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Custom shirts

post #1 of 82
Thread Starter 
Everything I have read about this shop seems to imply it's "the place" for shirts in the city. With such an abundance of choices - Borrelli, Oxxford, Ascot Chang, Seize sur Vingt, T&A, etc. I can't afford to try them all. What experiences have people had? Also, does anyone know if the oxxford mtm shirts are largely handmade? Has anyone used Geneva? Is there a gem out there that I am missing?
post #2 of 82
I would not advise Borrelli, especially if expense is a concern, since the minimum order is 6 shirts, without a try-on. Oxxford shirts are made in Italy and have handsewn buttonholes and buttons attached by hand. I would say that the Oxxford shirts, conctruction-wise, are very similar to(and possibly made by) Borrelli. Geneva seems to be a great choice since the minimum initial order is 3 or 4 shirts, and they do a try-on before making the actual shirts. The patterns are true custom, not MTM, and the prices range from $150 or $175 to ~$300, which is quite reasonable.
post #3 of 82
I would not advise Borrelli, especially if expense is a concern, since the minimum order is 6 shirts, without a try-on.
Others have written that the New York Borrelli store has the six-shirt minimum. I don't know what other retailers have this policy, and I don't know whether Borrelli has a true custom program in addition to their made-to-measure program. I do know, however, that I have ordered my made-to-measure Borrelli shirts two at a time from my friendly neighborhood men's store for quite some time. I would speculate that the six-shirt minimum is a retailer policy rather than an edict from the Borrelli factory.
Oxxford shirts are made in Italy and have handsewn buttonholes and buttons attached by hand. I would say that the Oxxford shirts, conctruction-wise, are very similar to(and possibly made by) Borrelli.
Oxxford shirts have the unpolished mother-of-pearl buttons a la Kiton, but that certainly doesn't mean that Borrelli doesn't make them. The Oxxford shirts that I've seen, however, really haven't made any attempt to match patterns at the shoulder, while Borrelli typically at least makes a half-hearted effort (the interesting thing about Borrelli's pattern matching is that sometimes it's excellent, with good matching at the shoulder and at the sleeve placket, and sometimes it's not very good). I've never tried on an Oxxford shirt, so I can't really comment on whether the cut of the shirt is similar to Borrelli.
post #4 of 82
THe Borrelli store in New York is a run by someone who is close to the family, and it doesn't necessarily mean that the family (or the Borrelli factory) has control over it; so the 6-shirt minimum might be a Borrelli store policy. However, the store carries exclusively Borrelli-labeled items not found elsewhere, from umbrellas (Italian-made, can't recall the maker's name) to shoes (Mantellassi). Oxxford has many different contracts with shirt factories, thus a wide price range. There are also different fabrics for different factories, so if you were to make a shirt at Oxxford, be sure to know what you are getting. The lowest priced shirt is made at a factory in Staten Island, New York. The most expensive one is contracted out to a Neapolitan factory. There is no try-on shirt at Oxxford either.
post #5 of 82
I seem to recall a salesperson at the Oxxford store in NYC telling me that their shirts are made by Individualized Shirts, which I believe is based in NJ. As for Geneva, a friend who is the manager of a prestigious store in NYC that specializes in shirts and ties, who is very knowledgeable about the industry, has his own custom shirts made at Geneva and highly recommends Geneva. The man behind Geneva, Mike, is an actual shirtmaker. My experience at the Borelli store in NYC was not very favorable as the staff did not inspire confidence in me in their ability to measure and fit a shirt properly. They also are disingenuous in claiming their suits are made in their own factory, which is not the case--This lack of truthfulness just bugs me and diminishes them in my eyes. I did hear that Gianluca Isaia makes Borelli suits but cannot confirm this. Incidentally, the former manager of the Borelli store now manages the new Kiton store, so I guess everything he told me about how great Borelli suits are is now invalid. Do I sound a mite cynical?
post #6 of 82
I am pretty confident that Borrelli do make their own suits; they reportedly hired a Kiton tailor to start this business. Marc: how do you know that Borrelli do not make their own suits? My guess is that Finamore makes the Oxxford Italian shirts; I think they are nice, but not up to the Borrelli/Kiton standard.
post #7 of 82
Someone who is intimately knowledeable about the clothing business told me he believes Isaia makes Borelli suits, but as I originally wrote, I cannot confirm. In any case, Borelli's heritage is in shirtmaking, not suitmaking, and Borelli's RTW sits are way, way over-priced at $4,000+ I'd be very surprised if Borelli made the decision to invest in manufacturing suits.
post #8 of 82
The NYC Borrelli store says the suits start at $2700. I would say they are in the Kiton/Attolini/Brioni price range, so I guess value is a relative thing. Of course, Marc, you prefer to go the Bespoke route, which, admittedly, CAN give a higher degree of value, but with the attendant risk of disappointment. The positive of buying from one of these RTW makers (along with Oxxford) is that they have a very high and standard level of consistency and quality control. As I've written elsewhere, I tried on some Borrelli suit jackets at the Borrelli shop in Melbourne, Australia. My wife said they were by far the best looking jackets I've tried on, far surpassing the Kiton, Isaia, Brioni, and Oxxford jackets I own. Nevertheless, I was too cheap to pay the necessary price; I've gotten all my other clothes for much lower prices. It seems to me that starting a suit-making venture in Naples shouldn't be very expensive; Borrelli (like Kiton) would do virtually all the work by hand, so all it would really take is a few simple pieces of machinery and some quality tailors; we know there are plenty of great tailors in that area. Also, we see that the Savile Row tailors go off and start their own shops (albeit while outsourcing much of the sewing). Certainly Borrelli, with their shirtmaking revenues, can support the investment necessary to start a suitmaking business. [Remember also that Kiton hasn't really been in business that long, and they've grown significantly only over the past 10 or 15 years.] Furthermore, the Borrelli tailored clothing line seems quite small, in terms of production and distribution. I don't think they would need a very large group of tailors to supply the few retail locations that sell the tailored clothing. Also, I've seen the personalised cards that come with the Borrelli garments, attesting to the tailoring by an individual employee. I don't know that Isaia would be willing to provide this to Borrelli; Isaia has more of a factory-production mentality, from what I can discern. Certainly would be nice to know for certain though; as with so much in the business, there is alot of smoke & mirrors and obfuscation.
post #9 of 82
Back to the original question re: Geneva: yes, they make damned good shirts, and that fit very well. Mike, as marc pointed out, is a genuine shirtmaker and pattern-drafter, and is very easy to work with to achieve what you want. The shirts are machine-stitched, but it's finely done, and my Geneva shirts have held up beautifully. Just go in, speak up regarding what you want, and Mike'll take care of the rest. Actually, Geneva shirts are the only bespoke garments I own (the rest of my "high quality" wardrobe is second-hand), and I can attest to their quality. In fact, if any else at the Forum has ever ordered "custom" shirts from a high-end department store or haberdasher, chances are that Geneva crafted it. You pay a premium when you order through a retailer; however, go directly to Geneva, and you'll have a real shirtmaker, not a salesman, measure and advise you. Highly recommended.
post #10 of 82
Hello - my first post here. I'm planning on making my first venture into custom shirts after the holidays. Google didn't turn up much on Geneva except the following write-up from about 6 years ago. Hard to say if any of this is still accurate but it may be interesting to some of you. Custom Shirtmaker write-up
post #11 of 82
"Mr. Mike" not only meticulously handcrafts every shirt right there in the shop--you can watch your shirt moving from artisan to artisan as it is finished--but also provides complete laundry and repair service. Even this aspect deserves notice. The shirts are gently washed, hung to drip dry (a dryer would be unthinkable.), then hand-ironed. Customers from all over the country, even his European ones, regularly send their Geneva shirts back to this atelier to be laundered.
As someone who personally hand irons all my own dress shirts (well, all my own clothes), I'd love to see an expert like that iron, just to see what techniques they use. And I never dry my dress shirts, either. PS I love Bruce Boyer's stuff.
post #12 of 82
This is a great web page from Alex Kabbaz on how to launder and iron shirts. Like Geneva, many of Alex's clients mail their shirts to him to be laundered and ironed properly. No matter what, never let your shirts be touched by a dry cleaner/laundermat. Alex Kabbaz Laundering and Ironing
post #13 of 82
Originally posted by Marc39: They also are disingenuous in claiming their suits are made in their own factory, which is not the case--This lack of truthfulness just bugs me and diminishes them in my eyes.  I did hear that Gianluca Isaia makes Borelli suits but cannot confirm this.
Marc, I have three Borrelli bespoke, one made to measure.  I can assure you that Borrelli makes their own suits.  I have been fitted by their head tailor who also fitted me three years ago for my Kitons. I have also seen their workshop in Napoli where they make thier suits, so I don't know where you are getting your information. I have also compared my Kitons, Borrellis and Isaias: the Borrellis do not resemble the Isaia in terms of the stitchings, thickness of interlinings, and collars.  Now, the Borrellis are most similar to my Kitons: surprise surprise... because of the same tailor. I would also like to pose a question to you regarding a previous post of yours either here or at Andy's: Your statement that Brioni is FUSED....  Where?  I have one RTW, one MTM, and five custom Brioni.  I have checked the RTW and MTM at the most common areas of fusing: the lapel, and the bottom of the coat: no fusing there, one can clearly feel the canvas piece, and the inner and outer materials are of the same thickness.  Where do you get your info from?
post #14 of 82
T4phage, thanks for the accurate information on Borrelli and Brioni. Is Errico Formicola the tailor who fitted you at both Kiton and Borrelli?
post #15 of 82
T4phage: In speaking with a Brioni rep dring one of their trunk shows at Bergdorf Goodman/NYC, I was told Brioni does not do custom/bespoke suits, so may I ask where your custom Brioni suits were made? Also, you stated your custom Borelli suit and custom Kiton suit were very similar and you attributed that to the same tailor---The same "tailor"? One tailor alone made your Borelli suit and the same one tailor alone made your Kiton suit? I must be missing something. Please clarify.
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