Why I Went With a Custom Shirt

Many guys—myself included—have never really owned a shirt that fits them properly. Some off-the-rack numbers come close to accommodating the awkwardly lanky and the incredibly buff among us, sure, but there’s always that one imperfection that sticks out like a sore thumb. In my case, it’s sleeves that barely reach my wrists and can’t easily be sorted out through a quick visit to the tailor.

Hate to say it, but us guys don’t have much of an excuse anymore. Through the magic of globalisation, stiff competition and, of course, the internet, men have no shortage of options when it comes to getting a custom-fit shirt affordably made for them, both in person and online. In fact, some services are as cheap as a trip to the mall, and almost all of them are faster than going to a high-end bespoke shirtmaker. Unfortunately, going through many of today’s custom retailers gets you what you pay for in terms of quality—not much. One family-owned company in Canada is out to change all that.

An investment, without the investment

Led by founder and creative director Rikky Khanna, Spier & Mackay offers custom-made suits and shirts out of their Mississauga showroom and will soon do the same in downtown Toronto when they open their first retail location next year. Many of Khanna’s clients work on Bay Street, but he cuts out the middlemen to keep his shirts as affordable as $79 apiece without skimping on premium construction by real tailors. All shirts come with an 18 to 21 stitch count and are created using Egyptian cotton, so they’ll last much longer than your average top. More bang for your buck.

A world of choices

When Spier & Mackay invited DailyXY for a custom shirt fitting to find out more, I was happy to oblige. Taking a seat across the table from Khanna, I was presented with what is probably the most obvious (and exciting) benefit of ordering a custom shirt: the possibilities. The process began with four binders filled with hundreds of materials hand-selected from India. Checks, solids and textures blurred together as I flipped through the books until I finally narrowed my fabric choices down to a red, white and blue gingham and an indigo-dyed denim. Khanna suggested that I pick the style that fills a gap in my wardrobe—advice he offers to all the guys stuck on this phase—so I went with the more rugged material to replace a chambray shirt that’s on its last legs.

Wear your personality on your sleeve

Next, Khanna ran down a list of details that could be altered to suit my tastes, from collar spread to placket stitching. Listing them all would be in vain, he told me, but if you come in with a game plan, Spier & Mackay’s tailors can accommodate roughly 99 per cent of your whims. Alternately, the in-depth process can be streamlined to cover just the basics for customers who simply want a great-fitting shirt. I looked back at some of my favourite pieces for inspiration and chose a button-down collar, tonal stitching and monogrammed initials at the bottom of the placket—why not, right?

The perfect fit

But none of that would matter unless the fit’s razor-sharp. Taking a precise series of measurements, Spier & Mackay creates a completely unique, personalized pattern without the use of templates like other companies might. The assessment goes beyond the essential neck, chest and shoulder measurements, taking a look at less obvious (but no less important) nuances such as posture and whether you habitually sport a timepiece, and on which wrist. Once your shirt is stitched together, a final appointment with their in-house tailor further dials in the details to make sure the fit and details are exactly as you want them.

… and the confidence that comes with it

The feeling that accompanies buttoning up your first custom shirt closely approximates the confidence you get from donning a suit and tie. Seriously. You stand up straighter, you speak with more authority and you’re able to focus less on your appearance and more on business or enjoying a night out. And if that’s not worth a quick, inexpensive visit to a tailor, I don’t know what is.

Nicholas Mizera is a lover of menswear, craft beer and lifestyle mags. Some know him as The Gentleman Journalist.


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