Broke and Bespoke

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Cottonwork Custom Shirting

Although Cottonwork already has the highly valued imprimatur of PutThisOn!, I’ll go ahead and add my voice to the chorus singing the praises of this fine online custom shirtmaker out of Hong Kong.

Kelvin Lam of Cottonwork recently floated me a made to measure (MTM) shirt for review. Though Cottonwork offers shirts across a broad price range, from plain blue cotton oxfords at $45 up to top-of-the-line fine cottons from the mills of Thomas Mason, Tessitura Monti, and Leggiuno, when Kelvin suggested I give either a Thomas Mason or one of their other luxury fabrics a try, who was I to say no…? But even given those parameters the fabric choices were dizzying. There is hardly a fabric style you won’t find in their offerings.

Cottonwork offers three standard cuts for both men and women: slim, normal, and loose, but they also offer detailed instructions on how to get a more custom fit by inputing measurements taken from one’s own body, or a shirt that fits perfectly. Another option Cottonwork offers is to just mail in a shirt that fits you exactly how you like your shirts to fit, and they will recreate it. As usual, I opted for the measure-a-shirt-I-already-own method, and the results are great.

Cottonwork offers a lot of customization options. For instance, 13 collar choices are available including both button down and buttondown roll, which gives you a sense not only of the vast array of collar choices they provide the customer with, but how in tune they are with the micromanaging tendencies of the #menswear set.  

My shirt has a cutaway collar, two button cuffs, a regular placket, straight pocket, split yoke, no pleats, regular mother of pearl buttons (you can choose charcoal, or ‘thick’ mother of pearl buttons should you prefer them), and matching thread (in this case white). Each of the aforementioned choices represents just one of many options available for each detail of the shirt—the collar is not the only dimension of the shirt for which Cottonwork gives you a wide berth.

The shirt arrived within about 3 weeks of my ordering it, and the Thomas Mason fabric is, as I suppose is to be expected, quite nice. The fit of the shirt is great, though a little slimmer in the waist than I’ve gotten from other online makers to whom I’ve given the same measurements. The cutaway collar is nicely crafted, and is not so extreme that it will look silly in a year or two. The stitching is straight and true throughout the shirt, and the pattern matching on the pocket and across the yoke is well executed. Overall, I would say that Cottonwork is a smart choice for someone looking to get in to online MTM shirting, is looking for a broad set of customization options, and wants to test the waters with a $45 shirt first before diving in to a vast selection of premium fabrics. 

As an additional bonus, Cottonwork offers free international shipping on all orders, and a generous 60-day exchange or free alterations period. 

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