Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Custom (MTM) Shirt; Part 1

homas Pink used to be my main source for shirts. Classic British styling, amazing fabrics, and a pretty decent fit. Over the years, their prices have increased and while their styles (cuts) have also increased, their number of offered fabrics has diminished some. Their prices have increased so much that I began to hunt for other options, and eventually it dawned on me that I could get a custom made shirt (Made to Measure - MTM) for nearly the same price. There's a host of options for that out there, but Ascot Chang came highly recommended thru a number of reputable sources. It was time to give it a try.

So I walked in late one afternoon to their store on 59th Street. There were stacks of off the rack shirts, some ties, some suits. The salesperson was friendly, and I asked about their custom shirts. The scoop is that you have to buy four of them in a clip, period. Ok. I was led to the back where there was a table and a shelf with some 30 or 40 books of fabrics....at least that's what they had out. I was introduced to Albert Chang, who was working on talking the arm off of a shirt. I was asked what types of fabrics I was looking for, and three books were presented.

Imagine that each book has some 80 fabrics or so.....whoa! Flipping thru them was amazing. On each there was a sticker with a price ranging from $480 to about $550. After a lot of time and agonizing, I asked how they priced their shirts; thinking that sticker represented price per bolt of fabric or something. Nope. That's the price per shirt for that fabric. So I interrupted Mr. Chang from his task and informed him that my budget was perhaps somewhat less than he may have anticipated. No problem - three new books appeared, and I was back down to Thomas Pink range. And the quality difference was not significant.... After a lot of hemming and hawing, I picked two plain white shirts (a good thing to have) and two other with bold stripes. And that's when the real fun began....

--A

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