Hi Mr Crompton,

I’m a fan of yours (Permanent Style, The Rake) from Singapore. I’ve been agonising over my shirts for some time and would like to ask your advice.

I’ve been wearing bespoke T&A for about 10 years and I regard Steven Quinn as a friend. It took us about 18 months of trial and error but in 2004 we got a perfect fit.

About 2 years ago, things started to go wrong. I have darts in my shirts and started to get ballooning between the shoulder blades. T&A cannot figure out what the problem is. I stopped ordering new bespoke T&A shirts and just recollared my older shirts. I’m also a great fan of Kiton, and regard Riccardo Renzi as a friend as well. I’ve been considering moving to Kiton shirts.

I would like to ask your opinion. I’m a great believer in the durability, utility and elegance of the English shirt. And I believe T&A best shows these qualities. However, fit is important and somehow things have changed at T&A.

Kiton’s best product (for me) are the jackets. I’ve also taken to all their other products except the shirts. I’ve read your analysis about their artisanal aspects (especially compared to T&A). My question is, would you make the switch? Or if not, what do you think of other Neapolitan shirtmakers like Matuozzo? If change over, then I’m considering a wholesale migration – which means a hefty investment (over time of course).

I’m a standard size 48, slim built guy. But with shirts I do like a slim (but not extreme fit).

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and respect for your analysis and writings.

Best regards

Allen Tan


Hi Allen,

I can’t speak that much to the problems with fit at Turnbull & Asser, as that sounds like a personal issue with your pattern. However, I can hopefully provide some advice on potentially switching to Kiton or other Neapolitan makers.

First, I think it’s important to take fit out of the equation. The fit of a bespoke shirt will depend entirely on your relationship with the cutter – how you get your preferences across, how you develop the pattern together, as it sounds like you did at T&A. I’ve been using Satriano Cinque for the past eight months and we got the body perfect on the second shirt, the collar on the third. Thus is the way with bespoke.

If you’re unhappy with the fit of the T&A shirts, but want the style of an English shirt, you could try another bespoke maker like Sean O’Flynn. Moving to a Neapolitan maker is all about style and handwork.

As you will know from close examination of Kiton’s shirts, there is a huge amount of handwork in there. More than in any other shirt I have seen. Some of this is practical (inserting sleeves, collars attached on the round, in theory the long seams) and some is merely decorative (buttonholes, attaching buttons). This work, together with the quality of the materials Kiton uses, makes their shirts expensive.

If you want a similar style, but less decorative handwork, then someone like Satriano Cinque or the shirts of Elia Caliendo are a good choice. I don’t have any experience of Anna Matuozzo, but they certainly have more of a Kiton level of handwork.

So two decisions have to be made: do you want to shift to a Neapolitan-style shirt and if you do, how much do you care about decorative handwork?

The other option, if fit is of paramount importance and money less of a concern, is to try Anna, Satriano and one other and see which you find leans towards the best fit. One advantage of Neapolitan shirtmakers is they don’t usually ask for a minimum order.

I hope that’s helpful
Simon

Photo: Andy Barnham

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CD

What a coincidence: three nights ago a friend of mine was wearing a Kiton shirt and I told him, “This is one of the most beautiful shirts I’ve seen. I thought one of my favorites was Turnbull and Asser but now I want to switch to Kiton!” There was something about the fabric, colors, pattern, cut and understatement of the design that set itself apart from many of the bespoke shirts I’ve had. As much as I have enjoyed things in the past, it’s sometimes refreshing to switch gears so to speak. So yes, do switch to Kiton or one of the other shirtmakers Simon has suggested. Good luck Allen and thanks for the post Simon! This has been an amazing answer to the dilemma that I myself had just stumbled upon.

CD

Anonymous

Interesting comments from Mr Tan.
I too have been a longtime customer of T&A, but in the last 2-3 years they can’t seem to make a shirt to fit my shoulders. Large bumps, ridges across the yoke, right below the collar.
Shirts sent back 3 times and still not correct. Re-fittings and re-measured….still have the same problem.
Mr Quinn and Mr Cook have been dutiful, but the ball has been dropped somewhere.
If Mr Tan wants to continue to embrace British bespoke, I would suggest a walk down the street to Ms Emma Willis. Her reputation and quality are exceptional.

Anonymous

“Weren’t better,” in construction, quality of materials, fitting?
Please elaborate….

Jerrell Whitehead

Hello Simon,

Why no mention ever of Charvet? I always look with envy at the MTM shirts Wei Koh has made from there. Incredible fabrics!

Anonymous

I’ve just had some wonderful shirts made at P.A .Crowe in the city. Beautiful. They have made me very happy !

Anonymous

Simon. I’ve not used PA.Crowe. I like nice shirts, do you know them?

Anonymous

Hi Simon,

Great blog. I greatly enjoy your features.

I am thinking of ordering my first bespoke shirt sometime in the near future and having done some research online I have read about the big name English and Italian makers and of course Charvet. When reading blog comparisons of the three “stylistic differences” between between them are frequently mentioned but few details are hardly ever given. Do you think that you could shed some light on the differences in style?

Anonymous

Turnbull & Asser’s reputation is very well established. The shirts that they make for the Prince of Wales are always immaculate. Any bespoke artisan knows that there is no blueprint for fit and that every individual is unique. It is an extremely difficult skill to master.

When problems occur, it is always best to work with your shirt cutter and give him a chance to rectify things.

Airing your grievances on Mr Crompton’s hugely-popular blog seems a little unfair to the individuals that you have named. Pity that they are not here to have their say on the matter.

Perhaps they would consider that rather childish and undignified.

Anonymous

Mr. Crompton,
I agree with your comments about Kiton shirts as I have a few.However,as you correctly point out, they are extremely expensive to the point where I question if they’re worth it. I’ve also purchased several Zegna custom shirts and have found them to be surprisingly well made, to fit very well,with excellent fabric selection. Of course I’m a layman in these matters and assume that the Zegna shirt is largely machine made. Would you please comment on the quality and workmanship of the Zegna custom shirt.

Anonymous

If Allen wants to stick with an English maker then, as well as the Sean O’Flynn recommendation that you (Simon) gave, I would add Robert Whittaker at Dege & Skinner to the list. It is interesting to see a Savile Row house give the shirt maker such prominence, it is Robert who is up in the shop space on display cutting shirts.

I used to use Sean O’Flynn but after too many mistakes due to failures to follow the specifications that had been written down on placing orders I switched to Robert and today picked up my first test shirt after some changes had been made following the first fitting. Sean got closer to the perfect fit on his first attempt but then seemed unwilling to make minor tweaks to get it perfect. Robert’s first fit was a bit off but he was just as anxious as I was to keep going until it was perfect and on this second attempt he has absolutely nailed it; the fit is significantly better than I had from Sean. He’s also a pleasure to deal with, not that Sean was bad, but I just somehow get the feeling that Robert is willing to go that bit further in giving me what I want. After I’d asked about lido collars he bought in one that he had at home that he’d made up as an experiment and it looked great when I looked at it a few hours ago so my next linen shirt underway is being made with a lido collar.

– Julian

Peter

That was good advice.

Guy Pearson

I’ve just had a few shirts made by Guy Field London and am very impressed with the fit and finish + the quality of fabrics on offer. I had a white shirt made in from a thomas mason journeyman variety so isn’t prone to creasing which is perfect for business on the move. The shirt is bespoke and has a lovely feel about it and wonderful value considering the fact its made in italy (my one cost £165.) I’ve tried Thomas Pink and T&A and Guy Field wins hands down. Will be looking for a few more soon.

David evans

Thanks for the tip