics yet I just made a deposit and I'll worry about cost on my next visit. On the whole I'm quite impressed so far, but I'll withold final recommendation until I get my shirts.
post #2 of 12
Hey, GQ, good to see you're back on the forum. This sounds like a great little place. I'll make sure to pay a visit next time I'm in town. Can't wait to hear the results!
post #3 of 12
Hmmm. Perhaps Lebanese men make decent shirts.
post #4 of 12
Perhaps they learned from the Charvet people since Lebanon was French.
post #5 of 12
GQ, I assume you were talking CAN$, correct? How long till you get the shirts? Phone number? Thanks.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Yes, Fabienne, I was talking in Cdn$. I'll pm you contact info.

Whoops, forgot something: ~2 weeks until i go for the muslin fitting and then shortly after I will receive the finished shirts, assuming the first fitting goes well. He can do them faster if a client wishes it, however.
post #7 of 12
Thread Starter 
I thought I'd update this thread for those that PMd me and want to be kept in the loop. I just got back from the first fitting and we will be doing a second next Saturday. I highly recommend doing the 6 shirt minimum so that you get a trial fitting, or at least order one shirt at a time until your shirts are perfect. There are just too many little things to be adjusted that measurements (even though he takes a lot of them) don't necessarily capture.

The trial shirt that had been prepared fit me better in many ways than any one RTW I already had, but there were numerous corrections to be made.This just further amplifies my view that the only right way to have shirts made is bespoke. Even MTM just doesn't cut it when dealing with dress shirts because there are too many variables.

The fitting process took quite a while (~45 minutes). I was very glad to find out that my initial impressions of Arthur were not wrong. Arthur is a real people pleaser. He takes his time and works methodically. I conveyed to him that I wanted my shirts to have a very clean, fitted fit, with as little extra fabric as possible, yet I don't want to feel the shirt pull when I move my arms around, reach forward, etc.

As I mentioned in my initial post, my shoulders are different on the left and right side. There's also a hollow between my right shoulder and my chest that needs to be adjusted for so that it doesn't look unsightly. This means I need two different armholes and the way the yoke joins the front of the shirt is different on each side. We had to make adjustments on each side to both the armhole (which was already cut very high, per my request), and to the shape of the yoke so that the shoulder-line looked the same on both shoulders, and also so that I could have freedom of movement with my arms and still be comfortable.

We also had to work on the sleeves, both in terms of width and length. I brought two different jackets for the occasion, both Borrellis, but one with a slightly lower armhole due to it being a summer jacket. After scratching our collective heads for a while because my arms had initially measured out differently, and the fact that one of the jackets had been altered at the sleeves but not the other, we agreed on the correct length for the shirts so that I would show the right amount of cuff.

Finding the perfect compromise between a close fit and comfort took some playing around, and I spent a lot of time with my arms out-stretched in all directions, but I'm quite confident that the next fitting will have it pretty much nailed.

I also finalized my fabric choices. 3 are going to be Alumo 170x2, and another is their Soyella Zephir which weighs in at an astounding 65g/m^2. Consider that Alumo's voile is in the ~80-85gr/m^2 range and you'll have an idea of just how light that is. The interesting thing is that it's a much tighter weave than the voile. It's honestly one of the most amazing fabrics I've ever come in contact with. I'd be curious to know just how fine the threads they use for it are but I forgot to ask and it only lists the weight on the cards. The last two fabrics I picked have nice patterns, one with bold pink and blue stripes(Acorn), and the other with an interesting yet versatile white and blue check(Alumo), but if I had to guess they're both in the 100-120x2 range, which admittedly has a hand like sand-paper after feeling the exquisite Alumo Soyella shirtings.

We also spent a fair amount of time talking about interlining and fusing. Arthur does not fuse his collars and cuffs unless specifically requested by the customer. All of mine will be un-fused. He also has a large variety of interlinings to chose from, but he saves the best for himself and people like me that really care, since it is significantly more expensive and he's trying to maintain reasonable pricing for the person that isn't quality-obsessed to the point of fussing about interlinings! As a side-note, I was re-assured to find out that he believes that the best interlinings he's found are in fact Swiss, which concurs with the opinions of Mr. Kabbaz. He brought-out a bunch of different types and I could only nod my head in agreement.

Anyway, for my next update I'll borrow a digital camera and take pictures of the finished shirts so that you can all see the fabrics I've been raving about.

I have to say that I'm pleasantly surprised so far. I didn't think I'd find this level of craftsmanship in a city like Montreal because it isn't exactly known for its bespoke traditions. Everything about my experience so far has been extremely positive and I'll probably do a second order soon after my first. Even though I haven't received any finished shirts yet, I have no reason to doubt that they'll live-up to their expectations and so I have no problem giving my full recommendation at this point. If you're in montreal, or close to it, Arthur is the guy to see for your shirting needs, and I assure you it will be well worth the visit.
post #8 of 12
Please... how did this all turn out!
post #9 of 12
Yes, what is your opinion of Arthur's today? Still satisfied?
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
I'm surprised I never updated this thread. Arthur is a really really nice man and his two sons are both very courteous. It makes me happy to support businesses like this. I'm convinced that anyone willing to work with him can get good results.We did a lot of tweaking on my pattern and Arthur never griped or gave me a hard time. He's one of those guys that really will do whatever he can to please his customers, within the limits of good tailoring I would assume. He's also the type of guy that's happy to have his customers just drop by and chat or thumb through bolts of fabric. I don't have any other bespoke shirts to compare to, but he really nailed my fit. I'd never buy RTW again. FWIW, my shirts have held up well. Most of them still look new although i've never put them in a dryer and I never wash them in big loads. This has been reassuring since at $450+tax/shirt for some of the more delicate Alumo fabrics I chose, I would have been sad if they only lasted a year or two. One of his sons was apprenticing as far back as 2006 so he might be making shirts now. I haven't been back in a while but it wasn't because of any dissatisfaction on my part. I just stopped buying clothes for a while in favor of spending money on other interests.
post #11 of 12
post #12 of 12
Thanks for the update. Searching for a shirtmaker in Montreal is how I found this thread. Actually, it's how I found SF. The search is over, I'll make my appointment.
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