Article - Le Point
The ultimate shirt
The man with a perfect body does not exist. One shoulder is always higher than the other, one arm is imperceptibly long, or the neck is too thin for standard collars on the ready-to-wear rack. Therefore, the craftspeople behind “more than perfect” shirts gloss over these imperfections by wielding their scissors with skill and care. For those who have tasted the luxury of a shirt tailored down to the last millimetre, these talented people are worth their weight in gold. At this stage, it is necessary to distinguish between fully bespoke tailoring (preferred by purists) and semi-bespoke made-to-measure because, in the rarefied world of excellence, there is the perfection – and even better than that.
For a fully bespoke shirt, a tailor takes all the customer’s measurements, and works with him to choose from the infinite variety of possible collars and cuffs, asks him about his lifestyle (does he fly a lot? does he visit hot countries?) in order to select a suitable fabric (crease-resistant, light, etc.) All this information helps to put together a shirt in the right material. It’s essential, as this step takes several hours when you consider that Arnys and Liste Rouge offer over 2,000 fabrics, while Charvet has 6,000! Then the shirt’s future owner will come to try on the shirt for adjustments to be made. Finally, after two to five weeks of patience, the object of desire is delivered. Let’s be clear about this: when a shirt is labelled as fully bespoke, a hand crafted approach is inescapable.
Refinement. From the cut of the fabrics to assembly of the shirt, through to the finishing touches, industrial machines are excluded from the process. The height of refinement: worn-out collars and cuffs are replaced by all the great tailors, even years after the shirt is manufactured, with Arnys (for example) keeping aside a sample of the fabric chosen in order to make this kind of repair more straightforward. Alongside this extreme of care and service, there is the made-to-measure world, which still offers personalised service but which simplifies much of the ceremonial aspect. There, the customer selects the fabric (available in a wide variety of styles), the shape of the collar and cuffs, from a large (yet more restricted) selection. The customer tries on the shirt, a wide range of finishing touches is proposed, because you can still add embroidered initials or mother-of-pearl buttons. As ever, even in the semi-bespoke world, it is important to select a tailor wisely, because these semi-bespoke offers are flourishing, particularly online. It’s not easy to judge quality from afar. Watch out, therefore, for questionable service. By opting for a men’s fashion specialist, such as Ermenegildo Zegna, Ralph Lauren, Van Laack, Gucci, Brioni, Swann & Oscar or Alain Figaret, you can avoid the pitfalls.
As for the prices, it’s once again a question of balancing your demands against the service on offer. As such, a fully bespoke shirt costs €750 from Smalto, whereas a semi-bespoke shirt from Swann & Oscar comes in at €110. As we have shown, the difference in price can be linked both to the quality of the service and the materials used. Sea Island cotton, which is incomparably silky to the touch and which comes from the plantations of Barbados, is obviously much more expensive than two-ply 170/2 Egyptian cotton. Finally, it’s worth knowing that you don’t have to be a lottery winner to knock on the door of prestigious labels such as Charvet, Smalto or Lanvin: these institutions offer both fully bespoke and semi-bespoke tailoring! In a world of excess, the essential is to create your own made-to-measure pleasure.Read the PDF article