semperexcelcius What is it that you hope to have in your shirts? For them to last a long time? To have access to a wide selection of fabrics? For them to fit you in a particular way? A certain kind of collar shape or construction? My advice is to think about those things first. There is no "best" shirtmaker or tailor or shoemaker or whatever.
Pretty sure you can change durability by changing the fabric, and any good shirtmaker should be able to make it as close- or loose-fitting as you want, as well as make any collar you want.
Stayed out of the shirt discussion but a few thoughts: if your budget is that much for your first set of shirts then why not pick two or three makers and compare with a small batch from each. Id be interested in a compare and contrast. I think what Kulata means and Unbel too is that no shirt is going to be "perfect" even in bespoke and different shirts can exemplify different virtues.
Also if you've never had shirts made it takes a while to dial in your fit/style. For example deciding on collar height which can be a fine point in terms of an ideal. Also collar shape. Why get six shirts made all at once? I'm still making adjustments to my collars, though admittedly, it's small returns with each adjustment at this point.
I know you keep refining after pretty much any shirt, but my feeling is that since Kabbaz does samples (often 2 or more), you get a pretty good feel for what you want/what you'll get after the samples. Plus, he'll still make any minute adjustments to the final shirts as needed.
A machine made shirt will never be as beautiful as a handmade one. The subtle shirring of the sleeves that's only possible with hand sewing, the handmade buttonholes, the decorative stitches on the shoulders and yoke that look awesome... etc, etc.
You can go to Naples and get very good bespoke shirts for $150, without a 6 minimum order. The 6 minimum is preposterous. That shows he isn't interested in developing a lasting relationship with the customer, but rather get the quick 6k. What happens if you don't like the collar, or some fabrics shrink more than expected? Will he replace them for free?
Btw, many European tailors don't answer email. Just give them a call. Much quicker.
How can you definitively say that? Did you consider the fact that Kabbaz's shirts aren't even in the same league as what you think of when you think of machine stitching? He wrote a long post somewhere about why he doesn't hand stitch.
You don't want to be comparing the cost of a Neapolitan shirt to one made in the US. Apples and oranges, and, like @The Noodles kindly pointed out, it's going to cost $600+ to go in the first place.
From what I can tell, if you're still not satisfied with the final shirt or he otherwise messed up in some small way, Kabbaz will fix it at his own cost (see Manton's posts linked above). You should be able to like the collar if you do 3 or 4 sample fittings, and Kabbaz is a master of shirt shrinkage—I think his limits on acceptable shrinking are like half that of most bespoke shirtmakers.
Why would it be easier? You only make the pattern once. The fact that he wants a 6 order minimum means that he's spreading the costs of creating the pattern out over multiple shirts. Hence, he's running less risk of you not returning, as he's made enough to cover the costs of creating the pattern+shirts+profits.
A tailor that has a 1 or 2 order minimum is running more risk of you not returning, as he can't spread out the cost of creating the patern over that many shirts. Hence, he's more inclined to make an awesome shirt for you, as he wants you to return so that he can make up the costs of creating the pattern.
Also, a lot of hand stitches are impossible to replicate by machine, so how is he going to do sleeve shirring for example? His collars look like stiff cardboards to me as well. Probably heavy lining and fusing.
When it comes to shirts the Italians make the most comfortable ones. The British ones with cardboard collars and cuffs are not very comfortable. Try wearing a shirt+tie with those british collars while sitting behind your desk for 12+ hours a day. Not very comfortable.
He doesn't care about one time customers, and that's probably why he makes the minimum so high—so he doesn't have to deal with the "shirt tourists" who will fork over $1k for one shirt and never return. He cares about developing long term relationships.
He can make the collars however you want, although he's stated he prefers fused for more formal shirts to be worn with ties, and unfused for more casual collars. He has also stated he uses lining that's about 8-12x more expensive than what most makers use.
Yeah, I mean if I'm ever on a trip, I'll stop by some places, but I'm not going just for clothes.
He does seem to have a good sense of humor.
I'll be in Europe in August (Paris, Normandy, London), and I have an appointment with a certain Mr. Templeman. He's coming to NY in October and should have my sample pair ready by then, will make final adjustments and ship the final pair when complete.
Starting off pretty basic—black cap-toe Oxfords (I'm boring, I know)