Musings on the culture of keeping up appearances

All the Rage

Category: custom

Suit yourself: Men's custom clothes are a mouse click away

Online custom shirts
In researching the piece on men’s made-to-measure dress shirts that will appear in Sunday’s Image section, it became apparent that though it’s men in their 30s and 40s that are currently driving the custom clothing business (there is a technical distinction between made-to-measure and true custom — which I address in the story), the industry sees growth potential in the twentysomethings.

“Our custom dress shirt business has been consistent over the last couple of years,” said Saks Fifth Avenue men's fashion director Eric Jennings. “But we’re seeing the younger guys are more interested in dressing up, and we think there’s a real opportunity to go after that younger customer that’s not the classic customer that’s in our stores right now.”

Joseph Abboud, chief creative officer and president of HMX Group, echoes that sentiment. “It’s a very interesting sort of genetic memory thing that men have about nice suits and nice shirts,” Abboud said. "There seemed to be a generation-skipping thing going on -– when we went through that whole corporate casual Friday thing. And now the younger guy is starting to get dressed again.” 

And, according to Kyle Vucko, CEO and co-founder of Internet-only label Indochino, they're the ones most likely to buy online. "A lot of our guys are in their late 20s and early 30s," he said, "they're fresh out of college, they’re used to buying online, and they appreciate the affordability and value we can offer when it comes to custom apparel."

Below are a handful of the DIY options I've discovered over the last few weeks. (And trust me, it barely scratches the surface of what's out there.) Some are Web-only, while others are in-store only (and one option is ordered online and picked up in-store).

I have just one piece of advice: Be sure to measure (or be measured) carefully and choose wisely, since, as a general rule, made-to-measure garments cannot be returned or exchanged.

Bespoken Clothiers

If choosing from hundreds of fabrics and dozens of customization options sounds daunting, the folks at New York City-based Bespoken have done you a favor by winnowing the field to 16 Thomas Mason fabrics, six collar styles and three styles of cuff. Since they’re all hand-stitched in Turnbull & Asser’s U.K. factory, your shirt comes with a pedigree worth boasting about.

Price: $245 or $265.

Turnaround time: Three weeks.

Brooks Brothers

Brooks offers two options for guys looking for something beyond standard-issue ready-to-wear. One is a full made-to-measure program — suits, dress shirts and formal wear — that’s available through its bricks-and-mortar doors. The other is its “Select” special-order dress shirt program (also available for women) that allows customers to customize the fabric, fit, collar and cuff details of an existing shirt style.

Price: $108 to $195 (add a monogram for $12).

Turnaround time: Finished garments are delivered to your local Brooks Brothers store within four weeks.


The retailer's John W. Nordstrom made-to-order program allows people to customize an existing dress shirt style by choosing from more than 100 Swiss-made fabrics, four fits, 10 collar styles, six cuff styles, two types of pockets, two types of button placket and two kinds of buttons –- as long as your neck circumference is in the 14 1/2-to-20-inch range and you take a 30-to-39-inch sleeve.

Price: From $145 to $495 (based on fabric choice).

Turnaround time: Six to eight weeks. Available through Nordstrom’s men's furnishings departments nationwide.

Saks Fifth Avenue

Most made-to-measure shirts are cut and sewn overseas, but if you’re keen on buying American-made goods, check out Saks’ private-label custom dress shirt program, since all the garments are made in the USA. 

Price: Shirts start at $130.

Turnaround time: Four weeks.

Available through select Saks Fifth Avenue stores, including Beverly Hills.

Web-only and shirts-only, ShirtsMyWay has been open for business since February 2009 and claims to offer “seven trillion unique design variations” (a number so absurdly astronomical we’re forced to take the claim at face value).

Price: From $75 to $175 (based on fabric choice).

Turnaround time: Free shipping is 15 days door-to-door; tack on $10 for delivery in nine days.

Streets of Beverly Hills

A one-stop shop for the HMX Group stable of brands with a clubby man cave vibe, Streets of Beverly Hills, which opened its doors in September, hopes to become a made-to-measure mecca. Currently the custom options are limited to Hickey Freeman and Hart Schaffner Marx suits, but the store plans to add custom shirts in the future, so it’s worth making a mental note.


Although the company started in Canada in 2007, co-founder and Chief Executive Kyle Vucko says the U.S. now accounts for 70% of sales of its made-to-measure dress shirts, suits and outerwear, which are shipped to men in 60 different countries across the globe. “We help a few thousand men a month get into custom shirts,” Vucko said.

Price: $79 to $99.

Turnaround time: Although the company promises delivery from Shanghai within three weeks, as of this writing, the website notes that due to high order volume, customers should allow six weeks for deliveries.


For NBA players, a fashion slam dunk

Where to buy a custom-made men's shirt

 Vans, Shortomatic custom board short program is officially live

 -- Adam Tschorn

Photos: Websites that offer made-to-measure men's dress shirts include Bespoken Clothiers, left, and ShirtsMyWa. Credits: Bespoken Clothiers and

Aromatherapy for the harried Angeleno

21 drops 
Many spas swear by it, and candle-store owners have embraced it. The medical establishment and the FDA question its usefulness. What about the rest of us? For the average consumer, aromatherapy is something to encounter in a mall or in the halls of a swank hotel -- pleasant, soothing, temporarily uplifting.

There are those converts, of course, who swear by the healing properties of aromatherapy. As with all believers, they have formed associations: The Alliance of International Aromatherapists, the National Assn. of Holistic Aromatherapists, the Natural Assn. for Holistic Aromatherapy.

And they have started businesses and product lines. Among the most recent is 21 Drops, which launched in November. Founders Cary Caster and Amy Ilyse Rosenthal recently explained their products and philosophy on the patio outside Fred Segal:

Aromatherapy, said Caster (who is a licensed massage therapist and an advanced clinically certified aromatherapist) "is the practice of using essential oils for their curative properties." Caster's and Rosenthal's oils are distilled from plants, mixed in various formulas and combined into 21 different products (hence the "21 Drops") with names such as "Calm," "Decongest," "Sleep," and "Hangover." They are meant to be inhaled or applied topically. Each formula is packaged in a roller-top glass bottle that sits in a sturdy case, which is, in turn, nestled in an individually designed box with a "batch card" that lists and explains the ingredients.

Continue reading »

Vans, Shortomatic custom board short program is officially live

Back in May, when we first told you about Vans tapping Santa Monica-based to launch its custom board short program, the kinks were still being worked out and the site hadn't officially launched yet.

Today comes word that the Vans Powered by Shortomatic program is officially live, and it can be accessed through the url, where customers can build their custom boardies using 16 colors, six customizable patterns and four vintage prints plus a rotating limited-edition artist print (the debut featured artist is Neil Blender).  

Handmade in Santa Monica, the shorts start at $99, and have a turnaround time of just two weeks from order to shipping. 

Which means if you order  today, your custom shorts will still see a long stretch of summer. 

-- Adam Tschorn


Quiksilver's custom boardshort program taps brand heritage, technical expertise

Vans taps to launch its custom Era custom boardshort

Be a shorts order cook

Quiksilver's custom boardshort program taps brand heritage, technical expertise


Less than two days after I posted about Vans' new custom boardshort program through, the folks at boardsport behemoth Quiksilver fired off an email to let me know that they'd launched a similar program just a month and a half earlier.

And, at first glance, it looks stunningly similar.

Continue reading »

Vans taps to launch its Era custom boardshort [Updated]

Last May, when I first saw what the folks at Santa Monica-based Anymatic LLC had launched -- an easy, quick and relatively inexpensive ($99) way to create a pair of custom-printed boardshorts from user-uploaded art (including personal photographs) that would be cut and sewn right here in the Los Angeles area, one of my first thoughts was how long it would be before one of the giant action sports brands would come calling.

It turns out not long at all.

Barely a year after rolling out, the company is set to debut a partnership with Cypress-based Vans, which has long offered customers the opportunity to design their own shoes. Dubbed Vans The Era Custom Boardshort powered by the website, which is expected to go live shortly*, pairs the technology and processes created by Anymatic with the resources and design archives of the VF Corp.-owned skate brand -– including its familiar iconic checkerboard pattern, to allow customers to design their own surf trunks.

Continue reading »


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