Made to Measure Immaculately: a Sharp Shirt
With a pedigree stretching back to 1938, the Savile Row Co offers a high quality and good value made to order shirt service; you get a shirt cut to your own unique pattern
Article by Rupert Watkins
Founded in 1938 by the current director’s father, the Savile Row Co retains it long presence on the Row through its subsidiary establishment 40 Savile Row. The wider brand though has gone on to offer a far wider range of ready to wear and made to measure menswear. Its first factory was in Soho though Jeffrey Doltis, the current director, explains it was bombed out in the Blitz. Since 1960, the firm has moved its shirt production to Northern Ireland.
40 Savile Row remains the bespoke division of the business and has offered bespoke shirts as part of its offering for some years. One arena the Savile Row Co is looking to drive forward is their online made to measure shirts. “We have had the tradition and expertise in our workshop for many years,” Jeffrey comments, “with modern computer aided design and the subsequent virtual pattern that’s created, we can offer a high level of personalisation to someone who is unable to either reach our store in the Row or is perhaps unable to afford the cost of full bespoke.”
The firm first offered its made to measure service online in 2016, “it’s been a bit under the radar” Jeffrey says, “though we’ve found that once people try it they keep coming back.” Savile Row Co made to measure shirts are not simply modified off a ready to wear block with more leeway over neck size and sleeve measurement; on its website you are taken through a series of measurements, each accompanied by a simple explanatory video to ensure you send the correct details to the firm’s factory.
So what are the advantages of the made to measure shirt? Quite simply, you get what you want for a fraction of the price of a full bespoke shirt. You can get the collar and cuff combinations you want, sleeves are the right length and the body – normal, tailored or slim fit – is the one you want. In recent years, as a small 15-inch collar size, I have increasingly struggled to find regular fit shirts with collars that small. Even at prestigious shirt firms, there has been the decision to only offer slim or, at most, tailored shaped shirts. Given every firm has their own, slightly different, take on the tailored shape, finding shirts can become a process of cross checking and walking between multiple shops. Not unpleasurable but certainly something that takes up time.
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This is solved by going made to measure; chest, waist, torso length, yoke and hip measurements are taken into account so the shirt will fit correctly across the shoulders and drape correctly across your body. Savile Row Co’s automatic cloth cutter will take the measurements sent and cut a unique pattern for each customer, the electronic details are stored so whether you return for subsequent orders in six months or two years the same pattern will be cut for you.
Opting for a classic blue cotton cutaway collar and double cuffed shirt, my order arrived within two weeks. Fitting beautifully across the shoulders, it is a pleasure to wear a regular fit shirt that has been accurately cut to my frame as it results in a shirt that has room to move in but does not have excess cloth. A regular fit shirt I find far more comfortable when sitting down as it does not ruck up and the buttons strain. Being slightly short armed (I have to hunt for a shorter 32-inch sleeve length when buying off the peg and even they are fractionally too long) having a shirt sleeve that correctly sits on my wrist bone and protrudes the correct distance out from under a jacket is a pleasant and welcome difference.
These shirts are very sound value for money at £75. The cotton is sourced from China, given the keen price point the Savile Row Co does not offer Italian and other European shirting for their made to measure but Jeffrey maintains, “our suppliers offer the best quality and finish I have come across in my time in the industry – simple as that.” The feel of the cotton is excellent and after two quick washes, shrinkage is minimal.
Given the customer can get exactly the shirt they want it is unsurprising the Savile Row Co’s service is growing in popularity. When ordering, bear in mind what you will wear the shirt for, is it business with a tie or more for the weekend. With formal clothing becoming rarer even in corporate offices, your shirt is likely to be on display ever more – no E Marinella, T&A or Hermès status tie and bespoke jacket to cover up a badly fitting, too long in the sleeve shirt bought in haste. It’s worth taking the time to measure yourself.
Unsurprisingly given the current office environment, Jeffery remarks white, slim fit shirts remain the most popular for made to measure customers. The company has recently introduced a range of linens and is looking at adding a dinner shirt to its offerings. Those still determined to be measured by a tailor, have access to a far larger range of cottons and comprehensive details – from button placement to exact collar stiffness – will still be drawn to full bespoke with its inherent cost. 40 Savile Row starts at £195 for a single order.
However, given the number of measurements and the unique shirt that is cut from them, alongside the collar, cuff and placket choices this made to measure option offers the ability to take your shirt wardrobe to the next level of dressiness without breaking the bank. With the Savile Row Co having been in the shirt making business for 80 years, there is heritage and knowledge behind the firm. For those whose frame means they struggle to find a decent selection of off the peg shirts – as well as those of us who always turn to a certain colour, collar and cuff combination – these are a worthwhile option to invest in.
For this article the Savile Row Co kindly gifted the writer a made to measure shirt.